Frequently Asked Questions
On this page, you will find lots of helpful information regarding your Spanish immersion program in Peru and the answers to the Frequently Asked Questions you students have about learning Spanish in Peru.
What to expect upon arrival to Peru? What is travelling in Peru like? What type of accommodation in Cusco do you recommend? What kind of activities are arranged by the school, and what are not-to-be-missed tours and trips in Peru? How much do I need to budget for my stay in Cusco? What do I need to do when arranging before my trip?
Of course, you can also find more information regarding the different Spanish courses in Peru, and we will address possible concerns regarding your booking. So get informed to be fully prepared for your Spanish Immersion trip to Peru!
For specific questions related to COVID-19 in Peru, we refer to our COVID-19 in Peru page.
Arrival in Peru
How does the Lima pick up package work?
If you book the Lima Pick Up Package, you will be met at the airport upon arrival by an AMAUTA representative who will have a sign with your name on it. From the airport, you will go to a hotel for the night. The next day, after breakfast, you will be taken back to the airport. To book your Lima Packages, we need your flight details to Lima (flight number/ arrival time). You can book this package with or without the flight from Lima to Cusco; if you want us to book your flight, we will need your passport number too. If there happens to be a delay, it is your responsibility to inform us immediately to cancel the driver and, if necessary, the hotel at no (or a minimum) cost.
You can book a one way or a return pick-up package.
Is it possible to travel overland from Lima to Cusco?
It is possible to take a bus between Lima and Cusco; however, it is very time-consuming (between 18 – 24 hours), and we do not recommend it. There are two routes: one via the south (along the coast and via Arequipa to Cusco) and one traversing the Andes. This is the longer route; during the nights, it will be cold, the buses can be crowded and (but with a reclining seat (Cama) you should be fine). However, beware that the buses will traverse through the Andes for a good 5 or 6 hours, and this can be uncomfortable as the roads are not in good conditions.
What can I expect upon arrival in Cusco?
A school representative will meet you airport; he or she will be outside the airport building, with a sign with your name to take you to the school or directly to your accommodation. If you do not see anyone, please wait another 10 minutes. If no one shows up, please call our emergency number or take a taxi directly to the school/ your accommodation (don’t pay more than 15 to 20 soles
Do the host families live far from the Spanish school?
It depends; the host families live in different areas of Cusco. Some live in or nearby the center (7 – 13 minutes walking distance from the school), while others live in the quieter, more affluent areas of Cusco, outside the tourist district. From these residential neighborhoods, you can easily reach the school by taxi or public bus within 15-20 minutes. Transport in Cusco is very inexpensive – taxis are only about USD $2 per ride and $ 0.40 per bus ride.
Can I get details about my host family in advance?
Yes, of course. We assign the host family to the students between 1 – 2 weeks before arrival, and that’s when you receive the address and a description of your host family. Upon request, we can send you the details of your host family earlier, but early placements are always subject to change.
What meals are included at the host family
All homestays are based on half board with breakfast and lunch (warm meal). Mealtimes are the most excellent opportunities to spend with your family and where you can practice your Spanish, so we recommend that you eat with your family as frequently as possible. However, you are free to go out for meals whenever you wish. You can also add an extra meal when booking your Spanish course & homestay.
Can we share a double room as a couple?
Yes, you can book a double room with a host family. However, prices are always per person, whether you have your own room or a shared room. Also, your request – as all other special requests – is subject to availability.
I arrive in Cusco on Saturday, where can I stay? Can I go straight to the host family, or do I book a hotel for one day?
Just let us know when making your booking because we can include an extra night with your host family at the beginning (or the end) of your stay so that you can go straight to your host family. Of course, you can also stay in a hostel for the first night and move in with the host family on Sunday. If you want additional days after finishing your course, please inform us as soon as possible to ensure there is space before the family’s new students; do not make direct arrangements with the family to avoid disappointment.
I am a vegetarian; is that a problem for my host family?
