Yes, Peru is safe. This Andean country boasts a rugged, yet beautiful landscape, and is very family oriented. From the bustling, cosmopolitan city of Lima to lunching in a sky dome secured to a cliff above the Sacred Valley, many amazing sights and adventures await you. Do explore the ruins of Machu Picchu, colorful markets, and superb colonial architecture, but don’t forget to keep your wits about you! Peru is full of friendly people who are eager to share their culture and history with you, but travelers especially must beware of petty theft. By following the common-sense practices outlined in this handy guide and learning which areas you should stay away from, you can have a safe time in Peru, and you’ll make amazing memories every step of your journey!
Peru has a well-deserved reputation as a safe country to visit. Travelers to Peru can feel confident exploring villages in the Andes and cities along the northern coast. Peruvians are known for their hospitality and friendliness, and typically make a positive impression on visitors. That said, Peru does have crime. It’s a good idea to understand where and why crime happens before you visit.
Yes, Peru is safe for a vacation. As of 2017, over 3,835,000 foreign visitors have enjoyed the country. Given that tourism is currently the nation’s third largest source of foreign currency, Peru has an economical interest in seeing that the number of safe and happy travelers continues to grow.
So, what makes Peru a safe country to visit? Well, Peruvians are typically very friendly to travelers, and are open to cross-cultural exchanges. That said, as a traveler, you should take some basic precautions to avoid petty theft. Remain alert and watch your valuables. Don’t wear flashy jewelry and if you have nice electronics, don’t flaunt them — it's a good idea to keep them in an older bag, hidden pocket, or something equally inconspicuous when they are not in use. Carry money and passports in a money belt, or else leave them in a safety deposit box at your hotel. Be watchful while withdrawing money from an ATM. Walk with confidence when you are going somewhere, especially when walking at night. If you’ve been drinking at night, take a cab home.
Speaking of cabs, be mindful of how you travel about the country. There are several transportation options you can enjoy during your stay in Peru, but some are better than others. It's advisable that you not drive yourself around due to the country's rugged terrain, weather changes, and the aggressive driving style favored by local. Additionally, when taking buses (a popular mode of transport among Peruvians) be sure to keep a close eye on your luggage to avoid theft.
Yes, Peru is safe to travel to for families. In fact, the nation boasts a very ‘family-oriented’ mentality, so travelers who are obviously a part of a ‘family group’ will find the country especially welcoming. Since every parent can relate to the joys and challenges of raising a family, it makes it easier to start a conversation with locals who might otherwise be a bit reserved.
One thing families do need to be mindful of is how high in altitude Peru is. While there are low elevation cities, the country’s average elevation is 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) above sea level, and of course top destinations such as Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu fall within or above this range. Why does this matter to families? Officially, 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) is the elevation at which the risk of altitude sickness most frequently occurs; however, at 5,000 feet is where more sensitive demographics – children and the elderly – can begin experiencing symptoms.
What does this mean for you and your loved ones? While trekking through Machu Picchu might sound like an awesome adventure to a hardy 30-something or 40-something, it’s likely to be rough on wee ones or your older parents and grandparents with joint pain. So be sure to consult with your Local Expert about your options for either taking people on the journey with you, or finding a separate suitable activity while you enjoy your excursion.
Yes, it is safe to travel alone in Peru. However, solo travelers must always exercise additional precautions. To have the best experience while traveling alone in Peru, always be expected and stay in groups.
When we say, “Be expected,” we mean have a full itinerary and a point of contact, like you do when you partner with your Anywhere Local Expert. Rides, hotels, tours…someone is always expecting you somewhere which is not the case when you book a flight thinking you’ll ‘figure it out along the way.’ Your Local Expert is your first in-country friend, and while you’re sure to meet more during your travels, it’s nice to know that the first person you’ve met (even if it is online) genuinely has your best interests at heart, and is never more than a call, chat, or email away.
As for, “Stay in groups,” we mean you’re better off booking tours than wandering around alone. Just because you’re exploring a marketplace or going on a hike with other people (new acquaintances and future friends) doesn’t mean you won’t have the opportunity to enjoy yourself – by yourself. By all means, take a moment to linger over a view or visit a different stall; the important thing is that you not stray too far from the people you’re with. You know, the people expecting you to be somewhere.
Yes, Peru is safe for women traveling alone. However, as is usually the case, women must take a few extra precautions. A machismo mindset exists in Peru, so it behooves solo female travelers to be prepared. Women traveling alone may receive unwanted attention in the form of catcalls, horn honking, and aggressive come-ons. The best strategy is to simply ignore all of this.
