If you’re someone who’s not particularly fond of mainstream destinations, then you might consider visiting Peru. It’s an amazing place that should definitely be on your list, as it brings unique experiences. The Amazon, Machu Pichu and other attractions are sure to offer you a great time in this country.
It has amazing landscapes, and has a great potential to make you happy. However, before going there, you have to make some research, just like with any place. You can’t carelessly run to a new country without having any knowledge about it.
Knowledge can make you avoid certain situations and make your trip more magical. You don’t want to experience anything that could ruin your long-awaited holiday, so knowledge is essential.
If you plan to visit Peru sometime soon but you don’t know how safe is Peru for tourists, then you are about to find out. Read this Peru safety guide, and you’ll be able to decide whether a trip to Peru is worth it or not. Let’s begin!
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Peru
Overall Risks in Peru: MEDIUM
Although the authorities are making sure that tourists are safe, it doesn’t exclude the risk of unwanted incidents.
There are rainy seasons that could cause flooding, mudslides and landslides.
There can be also protests and demonstrations taking place, and they can turn violent. The risk of terrorist attacks is also there.
Theft could also happen, especially if you’re a tourist and visibly perplexed. Bogus taxi drivers are waiting for the right moment to strike and attract tourists. They can then rob you.
With some knowledge and care, you could avoid any incidents.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risk in Peru: MEDIUM
In many cities such as Arequipa, Lima and Cusco, thefts and muggings pose a big threat. Withdrawing cash from an ATM is a great risk as well, as someone could watch and wait for the right moment to snatch the money.
Lately, there have been a number of thefts at gunpoint, which affected British tourists and residents in tourist areas of Barranco and Miraflores. The incidents happened both at night and during the day.
Many times, bogus taxi drivers target tourists, as they seem vulnerable in an unknown place. Usually, unsafe drivers offer cheaper fares than normal, which often indicates a lure for robbery. Also, there have been moments when luggage has been stolen, as it was too visible.
Another common thing is passport theft. It usually happens at bus stations and inter-city buses. Passengers are sometimes robbed when buses are held up.
Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport seems to be a favorite place for bogus taxi drivers. Most of the times, they approach arriving passengers pretending to be tour operators.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Peru?
First of all, make sure that you are not drawing attention to you. Always pay attention to everything and everyone who surrounds you, and keep your valuables hidden. Keep them safe, and don’t let your guard down. If you have a bag, carry it in front of you to watch it in a better way.
Don’t walk alone in quiet areas, both during the day and during the night. Incidents can happen at any time, so better safe than sorry. Don’t let your guard down if you need to withdraw money from an ATM.
If you’re attacked, don’t try to fight back or take any action that could result in a tragedy. It’s essential to report any incident to the local police.
If you hail a taxi on the street, make sure that you note the registration number before you do anything. However, it would be a better option to book a taxi from a reputable company or use a registered taxi at the bus terminal.
When using the inter-city bus, especially at night, take care of your belongings, such as any valuable and your passport. Be wary of anything that surrounds you.
If you’re a victim of any theft, report it to the police immediately, so they can investigate and help you.
Scam Risk in Peru: MEDIUM TO HIGH
As mentioned, every area is at risk, wherever you go. You should never take anything for granted, and it’s important to be precautious and don’t let your guard down.
Just as mentioned above – taxi drivers are not to be trusted so easily. Bogus taxi drivers are waiting for their next victim. Make sure you don’t trust people who are approaching you at the airport. Instead of hailing a taxi on the street, it would be better to order one from a safe company.
Some people have reported scam websites that promise to provide you with accommodation in Lima. The websites were apparently imitating genuine accommodation providers. Such scammers provide you with a fake link to the website, and ask you for money in return for accommodation. Ensure that the source is genuine before sending any money, as you don’t want to be scammed.
There are also scam tactics that include distracting you while stealing your valuables. These scammers act in groups, and one of them distracts you while the others rob. For instance, it can take the form of children fighting in front of you. This will, of course, distract you, and you may want to stop them. While you concentrate on stopping it, some other individuals are stealing your belongings.