Our host families have experience with the preparation of vegetarian meals, so this is not an issue. Also, if you have other dietary restrictions or allergies, just let us know in advance. However, it is good to know that the traditional Peruvian cuisine is based on meat, potatoes and rice and that vegetarian products are pretty expensive and not always available in Cusco. If you are vegan, that is possible too; however, to guarantee a good level of alimentation, there is an additional charge for vegan diets; please get in touch with us. There is no charge for vegetarians.
How does the school choose my family?
AMAUTA guest families are carefully chosen and monitored through regular inspections and student feedback. Members of the family enjoy having international students around and introducing them to Peruvian life. Some speak some English but not all of them. An AMAUTA staff member visits two or three families each week, and we are in constant contact with the guest mothers. In addition, three times a year, we hold a meeting for all host families to exchange experiences and ideas.
Can I change my accommodation after arrival?
If you have chosen to stay with a host family but are not happy during the first days after your arrival, please come to talk to us. We will see if we can speak to your host family to see if we can solve any issues that might have arisen. If you don’t want to stay, we will try to accommodate your request to change your accommodation and move you to another host family or student residence. However, all changes are subject to availability, and in some cases, a change fee applies.
Can I split my time at different locations and accommodations?
Take advantage of learning Spanish at different locations in Peru, as this is great to travel and explore Peru. For instance, you can spend one week in Cusco, one in the jungle of Tambopata* and one in the Sacred Valley* Also, if you book several weeks in Cusco, you can always change one or more weeks to one of the other locations; in this case, the change fee does not apply. *check the price list for fixed starting dates
Shall I take a gift for my host family?
You do not have to take anything. But, of course, taking a small gift is a nice gesture. You can think of something typical from your country, or you can buy cookies or a cake when you arrive. Or, you might like to offer a gift when you leave the family instead.
How many people are there in a group?
There is a maximum of 6 students per class—however, the average number of students per group is between 3 to 5. If you are the only student at your level, we will offer you 2 hours of individual lessons instead of group lessons.
What are the class schedules?
The Spanish lessons take place from Monday to Friday, 8:30 till 12:30 (morning), or from 2:30 till 6:30i (afternoon). In addition, you can request extra private lessons at lunchtime, after 6:30 pm or at the weekends. Class schedules are subject to change on holidays and during the high season; class times can be different in the Sacred Valley and Tambopata to allow more day time to see the fantastic surroundings.
How much time do I need to become fluent in Spanish?
How long you need to study to become fluent depends a lot on the person. Our experience shows that a person who does not speak Spanish can achieve a high beginner level in four for six weeks of intensive group lessons. This is enough for travelling around in Peru or for starting your volunteer work; it means you can understand easy, slowly spoken sentences and that you can make yourself understood at a basic level. However, the results depend on many factors, not in the last place to your own efforts.
How much can I learn in one week?
Our goal is that a beginner in the first week learns to have a basic conversation, including basic speaking and understanding of easy, slowly spoken Spanish related to daily topics as a traveller. During the first week, you will learn basic vocabulary, Spanish words and phrases, the present tense (regular verbs) and learn a few irregular verbs such as "ser", "estar", "tener". Finally, you will be able to understand easy, slowly spoken sentences.
What do you recommend I take, group or private lessons?
We recommend you start with group lessons for beginners, as it is fun and there is more interaction during class. Of course, you can also take individual classes, which will give you more opportunities to talk and adapt the Spanish lessons to your specific needs. We recommend this option, especially for older students and students with specific learning goals. We recommend individual lessons for the more advanced students who want to focus on a particular area or need to learn Spanish quickly. However, we offer group classes at all levels, from basic to very advanced, so group lessons is a good option too. If you want to combine group classes with Spanish courses, we recommend our Best of Both Program.
Do the teachers give homework?
The idea is that almost all the work is done in class. However, especially at the beginner levels and if you want to make quick progress, your teacher may ask you to do some Spanish exercises at home to repeat what's learned in class and to memorize Spanish vocabulary to help you progress the following day.