While talking with Peruvian men, treat them neutrally and avoid any gestures that could be misinterpreted, such as friendly touches on the arm. If that’s a natural instinct for you, work on breaking that habit now; it’s in your best interest. It's also a good idea to dress conservatively and even wear a fake wedding ring. Some women will occasionally refer to a nonexistent boyfriend or husband.
Walk with purpose and don't travel alone at night. Take cabs and stay at hotels in reputable, well-lit parts of town. When you're in the countryside, be sure to go hiking with at least one other person. Lots of travelers come to Peru, so it isn't necessary to travel alone if you don't want to — it's easy to make friends at hostels, hotels, bars, and restaurants.
Yes, hotels in Peru are safe – especially when you book them with your Anywhere Local Expert! Why guess where you should stay when you can get the input of someone who really knows the region? Anywhere’s Local Experts can help you find the best accommodations for your travel needs – whether that’s luxury, family, or even off the beaten path. When you coordinate your accommodations, activities, and transportation, you can be sure that your hotels, tours, and drivers all share a common goal – to keep you safe and enjoying the beauty of Peru. Anywhere does not propose hotels that we know to be unsafe or subpar, so you’ll never see these kinds of accommodations to begin with – it’s just one more way we work to keep you safe and happy during your travels.
The best way to enjoy your vacation in Peru is to keep your body healthy from beginning to end. While a skinned knee might not interrupt your plans, a bout of traveller’s diarrhea certainly will! Stay safe during your adventures – whether they’re of the outdoor or culinary variety.
Remember, the best medicine is prevention. So, get all of your necessary vaccines before you leave for your trip; pack anti-diarrheal medication, pink bismuth tablets, motion sickness tablets, or whatever you may need to quell tummy trouble at a moment’s notice; once you land, be an expert at how to stay safe and well during a vacation in Peru with these tips and tricks...
No, you cannot drink the water in Peru – it is not safe. To avoid traveller’s diarrhea and other waterborne diseases, drink bottled water and only eat peeled fruits like oranges and bananas. Bottled water (agua pura) is widely available in grocery stores, restaurants, and hotels. In fact, many hotels have filtered water available for guests so that you can reuse a water bottle during your stay. Boiling water for one minute, using iodine pills, or a water filter will also purify water. In addition to avoiding fruits and veggies that require washing, order drinks without ice because it is usually made from tap water.
Yes, the food in Peru is safe to eat – it’s also some of the finest in the world, as the nation boasts internationally award-winning cuisine and restaurants. Between feasting on gourmet delicacies, you’ll find that the everyday local fare is hearty and typically served in generous portions. The important thing to pay attention to is whether your food is hot, cold, or precut.
When ordering hot meals, you can feel comfortable and confident about trying whatever looks good – soups, pastas, rice, and warm vegetable and fruit dishes have all been thoroughly cooked. Ceviche (a cold seafood dish) is a popular item that also tends to be a safe bet because in this unique dish, the acidity of citrus fruit juice is used to ‘cook’ seafood.
What you’ll really need to be careful about are cold dishes. Salads might be a healthy option back home, but when traveling to countries where the water isn’t safe to drink, they can make you ill; that’s because the vegetables are usually cleaned with tap water. Precut fruit may seem innocent enough at the morning breakfast buffet, but again, these foods were likely rinsed with tap water. You should only partake of these foods if you are certain they have been prepared using purified water.
One last tip – remember to wash your hands before eating, and carry hand sanitizer with you for those times when soap and water isn’t available.
Yes, fruits and vegetables are safe to eat in Peru. When served in hot dishes, you should feel free to sample the country’s delicious produce. However, in order to avoid getting traveler's diarrhea, it's a good idea to only eat fruits and veggies that you have to peel, such as oranges and bananas.
Unless you know for a fact that fruits and vegetables have been cleaned with bottled water (such as picking up fresh goodies from the market yourself), you have to assume that the produce has been cleaned with tap water. This same precaution must be extended to drinks as well – fresh fruit juice may have been blended with tap water.
Whether your adventures take you to the beach or trekking through the Andes, you’ll want to take some precautions during your outdoor adventures. From wearing the appropriate clothing to on hikes to protecting your skin while you have fun in the sun, these are the top tips for staying safe outside during your vacation in Peru.
Peru is a tropical country and can be quite hot in places. To avoid heat exhaustion, drink plenty of water and avoid strenuous activity on hot days. It’s also a good idea to wear a hat, loose fitting clothing, and always apply plenty of sunscreen.
