The possibility of crime or violence in Peru is no greater than in most major cities around the world. Travel in Peru is relatively safe and is very different from the terror of the 80s and 90s. As poverty is still an issue in Peru, petty crime, in particular, is prominent. However, the key to being safe anywhere in the world is to be prepared, be sensible, and take care of your possessions. In this article, we will provide you with information on safety, crimes, and scams.
Safety in Peru
Common tourist crimes
Petty crime is widespread throughout Peru. Credit card fraud is common so be sure to keep your purse or wallet in sight. Card skimming is one of the main practices of credit card fraud, so try to withdraw money from banks during the day and beware of shopkeepers delaying the return of your card after a purchase. Counterfeit notes are often circulated so use banks or other institutions to exchange currency. Street crime and pickpocketing occur at markets, crowded areas and bus and train stations.
We recommend having a separate bank account with minimum funds necessary to avoid being cleaned out in case of credit card fraud. It is also wise to carry just enough cash with you to get you through the day.
Safety for solo travelers
Traveling alone around Peru is common. However, tourists traveling alone can be seen as a target for local thieves. Distraction is the key to petty theft, so be aware of your surroundings; if someone falls in front of you, it might be part of a plan to pickpocket you as your attention has been diverted; if someone approaches you out of the blue it probably means they are interested in your dollars. Like in all places, muggings occur in dark isolated areas at night, so wandering the streets alone at this time is not recommended.
Safety for female travelers
Women travelers can feel safe in Peru but may draw attention from locals, especially if traveling alone. Women may receive unwanted comments in the streets from locals, but it is best to ignore the catcalling. Do not be afraid to reject someone’s advances and reject them – if it does not feel right, it probably is not. Also, do not accept drinks from strangers in bars and try to catch a glimpse of your drink being poured so that you know your drink is not being spiked. Using your common sense and trusting your judgment, just like you would anywhere, is the best policy.
Safety when using taxis or Ubers
Transport when traveling, particularly for solo travelers, can be stressful. Having a grasp of the Spanish language can be helpful when having to take public transport or taxis and understanding the local modes of transport is key. When taking Uber, you know you will be charged what a local is charged, and being able to select your collection and drop off point on the app is an advantage, especially if your Spanish is a little rusty.
When visiting a tropical South American country like Peru, there are certain health issues and potential risks which travelers need to be aware of. Common traveler’s diseases include diarrhea, altitude sickness, acute mountain sickness and sun exposure. These can be avoided with some simple tips.
Tap water in Peru is not safe, even in major hotels. Visitors should drink bottled water and avoid ice. Bottled water is widely available in Peru, and it is recommended that you take bottled water with you when available, particularly if taking a long journey. In situations where bottled water is not available, such as hiking in the mountains or traveling to remote areas, it is suggested you boil the water to remove bacteria or use water-purification tablets. The high altitudes of the Andes and the dry desert heat along the coast can dehydrate you very quickly, so carry bottled water with you.
Altitude sickness occurs at a height of approximately 8,200 feet (2,500m) above sea level. It can affect everyone regardless of fitness levels, gender, and age. Those with medical conditions are more susceptible. Due to Peru’s altitude and terrain, it is likely that you may feel altitude sickness at some point, given that Machu Picchu, Cusco, the Inca Trail and Lake Titicaca all exceed the elevation threshold.
To help with altitude sickness, there are several recommendations. Firstly, it is important to take it easy and move at your own pace as your body must adjust to the low oxygen levels, so try to avoid ascending over 1,000 ft (300m) a day. Visiting your doctor before traveling is also a good idea as they might prescribe you some medication to help or prevent altitude sickness. Coca is the natural local remedy; coca has high vitamin levels and is taken by either chewing the leaves or drinking it as a tea. Two cups of coca tea per day is fine.
Insects & bug bites
Many infectious diseases such as Dengue Fever, malaria, Zika virus and Yellow fever are transmitted by mosquitoes. Prevention is better than cure, so it is advisable to wear long sleeves, long pants, hats, and shoes. Insect repellent with DEET is also recommended. Yellow fever is transmitted in forest areas at altitudes below 7,500ft (2,300 meters). Yellow fever vaccination is strongly recommended approximately 10 days before travel to potentially dangerous areas.
Would you imagine your holidays in Peru?
Peru is a country that ignites the imagination of travelers worldwide…