Where is the school in Cusco located? In the city center?
Yes, the AMAUTA school in Cusco is located only one block from the Plaza de Armas, the main square where all the restaurants, clubs, bars and shops are. From here, it is a five-minute walk to the neighbourhood of San Blas, where most of the artists and artisans are located as well as many nice bars, restaurants, hostels and souvenir shops.
What level should I take?
Every Monday, at 8 am, all new students come together for the placement test. This oral and written test will give us an exact idea of what your level is. We place you in a group of your level accordingly. Please address your needs to our head of studies.
Do the teachers speak English?
All of our teachers speak some English; however, all classes are in Spanish for faster learning.
Help! I do not speak any Spanish at all!
You are not the only one! Every week we start with groups of complete beginners, people who haven't studied any Spanish before arriving in Cusco, just like you.
Is there a minimum age for enrollment?
The minimum age for enrollment in the group classes is 17. However, younger students are welcome if accompanied and take individual lessons (or participate in our course Spanish for Kids or Spanish for Teens. Families are also welcome!
What is my first day at school like?
On Sunday at 4 pm we hold a welcome meeting and a walking city tour, about 2 hours long, a great chance to meet other new students. On Monday at 8 am, the new students begin with a placement test. Around 8,30 am, our academic coordinator will inform you regarding your class times (either morning or afternoon), and you will start your lessons the same day. Around lunchtime, you can go back to your host family for lunch or eat with your fellow students at the residence or in a nearby restaurant. At 6:30 pm there is a lecture in Spanglish regarding tourist sites. After that, the new students come together for the welcome dinner, an excellent opportunity to taste Peruvian food and get to know your fellow students and AMAUTA staff.
Can I change my program after enrollment and do a different course? Are there any additional costs involved?
This depends on the change you want to make. If you're going to change from group to individual classes, you pay the difference without additional charges. If you are uncertain about what is best for you, please consult, and we can give you advice. Other changes such as shortening your stay and cancelling part of your booking are not possible once the program has started except in emergency cases (see our booking politics).
When can I start my course?
You can start your Spanish group course any Monday throughout the year for group classes and any day of the week for private lessons. Specialized courses have fixed starting dates.
Excursions / Weekend Activities
Does the school offer tours and activities?
Yes, AMAUTA offers many activities and tours on weekdays and during the weekends that are very popular by the students. Some activities are free (see: activities) while others can be arranged for when a small group of students are interested.
AMAUTA also offers tours during the weekend. Travel agency Dos Manos, conveniently located within our school building, helps you to arrange tours in Peru. Choose between rafting, mountain biking, horseback riding, a day tour to Rainbow Mountain or Lake Humantay, or a weekend trip to Lake Titicaca, Arequipa, or the rainforest. Of course, we also organize trips and treks to Machu Picchu. You can book tours before or after arrival to Cusco.
What are the possibilities for visiting Machu Picchu?
Visiting Machu Picchu is one of the highlights of visiting Peru. There are various options to see the lost city.
Please remember that you need to book your trip to Machu Picchu in advance, especially the Inca Trail (2-4 months before arrival).
This four-day hike from Cusco to Machu Picchu is a beautiful trek in the steps of the Incas. However, spaces do fill up quickly, so you need to book about two months in advance.
Salkantay Trek, Inca Jungle trek, Lares trek
There are numerous other hikes to Machu Picchu in the same region as the Inca Trail and just as beautiful, if not more so. These are the Jungle trek, the Lares trek, Salkantay and Choquekiraw.
Train tour to Machu Picchu
You can go to Machu Picchu by train if you don't wish to hike or prefer to go in comfort. There are two types of trains, and you can choose between a one or two day trip. Please get in touch with us for further information. There are also (cheaper) bus trips to Machu Picchu, but those include a min. of 6 hours walking; we do not recommend to go by bus during the rainy season, between December and April.