On the flip side, Peru’s higher elevation areas can be cold and rainy, and create conditions in which hypothermia may occur. To prevent hypothermia, wear artificial fibers (like polypropylene or fleece) that wick away moisture, and bring several layers of clothing during a hike. You should also drink water and eat and regularly while exerting yourself in cold conditions.
Yes, it is safe to swim in the ocean in Peru. The nation is actually a popular destination for surfing and has opportunities to swim with sea lions in their natural habitat, so you can certainly get into the water!
Keep in mind that although surfers do spend some time swimming in the water, more often than not they are on their boards. As a swimmer in Peru’s ocean waters, you’re going to want to head for calm beaches with minimal waves, such as Punta Sal. This is especially important if you are swimming from a secluded section of beach or during a time when a lifeguard is not on duty. Not sure where the best swimmer’s beach is in relation to the rest of your Peruvian destinations? No worries! Your Anywhere Local Expert can answer all of your questions and make the best recommendations for your needs.
Yes, Peru’s national parks and reserves are safe. The most important thing is to stay on the recommended trails – these have been designed to show you the area in the safest manner possible. You will enjoy your time even more when you go on a guided tour. Learn about the history and biodiversity of the area you’re visiting, spot animals in their favorite hangouts, ask questions and get them answered in real time. Get the most out of your experience when you add educational fun to your outdoor adventures!
Yes, earthquakes do occur in Peru, but nearly 4 million travelers successfully enjoy vacations in the country annually, and that number is only continuing to grow. The reason earthquakes are a fairly common occurrence in Peru (especially around Lima) is because it is situated along the boundary between two tectonic plates – the Nazca Plate and South American Plate – near the nation’s coast. The South American Plate is moving towards the Pacific Ocean over the Nazca Plate; the pressure between these two plates is periodically released and an earthquake ensues.
In the past century, this shifting plate has resulted in 1 to 5 earthquakes per decade, which have registered between 6 and 9 on the richter scale. Earthquakes are hard to predict, but Peru will probably continue to experience them in the future. If you're traveling in Peru during an earthquake, try to follow these basic guidelines:
Don't use elevators, and avoid using the stairs (stairs move differently from the rest of buildings and are therefore dangerous).
If you are indoors, drop to the ground and take cover under a table or other piece of furniture. Hold on until the shaking stops. Stay away from windows and anything that could fall on you.
If you are outside, move away from buildings, street lights, power lines, and anything that could fall on you. Walk to the closest safety areas. Safety areas are marked with signs that have a big "S" or a yellow circle on the street with the letter "S". These areas have been designated as safe.
If you're at the beach during an earthquake, immediately seek higher ground. A tsunami can sometimes follow an earthquake.
Peru has also had to deal with serious flooding, some of which was the result of El Niño. Hurricanes rarely hit Peru. That's because the waters off the coast of Peru are cooled by the cold waters of the Humboldt Current. Hurricanes tend to form in areas with warmer water.
Although nature is unpredictable, your Anywhere Local Expert can help you assess Peru’s weather based on your travel needs. Enjoy your vacation more when you have a plan in place. In the event of a natural disaster, discuss where you will meet ahead of time with your traveling companions, and take note of the closest exit at your hotel.
Yes, there are a lot of snakes in Peru. Approximately 200 species call the country home – 30 of which are native. The majority of these reptiles call Peru’s portion of the Amazon Rainforest home, so you don’t need to worry about stepping on them as you walk down the streets of Lima!
If you fancy a bit of herpetology (the study of reptiles), then a more rugged adventure may allow you to spot the Peru Coral Snake (Micrurus Peruvianus), Pygmy Moss Snake (Umbrivaga Pygmaea), Green Vinesnake (Oxybelis fulgidus), and even boas.
Yes, there are many different types of insects in Peru. The nation contains a portion of the Amazon Rainforest, which is home to an estimated 2.5 million insects. In Peru, butterflies alone consist of approximately 450 species. If you’re a fan of entomology (the study of insects), then you’ll be excited to spot wiggling sawfly larvae attached to tree trunks, tiger moths, tarantulas, leaf cutter ants, and more. Keep in mind that your mileage may vary – your best chance of spotting insects will be on adventurous tours that take you into the jungle, because these critters aren’t known for living in Peru’s urban cities.