If could also happen like this: Someone bumps into you and “accidentally” spills something on your clothes. Trying to make it look like an accident, and acting like they’re really sorry, they will attempt to help you clean the mess. This is a very common tactic of distracting people. While this person tries to clean the spilled substance, others will try to steal any valuable they could. Be aware of this tactic, and if it happens to you, walk away and try to clean the mess yourself.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Peru?
Given the large number of scams that you are prone to while visiting Peru, it is important that you take everything with a grain of salt, so to say. For example, if you find e better deal for your accommodation or touristic guide, you should double-check its security and reliability. Don't choose the cheaper options as they may turn out to be nothing but scams. This is why we highly recommend you to choose only trusted travel agencies, hotels or motels, and tour guides - as well as any other major services you may use during your stay.
As for the street scammers, so to call them, you should simply avoid anyone that's trying to approach, talk to, or request your help. Unless you know that person, it is better to just ignore anyone that's trying to have a conversation with you. True, you may seem a bit rude to them, but you'd rather be cautious than scammed, right?
If you think someone has scammed you, then alert the police immediately and do not try to fight your way to justice with the scammer. Most of the time, they are armed with at least a knife, as well as with one or more accomplices. Let the police do its job - not you! However, in order to avoid serious issues, you should not have any ID on you while traveling after you arrived in Peru, as well as large amounts of money or jewellery on you. Keep everything to a minimum and, if you get scammed or pickpocketed, you won't lose too much!
Kidnapping Risk in Peru: MEDIUM
Even though they are not as common, there are some things to take into account when it comes to kidnapping.
Apparently, there has been a number of “express kidnappings” that grows in South America. Apparently, some people who travel to Peru are held against their will, and forced to extract cash from the ATM. The cash is meant to be given to the kidnappers, otherwise they won’t set you free.
There have been cases when the victim has been kept for longer, until the account was fully drained of money. However, they are usually released once the withdrawal limit is reached.
To be safe and not have all of your money stolen, you could set up a separate traveling account. You can have this in case something happens to you, so you won’t be left poor and hopeless.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Peru?
As you probably know, one can easily avoid kidnapping or any other violent crime by sticking to popular and crowded areas of a certain city. Keep in mind that any world capital has its dangerous parts and cannot be entirely safe!
Therefore, you have to stay within the areas where you feel protected. For example, your accommodation and the surrounding areas are perfect for you to spend the morning and even the evening. If something happens, you'll know where to take cover, so to say. The same applies for touristic objectives and crowded places, as there's little to no chances that you'd be kidnapped there. However, you shouldn't be in these places after dark, as you will have to walk or take a taxi back to your accommodation.
When looking for a taxi, it is better to call rather than hail one down the street. You don't know what kind of driver you'll get if you get into a random cab - they may overcharge you, take you to a wrong destination, assault you, or even kidnap you. When it comes to transportation, rely on reputable and well-known companies and services.
Last but not least, you should avoid walking alone in shady areas, such as dark alleyways, the city outskirts, the slums, or bad-reputed neighborhoods. If you plan to travel outside of the city, you should always be accompanied by a tour guide.
Terrorism Risk in Peru: MEDIUM
When thinking about terrorism, you may wonder “is Peru safe to visit?” .
You should always consider the possibility of terrorism. It could happen at any time, and terrorists don’t care if you’re a tourist who has no idea of the country. They will just act, not caring about your long-awaited vacation. Therefore, any terrorist attack may happen, even in places that foreigners frequent.
Although the internal terrorism that took place during the 1980s and 1990s has ended, the risk is still there. The Shining Path terrorist movement still has some remnants, and they are still active and willing to cause disasters. Usually, they are active in the main coca growing areas in the centre of Peru. Some of these are Aguaytia, Apurimac-Ene VRAE river basins and Alto Huallaga.
There are many individuals and groups who are motivated by the conflict in Syria and Iraq. The risk is higher for British people, as there’s a bigger threat of a global terrorist attack against British nationals and UK interests. It’s better to be alert and not take any risk.
Make sure that you avoid walking through isolated areas in any of the mentioned regions, especially at night. Before taking any route, check with reputable tour operators, so you feel safer.
- How to avoid terrorism in Peru?