What are the most popular tours and activities in the Cusco region?
One day tours
- Sacred Valley Tour
- Bike or Quad bike Maras and Moray
- Rainbow Mountain
- Lake Humantay
- Machu Picchu
- Machu Picchu
- Lake Titicaca
- Arequipa & Colca Canyon
- Tambopata jungle
- Cooking class
- Salsa dance class
- Hike to nearby ruins
- River rafting
- Quad bike
- Mountain bike
Peru, Cusco and Surroundings
What is the population of Cusco? What is the city of Cusco like?
Cusco has a population of about 450,000 inhabitants. Cusco is in the southern part of Peru at about 850 kilometres from Lima; by plane, it takes one hour and 15 minutes from Lima to Cusco. Cusco is the 7th most populous city of Peru and without a doubt one of the most beautiful ones. The city center of Cusco is pretty small, and everything is within walking distance. Outside of the center you can find more residential neighborhoods, located at approx. fifteen minutes by bus from the city center. Cusco is a beautiful city full of culture, with plenty to do. Visit this informational website for more information: aboutcusco.com
What is the weather like in Cusco?
Generally speaking, the weather in Cusco is pleasant and sunny, but not very hot. During the dry season, from April to October, the weather is generally sunny. Temperatures are warm during the day but colder at night. We recommend you always bring a wet weather coat and warm clothes for the night and inside buildings, as there are hardly any heating. In the sun, it is hot, and you can get burnt easily; in the shade, it is much colder. The rainy season in Cusco occurs from November through March. The night temperatures are a bit higher in the rainy season.
Prices and Enrollment
What if I get sick during my stay in Peru and I have to go home?
With a medical declaration (or in case of another urgent situation), AMAUTA will evaluate the possibility of refunding you at least 75% of the complete weeks of Spanish classes that you have to cancel because of your illness. There is more information about our refund policy in our General Conditions.
If you are ill in Cusco, please let us know as we are happy to help.
Are there any hidden fees apart from the costs for class and accommodation?
You pay the price of your Spanish course and accommodation and a one-time registration fee at AMAUTA Spanish School. (see our price list). If you register again for Spanish classes at AMAUTA (Peru or online), you do not have to pay the registration fee again.
If you make any changes in the dates of your Spanish course or accommodation after arrival, you pay a change fee (see pricelist). Please remember that the changes are subject to availability). Volunteers pay a Volunteer / Internship Fee, of which the main part is a donation for your project.
How can I pay?
At the moment of your booking, you pay a downpayment (20% or $ 100); all payments are due on the first day of classes at the latest but preferably before arrival. Please get in touch with our staff about the current payment methods.
Can I study for a few weeks, then take a break, and then continue for another couple of weeks?
Yes, this is possible. There are no extra charges if you let us know before arrival. However, if you decide this after your course has started, we will charge a change fee for changing your booking (subject to availability).
Will you replace classes missed by national holidays?
If you are in a group course, no; on National Holidays, our staff members and teachers enjoy a well-deserved day of rest. However, we offer you an alternative activity on holidays, either a tour, a hike, a visit, or a meeting or cultural activity. In addition, if you have individual lessons, you can recuperate the lessons.
Can I extend my course and accommodation?
Yes, you can. The sooner you can let us know, the better, as spaces might fill up, especially in high season and some accommodation options.
How far ahead should I book my course (and accommodations)?
Most of our students book between 2 – 3 months ahead. It is best to reserve a spot at least 6-8 weeks in advance for the high season. It is good to book 4 to 4 weeks before arrival for the rest of the year. We also accept last-minute bookings, but in these cases, we might not be able to get your Lima-Cusco flight or your preferred accommodation option.
Which days should I book my plane ticket for? Can you book my trip for me?
Unfortunately, we cannot book your flight ticket from your home country to Peru for you. Our services start at the moment you arrive in Peru if you book our pick up services. We can book the national Lima-Cusco flight for you.