No, there are not many mosquitoes in Peru due to the country’s high altitude. However, that does not mean that the country has zero mosquitoes. Most of Peru is mosquito-free; the only places where you are likely to encounter mosquitoes is in lowland areas around the Amazon Basin, as well as other rainforests and cloud forests. Some travelers have been bitten by mosquitos at Machu Picchu. Mosquitoes can carry diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, and dengue, so it's important to protect yourself by using insect repellent (which you may want to spray on your clothes), and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long-sleeved pants. Ticks can transmit Chagas’ disease, so these are good methods to keep them at bay too. Sleeping in rooms with screens over the windows and/or mosquito netting is also a good idea.
What’s worse than getting sick before your vacation? Getting sick during your vacation. From traveler’s diarrhea to altitude sickness, getting ill puts a damper on your getaway. Follow these tips to keep yourself in tip-top condition so that you can enjoy every moment of your adventures in Peru.
No, you do not need vaccinations, malaria pills, or other medicines to travel to Peru – this is because no vaccinations are officially required to enter the country. That being said, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends ensuring that you’re up-to-date on your typhoid and hepatitis A shots before traveling to Peru; although again, neither are required.
If you’ll be traveling in the Amazon jungle, below 7,550 feet (2,300 m), then you may also want to get a yellow fever vaccination. Again, a yellow fever vaccination is not required to enter Peru unless you are traveling from a region where yellow fever is endemic. While traveling in the Amazon it’s also a good idea to take malaria pills (malaria prophylaxis).
Hepatitis B vaccinations are recommended for health care workers (or others who may be exposed to blood), travelers planning on getting a tattoo, and those who plan on staying in Peru for more than six months. You should also be up-to-date on your vaccinations against chickenpox (varicella), measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, and polio, which means you will have needed to receive your booster shots within the past 10 years. An annual flu shot is recommended as well.
Most shots take about two weeks to be effective, so it’s recommended to schedule your vaccinations at least 2–4 weeks before traveling. Some shots may require second or third visits. Health conditions and vaccination recommendations do change, however, so it’s best to check with your doctor for current requirements before traveling. For up-to-date information on the health conditions in Peru, please visit the CDC website.
When you’re on vacation, you hope for nothing but the best; however, to truly put your mind at ease, it’s important to prepare for the worst. Purchasing travel insurance and keeping in touch with your Anywhere Local Expert is just the start of being prepared for an emergency during your vacation in Peru. Learn what to expect if you have a condition that may require medical attention or find yourself in the midst of a medical emergency in Peru.
Oh! One quick tip before you keep reading: It’s always a good idea to keep your home country’s embassy emergency telephone number on hand. For American citizens, the Peruvian U.S. Embassy’s emergency telephone numbers are…
For more information about how the embassy can assist you during an emergency, please visit the website of the U.S. Embassy in Peru.
Peru has an excellent healthcare system. Medium and larger cities will have several government hospitals and a range of private clinics. The clinics are usually high-tech and personalized, and the state hospitals provide excellent healthcare. Even small villages will usually have a medical post and pharmacies offering you easy access to basic medications. The doctors in Peru are university-trained and competent.
The hospitals in Lima are the best in the country; serious medical problems should be addressed here. It’s recommended to look into international medical policies – nearly all of them will cover evacuation to your home country if needed. Insurance companies may deal directly with hospitals in Lima, but in other destinations, travelers might be required to pay in cash and then seek reimbursement later.
Yes, you can easily get medicine while traveling in Peru. There are pharmacies (farmacias) scattered across Peru. Larger cities like Lima, Arequipa, Cusco, Puno, Chiclayo, and Trujillo have ample pharmacies, while smaller towns usually have only one or two. Many pharmacies are open 24-hours a day. Drugs are fairly inexpensive and prescriptions are usually not necessary. However, prescriptions are required for antibiotics, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications.
Yes, you should bring altitude medicine to Peru, and here’s why – one thing you’ll have to contend with almost anywhere you’ll want to visit is the altitude. Generally, you don’t think of this when going on vacation because it doesn’t really come up, unless you’re going on a mountaineering expedition such as Anywhere’s Kilimanjaro Trek or Mount Everest Base Camp Trek. However, Peru as a country is relatively high in elevation. Mountainous Andean regions such as Cusco are at 11,150 feet (3,400 m), which make altitude sickness a common concern when visiting some of Peru’s most popular destinations.
Right now, you’re probably wondering how you may be able to tell whether or not you’re suffering from altitude sickness – after all, a little bit of huffing and puffing is normal during a strenuous hike, isn’t it? Symptoms of altitude sickness include fatigue, headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, and shortness of breath. You’ll be able to tell the difference between altitude sickness and a hike that tests your endurance.