As mentioned above, even though the risk of terrorism is low to medium - in other words, little to no risk at all -, travelers must still consider the dangers that a foreign country comes with. Given the age we live in, there's no country that is currently free of terrorism, mainly because every single country is susceptible to such acts. In this respect, it is important for traveling people to be cautious when visiting foreign countries.
For example, you wouldn't want to visit border areas, especially if the country you are in has a neighbor with a history of terrorism. Other than that, you should do your best to limit the time you spend in places of prayer, crowded places such as markets and shopping malls, and official buildings - embassies, offices, and so on. It is known that this kind of buildings/ places are usually targeted by terrorists.
On top of all of the above, it is worth mentioning that, if something actually happens, you should not panic and flee to safety as quickly as possible. If you notice any suspicious people or items on the ground, you should make a location switch instead of wondering what could be happening. In short, don't take any risks!
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Peru: MEDIUM
If your question is “Is Peru safe for solo women travelers?”, then you should know that the risk is just like in any other place. You can’t trust anyone, and it’s important to be very careful as a woman, especially if you don’t have company.
Rapes have taken place in Peru as well, especially in areas from Arequipa and Cusco. There are tour agents who target women who travel alone in the Cusco area, and take advantage of them.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Peru?
Make sure not to walk alone in any area, as you are vulnerable when you’re alone. When going to a club, make sure that you don’t have any stranger buying drinks for you. It can turn out bad.
Buy your own drinks and keep them safe. Don’t lose their sight even for a moment, as there can be unscrupulous people adding substances to your drink. If you start feeling sick or anything of that sort, try to seek someone’s help. If anything’s out of hand, call the authorities and let them know.
Rape Risk in Peru: MEDIUM
Peru comes with a medium rape of risk, mainly because of the instability of these acts of sexual violence within the country. On the other hand, even the number of cases is low, we've noticed that this number has been constantly increasing since 2003. For example, 2005 had roughly 23 cases per 100,000 population, 2011 had 25, while 2015 had 29.3 cases per 100,000 population. This means that, in 2015, there were 9000 cases of rape across Peru - and only 6000 in 2005. Compared to bigger countries and economies, these numbers are relatively small - but must be taken into account by traveler and not only!
Moreover, sources state that rape does currently happen in Peru, especially in the Arequipa and Cusco areas. Therefore, we cannot talk about isolated cases that could not affect tourists. You must be very careful while traveling and learn more about the use of "date rape" drugs and such. Obviously, you shouldn't travel alone while in Peru - if you do so, it is better to limit yourself to tourist-friendly places.
- How to avoid getting raped in Peru?
Rape can be easily avoided if you treat this situation with common sense, so to speak. In this regard, you should approach a decent dress code and avoid the display of jewellery or money. Make yourself aware of the country's local laws and customs so that you know what you should be wearing and how to behave in order to attract as little attention towards you as possible. If you are traveling to Peru, your purpose should not be to make yourself seen or to impress the locals - a lot of bad things can happen when you try to be the center of attention.
Then, you should avoid any bars, clubs, or pubs, especially if you are alone. Not only that you make yourself prone to pickpockets and robbers but also to sexual violence. The use of "date rape" drugs and such has been reported in Peru and you should do everything in your power to avoid being a victim. For example, order your own drinks, don't leave them unattended, and do not accept any drinks from strangers. In fact, do not interact with any strangers, keep yourself out of any dangerous situations, and have a curfew in place! You don't want to stay up too late, in a pub, in a foreign country!
Risks for People Traveling with Children in Peru: MEDIUM
Usually, people think that if they travel with their children, there's little to nothing that can happen to them. This is because, according do them, who would try to hurt a child and their family? Well, you'd be surprised how many thieves and scammers would use your children as a pretext to get money or items from you. In fact, some beggar might get a hold of your child and tell you to give him some money - even ten dollars - on the spot, out of a sudden! Naturally, you'd do it!
However, it is better if you learn how to avoid such scenarios!
Moreover, there's also the general situation of Peru that should worry you. Sources tell that local protests are quite common in this country and that they can also turn violent in the blink of an eye. In such situations, it would be very bad if you were caught in the middle of a protest with your children around you. Lastly, their health has to be taken into consideration as well. You will have to bring a lot more medicine with you, as well as pills/ ointments that they may need!
