Five key production advices before filming in Peru

As a Peruvian producer and filmmaker, I often have to deal with the following logistical questions when a crew is planning their next trip to Peru. So here some key advices under my own experience:

  1. When is the perfect season to film in Peru?

You must know that Peru has 3 different marked regions and weathers: 

  • The coast:

This involves all the places next to the Pacific ocean. The main concern here regarding filming is to have sunny days (if your project demands it). 

Sunny days are mostly during the summer time, between December and March, specially in Lima. However in other cities you could be able to have sunny days in other months as well.

  • The Andes and the jungle:

In both cases the main concern regarding filming is the rain. Raining season in both regions are from December to March (When the summer is in the coast) 

Also in the Andes you have a season called ‘La helada’ which means the ‘freezing season’ where temperatures can reach below zero at nights and have afternoons and mornings very cold. Being the coldest places, Puno or Juliaca and most of the hotels there have no heating!! This could happen in June or July depending on the year. 

  1. How to pay for things in Peru? Easy to get Soles? 

You can only pay with credit or debit cards, formal businesses like hotels, flights and some restaurants but since Peru has a lot of informal businesses like taxis, local restaurants, local markets, tips, etc. You really have to have a fair amount of cash to pay for the services here. Especially for projects away from the main cities for many days and for many people.

  • Bring cash and change in Peru:

This is what most of the companies usually do once they arrive but it only covers the first few days as nobody brings a lot of cash these days.

The best places to exchange from your Dollars, Euros or Pounds to SOLES are the exchange houses (Casas de cambio) located in different districts. Most of them have the same rate so it doesn’t matter much which one. You can find them and check their reputation on Google Maps. 

  • The Pros: The best rate.
    • The Cons: These houses are located only in main and touristic cities.
  • ATM’S: You can get Dollars or soles directly from ATM’s in Lima or any city inside Peru. You can try 2 or 3 times until the machine doesn’t allow you to get more cash.
    • The Pros: It is handy because you don’t carry a lot of cash daily.
    • The Cons: ATM’s are only localed in big cities. They have a limit per transaction per day depending on your bank, the average you can get is USD$400 per day. I hear that in the airport of Lima you can get double the amount but also the fees are higher as well. If your project will happen mainly in remote places for many days then you will have to consider having more cash in advance. Like getting the money from many days before or use another way. 
  • Credit/ Debit card to Soles: Another way is to get any amount of SOLES in cash directly from your credit card at the exchange house inside the airport (below the escalators, close to the international exit) .
    • The Pros: It is easy,  fast and secure. This saves you on a daily stress to get money from ATMs if your project needs to cover high amounts of cash from the beginning.
    • The Cons: Not a great exchange rate but one day a producer told me ‘My daily rate is higher than the exchange rate so it is worth it’. So this will suit depending on your project. 
  • Western Union: You can send  money to yourself through Western Union and pick it up right away.
    • The Pros: Depending on the amount, the fee can be better than taking out many times from ATM’S.
    • The Cons: These houses are located only in main and touristic cities. This also has a limit per day. 
  1. Do I need Visa or a permit to film in Peru? 

You need to arrange a permit to enter filming gear to Peru. This is a Temporary Visa that allows you to enter the equipment without the need of paying taxes. Because you are declaring that you will leave the country bringing back the same equipment. 

For this, you will need to contact the embassy of Peru from the country you are bringing the equipment and arrange this permit with them directly. 

Additionally if you plan to film in an archeological place or in a National park you will need to arrange specific permits as well that might involve some filming fees. 

Most of the permits  take around 15 days.

  1. What hotels should I reserve? 

This will depend on the budget you have. I had crews who stayed at Hilton hotels and others at AirBnb so it will be up to you. You can check yourself online on the different platforms. 

However I will say the main focus on a hotel for filming crews are:

  • To have good internet and breakfast. Especially the coffee! Yes, we know that the whole crew is looking forward to their coffee first thing in the morning!
  • To have a restaurant inside or be close to restaurants. After a long day working, who wants to go out so far for a meal? We only want to shower and sleep right? 
  • To have proper size for rooms and at least one room on the 1st floor for the DOP. Check with the DOP, the size of the room. They bring a lot of gear and sometimes rooms are too small for them.
  1. How to buy Sim cards for data for the phones?

eSim card

Now that technology is moving ahead of us all the time, you must know that from October 2022 you can use eSim cards for your smartphones in Peru!! What does this mean exactly? That you don’t need a physical Peruvian Sim card anymore to have internet in your phone during your staying in Peru. 

There are a few apps offering this service online but since this is a new technology I only had experience with a crew using the app below. It had some issues with connection on Android but worked perfectly on Iphone 12 and 13. 

You can download the app and buy the plan that suits you better 

Physical Sim Card

Unfortunately, to get a physical Sim Card in Peru in most of the cases you have to make a huge line of an average of 2 hours at the stores!! Yes, awful like this! On some occasions the lines can be shorter but there is no guarantee of that.

The fastest way is to buy it at the CLARO store at the airport after you collect your luggage when you arrive in Peru. It can be way more expensive than buying a physical Sim card with a plan in a store in a city but it saves you 2 hours of your life! 

So this is all for now. I hope this helps you to plan better filming days in Peru and please get in touch if you need support for your next project either for a researcher, a fixer, a producer, a filmmaker or DOP/ Cinematographer in Peru.

I also invite to read my following related articles:

Made and written by Lizeth Yarlequé

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