So how do you beat, or better yet prevent, altitude sickness? Well, there is no way to avoid altitude sickness entirely, because there’s not really any way around taking your body from one elevation to the next. Your best bet is to minimize the effects of altitude sickness by acclimatizing for a day or two and drinking plenty of water before engaging in outdoor activities. Doctors can also prescribe acetazolamide (typically referred to by the brand name Diamox) to help treat altitude sickness. Peruvians support coca leaf tea as a cure, and it seems to work.
The best way to stay safe while traveling in Peru is to use the same common sense that would serve you well in any of the world’s countries – don’t flash money and expensive items, don’t get publicly drunk, don’t pick fights, and do try to be as culturally sensitive as possible. For more specific details, including everything from walking to using public transportation, continue reading this portion of the guide...
Yes, it is safe to walk in Peru if you stick to designated plazas in the city and walking trails when out in nature. In urban settings, you’ll want to pay extra attention when crossing the street – especially when in an area with a busy road. The attitude of “pedestrians always have the right of way” does not exist in Peru. Motorists view the road as their space, so the onus is on you to stay out of their way.
Although this is foreign territory, it’s important that you walk with a purpose. Appear confident; if someone happens to be following you, rather than act mousy and skittish, it’s actually advisable to make strong eye contact – stopping and staring them down indicates that you are aware of your surroundings and their presence, which makes it difficult for them to ‘run up on you’.
Try not to look lost, even if you’re uncertain where you’re going. You may be used to safely relying on your smartphone back home, but that’s a bad idea in Peru – the same goes for fussing over a paper map or guidebook. If you aren’t on a group walking tour, then it’s best to book transportation, or at least stop by a cafe to get your bearings or ask for directions. Bonus? You get to enjoy a nice refreshment before continuing your journey.
When it comes to walking at night, don’t! Male, female, alone, with a group...it doesn’t matter. It is not advisable to wander around Peru alone at night – especially if the area is deserted or in a questionable neighborhood. Play it safe and take a taxi; better yet, use Anywhere’s clean, comfortable, and reliable transportation services.
If you are a woman walking, especially alone, ignore any catcalls you may receive. As upsetting as it is, the best course of action is to ignore these ‘gentlemen’ and keep it moving – go on about your business without acknowledging them.
One final piece of advice: if you have not already, please learn some Spanish. Even a basic command will help you when asking for directions or communicating a threat to your safety.
No, not really. You can drive in Peru, but it is not advisable. Generally, driving yourself around is seen as a freedom, but in Peru, it’s a burden. The rules of the road are very different from what you’re used to at home:
Pedestrians do not have the right of way and are expected to look out for vehicles, rather than have vehicles looking out for them.
Drivers jockey for position and basically fight for control of the road – there is no courtesy, only a very aggressive and macho style of driving.
In Peru, the buses and taxis receive top priority – mostly because they take it by force. Buses especially have the heft to intimidate other drivers as they careen down the road.
Speaking of roads, do not expect Peru’s to be well-maintained. When updates are made to infrastructure, it’s often haphazard and even more inconvenient than your usual repair – think redirecting traffic or standing in the middle of the road to do work without proper warning signage or detour notices.
One more thing, horns are beloved and used liberally. Whether the driver is signaling, “I’m going to pass,” or “You can pass,” is up to you to decipher. In Peru, when a fellow driver honks at you they are sending you a message – hopefully you’ll figure out what it is before you get cut off or sideswiped.
Bottom line, Peru’s style of driving is so aggressive and unique that this is the one time you’re better off not trying to fit in with the locals. Choose Anywhere’s transportation services – leave the driving to local professionals and spend your vacation enjoying the scenery, instead of leaning on your horn and cursing.
Yes, taxis in Peru are safe, so long as you’re being driven by a reputable driver. If you read the previous section, then you’re aware of how Peruvians approach ‘the rules of the road’; if you didn’t read it, here’s what you need to know about taxi drivers in Peru:
Expect the horn to be used liberally.
Drivers are much more aggressive than you’re used to back home.
Motorists can seem erratic as they jockey for position while navigating the roads.
Taxi drivers and bus drivers have deemed themselves the most important vehicles on the road.
Here’s a tip that you may find surprising – in Peru, you’ll want to agree on the price of your fare before your ride. Pay attention to where you’re going; this isn’t just to get your bearings, it’s also to ensure that your driver isn’t circling the same area to make the cost of your fare go up (yet another reason to agree to a price before you get in).
