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 Risk 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.
Theft Risk: 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 favourite place for bogus taxi drivers. Most of the times, they approach arriving passengers pretending to be tour operators.
- How to avoid theft incidents?
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.
Risk for female alone travellers: MEDIUM
If your question is “Is Peru safe for solo women travellers?”, 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 any unwanted incident?
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.
Scam Risk: 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.
Kidnapping Risk: 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 travelling account. You can have this in case something happens to you, so you won’t be left poor and hopeless.
Terrorism Risk: 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.
Natural Disasters Risk: 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.
List of Vaccines You Need When You Visit 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.
Conclusion: 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.