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
In order to avoid any unwanted scenarios, you have to be extremely cautious, as well as able to keep an eye on the little ones at all times. For example, do your best to avoid any demonstrations or crowded areas, especially if you don't have a designated children watcher, so to say. If you can't take care of them when traveling through a certain area, then don't travel through that area. Keep in mind that, when traveling with children, you kind of forfeit some of the things that you'd usually do during a trip.
You won't be able to rush through shopping malls or areas of interest, as you'll have to keep the pace with the little ones. If you can't understand this, then you shouldn't be traveling with them! Moreover, you should not be alone in such circumstances - have a friend or relative accompany you, as you will definitely need more than just one helping hand!
In the end, make sure that you bring any medicine that the little one may need with you. Peru comes with risks of Zika virus, Yellow fever, and diarrhea due to contaminated water or food. You should bring with you anything that can prevent or combat such afflictions. In short, you have to really take care of your children while traveling in a foreign country - in some ways, you have to care for themselves better than you do for you!
Natural Disasters Risks in Peru: MEDIUM to HIGH
If you’re wondering “how safe is Peru for tourists?” when it comes to natural disasters, you should know that there is a possibility of them happening.
Peru is an active earthquake zone and there can be frequent earthquakes. In case you’re outside when it strikes, stay away from buildings and objects that could fall. There is a risk of power lines or trees falling, so stay away from them and you’re going to be safe.
If you’re inside a building, make sure you stay away from windows. In most buildings, there are safe zones marked with an “S” sign. Make your way to them and stay there until it’s safe to move.
Tsunamis are rare in Peru, but an earthquake may cause higher tides. Keep this in mind after an earthquake, in case you’re near the sea.
There are also areas with volcanic activity. If you’re visiting one of these areas, pay attention to all warnings. Moreover, follow the advice given by local authorities. Doing this ensures you know exactly how safe is Peru for tourists near volcano areas.
The risk of flooding and landslides is also there. Therefore, if you want to know if Peru is safe to visit, you should have knowledge about the rainy seasons. The season is from November to April. During this period, there can be heavy rains and snows in the Andes. Torrential rains have also been happening in other parts of the country, like Cusco.
As a result of the rainy seasons, there can be disruptions caused by rock, mudslides, land and snow to rail travel and roads. They could happen on the routes to Machu Pichu, Cusco and the north of Peru. River levels also rise.
If your trip is during the rainy seasons, then you should take some precautions. When travelling in any of these areas, be very careful. Check the latest weather conditions with your tour operator. Before going to your long-awaited journey, monitor the local media for updates. It’s better to know the safety of the trip before acting.
Transportation Risks in Peru: MEDIUM
If you plan on driving in Peru - or simply traveling there -, you can find a lot of information on the Peruvian Ministry of Tourism's website. The information is provided to you in English and it covers local tourist information as well as some telephone numbers that you can call in case of an emergency. The website also features a map of the government offices that can help you travel around the country. This means that you can ask for their assistance before going to a certain location.
In terms of general transportation and travel, you should avoid any tour or trip to areas of intensive coca cultivation, as these areas are known to harbor organized crime, terrorism, and drug dealers. Intensive coca cultivation and processing takes place in Apurimac-Ene, Aguaytia, Alto Huallaga, and Mantaro river basins. On top of that, sources tell that the Remnants of the Shining Path terrorist group occasionally engages in attacks and ambushes on local authorities and military forces. You should avoid traveling or driving through such areas!
When you plan activities such as zipline, kayaking, bungee jumping, and so on, make sure that the agency you purchase these services from is properly licensed. There's a wide number of unregulated tour services across Peru that, despite offering tourists the opportunity to go paragliding and such, might not respect safety regulations and put your life in danger. You should always check for a tour's safety and health precautions before buying any type of services from them.
When driving, do not try to pass any blockades, especially if you are close to protest areas. You must also carry your passport with you at all times. In terms of standards, driving in Peru can be classified as poor, mainly because most drivers ignore traffic lights and stop signs. According to several sources, Peru comes with frequent fatal crashes. On top of that, pedestrians are often ignored by drivers - which is why you have to pay attention when you are not driving as well.