Sit behind the driver and lock your doors. Like every place in the world, Peru is not immune from crime. In the event that you end up with a legitimate taxi driver who decides to misbehave or is in cahoots with thieves, sitting behind the driver makes it more difficult to grab you or snatch money out of your hands. As for locking your door, thieves in Peru are bold – and tugging on the handles of stopped vehicles until one finds an unlocked door is common practice. Unfortunately, it’s a great way of relieving stunned motorists and passengers of some of their belongings before dashing off.
There is nothing wrong with hopping into a reputable taxi, but for the best experience possible, we humbly recommend that you use Anywhere’s transportation services. Local drivers operate clean, cool, well-maintained vehicles, and get you from point A to point B promptly and safely.
In all honesty, no, public transportation is not your safest option for exploring Peru. The problem with public transportation in Peru is that it can be hit or miss. Rickety old buses clearly past their prime speed down roads, but modern, well-maintained buses can also be found. When riding a bus in Peru, you will get what you pay for – the cheapest option will also be the most worrisome experience.
Peruvians have a very aggressive way of driving that can seem erratic to visitors; couple that with winding mountainous roads and it’s easy to be nervous if you’re used to well-maintained roads and ‘courtesy waves’. Barreling down a road in an oversized jalopy won’t exactly calm your nerves, so spring for one of the nation’s major transportation operators, including (but not limited to) Civa, Cruz del Sur, Oltursa, or Ormeno and you’re likely to have a much better (and safer) experience.
There is one thing you must be careful of regardless of whether you choose an economical provider or a well-known provider and that’s keeping your luggage with you at all times. This is especially vital if you find yourself taking an overnight bus. It may seem counterintuitive, but rather than stow your luggage in the overhead compartment, choose the cargo hold on the side of the bus. That way your luggage remains secure until it is time for passengers to unload.
If Peru’s public transportation is your only option for reaching your next destination, choose wisely, spend wisely, and guard your belongings as well as you can. If possible, we advise you to choose Anywhere’s transportation services – let a local driver who operates a clean, cool, safe vehicle help you explore Peru. Shuttle options are available, so you can still economize without riding an infamous ‘chicken bus’.
No, Peru is no more dangerous than any other country or city – it’s all a matter of whether or not you use common sense and remain aware of your surroundings. The nation has its share of drugs and violence, but again, these do not have to impact you if you exercise prudence. Two of the biggest ways travelers get into trouble is being loud and intoxicated in public, and going too far off the beaten path in the quest for an ‘authentic experience’.
Anywhere you go, a drunkard is an obvious and easy target because he or she does not have their full wits and faculties about them. As for authentic experiences, they can be had without aimlessly wandering around a foreign country to “see where we end up”; Anywhere offers destinations in Peru off the beaten path for travelers who want to see more than the top tourist attractions. The best part? You can enjoy an authentic experience without putting yourself in peril. In fact, here’s an article about some of the unique Peruvian adventures you can have when you plan your getaway with an Anywhere Local Expert.
Overall, Peruvian people and culture are wonderful. During your trip to Peru, you will enjoy learning about ancient civilizations, shopping at colorful markets, and feasting upon delicious fusion cuisine. Compared to other Andean countries, Peru’s crime rate is the lowest in the region, making it safer than Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Colombia. Additionally, the nation’s steady economic growth throughout the 21st century has helped facilitate a decrease in overall violence. Furthermore, the tourism industry is actively working on increasing growth/attracting more visitors each year, which means Peru has a vested interest in continuously making strides to keep visitors safe. With this information and your Anywhere Local Expert never more than a(n) email, call, or text away, there’s no reason not to check Peru off of your bucket list.
Peru is a magical land in the Andes, and overall, its citizens are gracious and family oriented. However, no place is immune from bad actors and that includes Peru. Much of the violence in Peru can be traced to a single terrorist organization – Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso). This group started in the late 1950s in the Ayacucho region of Peru. It sprang from the Peruvian Communist Party (PCP) and was led by a professor of philosophy named Abimael Guzmán Reynoso. Eventually Guzmán formed a Maoist faction and split from the PCP. Unfortunately, radical groups found a welcome home in Ayacucho, a region where cuts to the educational system produced a deep resentment of the federal government.
In the 1990s, the Peruvian military managed to arrest key figures in the Shining Path organization. Nowadays, Shining Path’s influence is limited to rural areas, and as a result, Peru experiences a much lower level of violent crime. However, Shining Path still has a wide recruitment base. Younger Peruvians in rural areas may not want to become subsistence farmers, but lack the education necessary to find higher-paying employment in a city. For these underserved youths, Shining Path represents a way out of poverty.