It is a good idea to arrive a couple of days before starting the Spanish program to get acclimatized to the altitude in Cusco. Therefore, we recommend you arrive in Lima on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday to arrive in Cusco one day after. The Spanish programs start on Monday.
How do I get a discount?
AMAUTA has a generous discount policy and offers different discount options (e.g. for students that register for the second time, for students, for a long duration and more. For more info, please visit our discount page here: special discounts
On the news, I heard that there are (political) problems in Peru and that it is a dangerous country. Is this true?
Our experience is that international news about Peru tends to be exaggerated. Cusco is a relatively peaceful place: political issues occur in Lima, and any violence related to drugs or others occur high up in the mountains or the rainforest, not in Cusco. Items that are on the news mostly happen in the countryside or other desolate places.
If you keep in mind some basic rules (not carrying a lot of cash around with you, not walking around alone late at night), you will usually be safe. Many tourists visit Peru every year and have a great time (and no problems).
Why should I choose your school? How long has the school been open?
AMAUTA opened in 1996 and is the oldest and largest Spanish School in Cusco. Since then, many other Spanish schools have opened their doors in Cusco (and many have closed them too), but there is no school like AMAUTA.
We have 30 – 50 students per week in the low season and 60 – 80 in the high season. The location of the school, just a block from the Plaza de Armas, is perfect. All our teachers are professionals and native Spanish speakers. Because of the large number of students that visit our school, there are always offer group lessons with other students of your level.
You can read more on the page: Why AMAUTA.
AMAUTA is the only school in Peru offering Spanish classes at multiple destinations in Peru (and outside Peru (in Latin America and Spain, through our partner program). AMAUTA has it's own students residence, and we run a professional online Spanish Program. You can read what our students say here: our Student Testimonials
How much money will I need during my stay in Peru?
That is difficult to say as it depends on your lifestyle and expenses while staying in Cusco. You can find more information about the cost of living in Cusco on our page travel tips.
Do I need medical and travel insurance?
We do recommend you take out medical and travel insurance before you arrive.
Is there good WIFI at the school? And in Cusco in general?
There is free WIFI at school in Cusco; most host families have WIIF too, and there is WIFI at the school residence. Generally speaking, it works well. However, you might experience more (short) interruptions or (minor) issues on specific days than in your home country. There is WIFI at the school in Lima too, but unfortunately, there is no WIFI in the rainforest and occasional WIFI in the Sacred Valley.
Are there ATMs in Cusco?
You can find ATMs at all the big banks. The nearest ATM to the school is on the corner of the Plaza de Armas (BCP), and there are also several cash machines on Avenida El Sol. Be aware that your bank will charge you for this service and check that your card logo is on the ATM before withdrawing money. Please check with your local bank about the rates they charge for withdrawing cash in a foreign country.
How can I change money?
You can change money (preferably American dollars) at the Avenida El Sol in Cusco in a "Casa de Cambio" or a bank. The exchange rate varies a bit and is $ 1 equals approximately four soles at the moment of this update (December 2021). It is also possible to exchange other currencies (e.g. euros), but the exchange rate isn't that good. Therefore, it's best not to change money with street sellers on the street.
Do I need a visa for Peru?
No visa is necessary for most Western countries, but we recommend you check with the Peruvian Embassy in your home country for further details. The tourist visa you will get when entering Peru will give you a standard 180 days. The rules about possible extensions have been changing lately. Until now, it was always possible to cross the (Bolivian or Chilean) border if you needed more time in Peru; when returning to Peru, you were guaranteed another 30, 60 or 90 days.
Do I need to take any study material with me?
All the study materials are included, and there is no need to bring materials with you. However, in case you like to work with real books (versus the internet), note there is no bookstore in Peru where you can buy Spanish Grammar books or good dictionaries.
If something unexpected happens, who should I speak to?
AMAUTA has an international staff that speaks several languages. So when something unexpected happens, you can go to the school administration and talk to them. AMAUTA also has a 24-hour emergency phone number.