Moreover, it is said that bus crashes are common as well, mainly during the night. Once again, we recommend you to use only reputable and respectable transport companies and, if possible, avoid overnight travel. It goes without saying that you should always wear a seat belt while inside a vehicle!
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Peru: MEDIUM to HIGH
As mentioned earlier, Peru comes with a certain risk of exposure to "date rape" drugs and similar substances. In this respect, all kinds of travelers - male, female, and so on - must be extremely cautious while visiting a night-club, pub, or bar. The first step to avoiding such situations in a club is to not travel alone! It goes without saying that you should not visit a night-club if you don't have someone close to you to keep you company and make you feel safe.
On top of that, you should not trust any new acquaintances that you make during your stay in Peru, as people are willing to stick to very long plans in order to get something valuable in the end. Therefore, do not trust anyone else but you, your close friends, or family. If you are traveling alone and still want to visit a night-club, pub, or bar, then we recommend you to approach a tourist group, befriend them, and then plan a visit to a well-known, reputable location. Again, you should still not trust any of them - in some cases, your own kin can be much more dangerous than any local. In short, consume alcohol responsibly and don't trust in the person near you!
Speaking of alcohol, you should avoid any unknown drinks to you! Make sure that, whatever you drink, you notice the addition of any other substances to it - such as date rape drugs. In this respect, you should say no to alcohol while traveling. If not, make sure to order your own drinks and see them being prepared, don't leave them unattended, and refuse any drinks offered by strangers. If you start to feel unwell, try to either seek help from people you know or call a taxi as soon as possible. Any dangerous situation or event is to be reported to the police as soon as possible - they will start investigations and eventually find the criminal.
Long story short, don't stay too long in night-clubs, pubs, and bars. Sources tell that tour agents and taxi drivers have targeted female travelers in Peru, especially in the Cusco area. Therefore, you should tread carefully and keep an eye on your surroundings at all times!
Health Risks in Peru
Various health authorities have classified the country of Peru as having a risk of transmission for the Zika virus. You should reach as much information about this particular virus, as well as advice on how to avoid/ prevent it before traveling to Peru. Moreover, it is known that Yellow fever is endemic in certain areas of the country - again, make sure that you know how to protect yourself against such diseases and viruses.
While traveling through Peru, you may also come across contaminated water and food, as it is common throughout the country. When eating or drinking outside of your accommodation, make sure that the locations - restaurants of cafes - comply with the safety and health regulations in place. You should not eat food from street vendors, as it may be contaminated, and you should drink only bottled or boiled water.
If you happen to get ill, keep in mind that medical treatment can be expensive here. On top of that, it is not widely available - meaning that you may not be provided with medical care, depending on the location you are in. Therefore, make sure you either don't get sick or bring enough funds with you to cover the costs of any medical treatment, emergency transportation, emergency evacuation, and repatriation. Naturally, you should not be traveling without adequate travel health insurance - it is more than just mandatory, especially when traveling to a place with more than one serious health risk!
List of Vaccines You Need in Peru
Before your trip, make sure to visit your doctor, at least 4 to 6 weeks earlier. They can tell you if any vaccination is needed.
Apparently, UK health authorities have declared that Peru is at risk of transmitting the Zika virus.
Additionally, there are areas where you could contact yellow fever, so be careful what part of the country you choose. Also, there could also be contaminated water or food, and they can cause various health issues.
Vaccines you may need before visiting Peru are:
- Flu shot
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Yellow fever
Moreover, make sure you have travel health insurance before the trip. Medical treatment in another country can be more pricey than what you’re used to.
Most Dangerous Areas in Peru
- Puerto de Maldonado - Madre de Dios region
- Cusco area
Concluding Remarks: Is Peru safe to visit?
Although the risk is there, there are about 66,000 British nationals visiting Peru annually without any major incidents happening. Knowledge about the risks can help you avoid thinks like taxi scammers, terrorist attack areas and natural disaster tragedies. Hopefully, this Peru safety guide helped you decide whether a trip to Peru is a good idea or not.