Shining Path is still a problem in the provinces of Ayacucho, Cusco, Hancavelica, Huanuco, Ucayali, and Junin. Visitors should avoid traveling at night through these regions, even on buses; in fact, there are times when travel may not be permitted through these provinces after nightfall. Aside from Cusco, these regions do not have many tourist attractions and are easy to avoid with some planning. The Cusco region’s main attractions, including Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and the city of Cusco, are safe destinations.
Throughout the more dangerous provinces in Peru, local self-defense groups called rondas campesinas work to keep Shining Path’s presence at a minimum. These groups will often stop travelers and demand a toll before allowing them to pass through the area. This is one of the reasons that traveling at night on highways in Peru is discouraged.
Yes, you can safely visit Peru right now (as of the time this guidebook was published), but it’s always best to check with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs (or your country’s equivalent) to verify the most up-to-date information regarding travel safety.
Your biggest concern when it comes to staying safe in Peru is going to be avoiding petty crimes, bad neighborhoods, and regions still plagued by the Shining Path (see previous section, ‘What Places Are Dangerous in Peru?’). Choosing a reputable travel agency is the best way to enjoy an adventure vacation because:
You have your Local Expert in your corner, and an entire local team available by email, telephone, and text/chat.
A comprehensive itinerary with accommodations, activities, and transportation means you are always expected somewhere – even if you’re traveling solo and don’t know anyone in-country.
Professionals know how to design an authentic experience, without sacrificing your safety. Accessing the unique adventures you crave has never been simpler.
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – common sense will take you a long way and keep you safe during your journey. The top ways to keep yourself safe during your travels in Peru are also the simplest:
Do not flash money around, especially in large amounts. Yes, you may need to carry cash because some destinations do not accept credit cards or have ATMs readily available, but there is no reason to carry more cash than you may realistically need for an outing.
In addition to not flashing cash, don’t be flashy in general – there is no need to wear your best jewelry when you’re hiking. Take your photographs and do not make a big deal about it; do not brag about or make a big production of your expensive equipment. Don’t leave electronics unattended, and that includes your smartphone, not just laptops and tablets; in fact, don’t bring these items at all unless it’s 100 percent necessary, after all, you’re on vacation!
Consider using an under the clothes money belt, fanny/hip pack, and even a ‘throwdown wallet’ – an old wallet filled with a small/negligible amount of cash and old gift cards or credit cards that you can literally throw down to get out of a sticky situation. The rationale is that most muggers, car jackers, etc. are so eager to make a quick getaway they’ll quickly snatch it up and run off.
Do not carry your passport around with you while out and about or on adventure excursions; carry photocopies of your information, and leave the original(s) secure in your hotel’s safe, or a secret compartment in your luggage.
Do not wander around – don’t stray from designated paths, leave your tour group, or venture down random alleys and side streets. This kind of aimless ‘exploring’ can lead you into a bad situation that could have easily been avoided.
If you get lost, order a drink at a cafe and get your bearings; ask the waitstaff for assistance. Do not walk around with a smartphone or even a map in hand and become engrossed and unaware of your surroundings.
Do your best to learn at least a little bit of Spanish so that you can better communicate if you do have an emergency.
Most crimes against tourists have nothing to do with cocaine or terrorism. They are instead motivated by poverty. Lima’s large underserved population has created an environment of persistent petty theft. It’s unfortunate, but to put it into perspective: travelers = unspoken wealth. Whether it’s a luxury vacation or a budget vacation, you can afford international airfare, accommodations, food, fun activities, and souvenirs in the same country someone else is struggling to survive in – all while maintaining your life/residence in your home country. Is robbing you wrong? Of course, but to a petty thief, you can clearly afford the loss, and you’ll still be able to return home – unlike them, you won’t starve due to this.
As a traveler, you must be wary of situations that put you at risk of robbery. Thefts usually occur in areas with large numbers of tourists. High levels of petty theft have been reported in areas like Plaza de Armas and Plaza San Martin in Lima, as well as the Sacsayhusaman site in Cusco.
Keep your eyes open for purse-snatchers and pickpockets. Use common sense measures to keep your belongings safe. If you carry a handbag or purse, make sure it closes securely. Keep your valuables where you can see them, and make sure to leave your most valuable possessions locked in a safety deposit box at your hotel. Electronics such as tablets and smartphones are some of the items most commonly stolen from tourists – they’re easy to grab and go when someone is focused on their device instead of their surroundings.
The best way to keep your money safe when vacationing in Peru (or anywhere, really) is to not flash it around. People can’t take what they don’t know you have. Putting yourself on display by flashing a lot of cash is not only in poor taste, it’s incredibly foolish. As we’ve mentioned before, don’t carry large sums of money while out and about.
True, some of Peru’s adventures in remote destinations will mean that you may not have access to credit card machines or ATMs, however that means there’s even less reason to carry a lot of money on you – you’ll have a difficult time replacing it. Take what you need relative to the task at hand; if you’re visiting a marketplace, you may want to buy souvenirs and therefore will need a little more pocket money; if you’re going on a hike, perhaps you’ll want to purchase a bottle of water, which doesn’t require you to carry a lot of cash. It’s all common sense.
If you read “How to Avoid Crime in Peru While on Vacation?”, then you will already be aware of some additional tips. If you did not – consider using an under the clothes money belt or a fanny/hip pack, rather than a wallet that someone can pickpocket or a purse that can have the straps cut or otherwise be easily snatched.
Want even more peace of mind? Carry a ‘throwdown’ wallet. If you get in a jam, this is an old or inexpensive wallet that has a small amount of cash, used gift cards, or expired credit cards that you can literally throw down for a would-be mugger. They’ll either grab it and go, or you can make your escape while they collect their ill-gotten ‘treasures’.
No, crime is not a problem in Peru anymore than it is elsewhere in the world. In other words, Peru has crime (like every other nation on Earth), but it’s nothing you can’t avoid with a little common sense. Peru has a well-deserved reputation as a safe country to visit. Travelers to Peru can feel confident exploring villages in the Andes and cities along the northern coast. Peruvians are known for their hospitality and friendliness, and typically make a positive impression on visitors. Follow the advice in the previous sections (especially “How to Avoid Crime in Peru While on Vacation”?) and you should have a great time.
Peru vs. Mexico – each country boasts beautiful scenery, ruins, and a rich and colorful history. With so many similarities, how do you choose between themt? More importantly, how do you decide which country is safer? In all honesty, both Peru and Mexico have their share of issues with petty theft, drugs, vandalism, and other types of crime, which is why we keep reiterating that it all comes down to common sense.
What we can say is that Peru is making a concerted effort to not only maintain, but increase the annual amount of travelers who come and enjoy the country. Naturally, making sure that travelers have a safe and positive experience is a significant part of ensuring that visitors keep adding Peru to their bucket lists.
From Machu Picchu to the Floating Islands of Uros, there are so many magical things to experience in Peru. You can see them all comfortably and confidently when you choose to travel with Anywhere, our in-country Local Experts have relationships with the hotels, tour providers, and drivers you’ll be using throughout your trip. Have a question or need assistance after you’ve arrived in Peru? You can count on Anywhere’s help and guidance until you land back home. So, when you choose Peru over Mexico, you’re also choosing the ongoing support we offer every step of your journey.
Peru vs. Ecuador; the same crimes that are found in other countries in the world are found here. When it comes to remaining safe in these neighboring nations, what you really need to remain aware of is where you visit. Lima, Peru and Guayaquil, Ecuador are two destinations where it’s important to follow the advice of your Anywhere Local Expert, as well as your itinerary. It’s easy to find yourself in an unsafe situation if you don’t know these areas; meanwhile a travel professional will ensure that your accommodations, activities, and transportation keep you away from unsavory neighborhoods from the get-go.
Both Ecuador and Peru are stunning in their own right, but these two Andean countries can offer a very different experience. In Ecuador, you can enjoy plenty of Spanish-Colonial architecture, the Galapagos Islands, and even surfing. In Peru, you’re going to spend most of your time exploring the landscape, learning about traditional customs, and enjoying cultural exchanges. Since Anywhere offers our expertise in each of these destinations, it’s less about which country is safer and more a matter of determining what adventures you want to experience on your next getaway.
Peru is safe to visit because the government and tourism board has a vested interest in ensuring that travelers continue to enjoy everything the nation has to offer. From wonders such as the Nazca Lines and Machu Picchu, to internationally award-winning cuisine and even a museum filled with golden treasures, Peru continues to gain notoriety as a “travel must” – and the nation intends to keep it that way. That means making sure visitors have a pleasant and safe time. This, all of the common sense tips you’ve received in this guide, and the ongoing support of your Anywhere Local Expert are all you need to spend your time in Peru enjoying adventure after adventure.
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