With landscapes ranging from towering mountains all the way to dense rainforest, Peru is definitely an amazing place to visit. Couple it with colonial heritage as well as the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu and you have yourself one hell of a destination.
But the country is not devoid of perils. Corrupt politicians, severe weather, dangerous animals, sketchy mountain roads, insurgent groups, drug traffickers; all of this may rightly have you wondering, “is Peru safe?”
Your concern is totally understandable. To help you ease your worries, we have created this epic insiders guide complete with the top tips of how to stay safe in Peru. We’re all about travelling smart at The Broke Backpacker, so we want to help you out with some major pointers that’ll keep your trip trouble-free.
There’s a whole lot of ground to cover. This includes whether or not it’s safe to travel to Peru right now (there are some political issues currently underway), whether it’s safe for a family trip, and even if it’s safe to drive. Peru is a growingly complex country so there will lots more besides these.
You may be a first-time solo traveler worried about a solo trip to Peru. Maybe you’ve heard how amazing the cuisine is and you’re wondering if the food in Peru is safe. You may just be anxious about Peru in general.
Don’t worry. Our insider guide has you covered.
Table of Contents
- How Safe is Peru? (Our take)
- Is Peru Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
- Is it Safe to Visit Peru Right Now?
- Peru Travel Insurance
- 29 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Peru
- Keeping your money safe in Peru
- Is Peru safe to travel alone?
- Is Peru safe for solo female travelers?
- Is Peru safe to travel for families?
- Is it safe to drive in Peru?
- Is Uber safe in Peru?
- Are taxis safe in Peru?
- Is public transportation in Peru safe?
- Is the food in Peru safe?
- Can you drink the water in Peru?
- Is Peru safe to live?
- How is healthcare in Peru?
- Helpful Peru Travel Phrases
- Final thoughts on the safety of Peru
How Safe is Peru? (Our take)
So you want to go to Peru.
We’re all for that!
There’s the Andes, the Peruvian coastline where you’ll find the storied capital of Lima, and even the Amazon Rainforest, which covers a whopping 60% of the country!
But safety in Peru is another issue. Petty theft is definitely an issue, the political landscape is almost reaching turmoil levels, and drugs (well, the gangs that traffic them and all the violence that comes with that) are a growing problem in Peru.
Then there’s the rainforest. Chances are you’ll want to visit this amazing place. Whilst it IS incredibly cool, it’s full of dangerous critters and getting lost is dangerous. Even an ayahuasca ceremony can be lethal (more on that later).
But traveling smart is going to increase your chances of staying safe. Not looking like a complete tourist will help you NOT be a target of street crime. Being careful of your surroundings is also going to pay off too – literally.
Is Peru Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
Peru is definitely a popular stomping ground on the South American backpacking itinerary. Who doesn’t want to see Machu Picchu, right?
Because of all the totally cool things you can see, do and visit here, tourism is big news. 4.4 million tourists visited in 2018, a figure that’s grown 25% over the past 5 years. That’s A LOT!
Adventure tourism, beaches, history and a big helping of eco-tourism make it a perfect destination for everybody, from the casual tourist to the intrepid traveler.
That doesn’t mean it’s not without its issues, though. Crime happens, as it does everywhere, but in Peru, you’ll likely to be targeted BECAUSE you’re a tourist. Visitors are often seen as wealthy. In comparison to the locals, you probably are.
Theft, mugging, pickpocketing in crowded places, as well as corruption with many people from the police to even tour agents, make it a potentially scary place to visit. So do drug trafficking gangs – and political demonstrations that turn violent.
That said, in 2017 Peru had the fifth lowest murder rate in Latin America and the Caribbean, and it’s declining.
Is it Safe to Visit Peru Right Now?
Right now Peru seems in the middle of a turning point in its political landscape.
Many of its high ranking politicians, including ex-presidents, are being accused of or jailed for corruption; scandal after scandal after scandal. There are A LOT of demonstrations going on as a result as well, so steer well clear.
Now, it’s all about reforms against corruption.
Aside from the politics of Peru, it’s pretty much as safe a time as any to visit. Lima, in particular, has become a lot safer in recent years – it used to see a higher proportion of the country’s overall crime rate.
The leftist, drug trafficking group Shining Path is currently having a resurgence in the main coca growing regions. Firefights between them and the Peruvian military are sporadic but ongoing.
But you still might want to pick WHEN you travel wisely. The rainy season in Peru can be devastating. We’re talking floods, power outages, landslides, and all are pretty unsafe if you ask us. Try not to travel between November and April.
Peru is also in an earthquake zone and there are active volcanoes too. Knowing what to do in the event of a disaster is the best way to stay safe, as these things are unpredictable.
Do you need Travel Insurance for your trip? Even if you’re only going for a few days, that’s more than enough time to get buggered by wicked men or smote by wrathful angels. Have fun in Peru, but take it from us, overseas medical care and canceled flights can be seriously expensive – insurance can, therefore, be a life-saver.
Travel mishaps can and do happen and it is well worth thinking about insurance before you leave home.
We have used World Nomads for years now and I have personally made several claims. Why not get a quote from them yourself?
Do be sure to read the terms and conditions to make sure that the policy covers your needs.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
If you want to shop around a little, then read up on competing companies and what they can offer. There are lots of insurances out there, so don’t feel limited.
So the political situation might not be great in Peru right now, and crime may still be a big problem, but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit Peru and stay safe. Many tourists visit and have a trouble-free time! It’s all about being aware of your surroundings, we’d say. But to get into more detail here’s a round up of the best travel tips for staying safe in Peru.
- Don’t wear flashy clothes or jewelry – looking rich is basically just going to make you a target for thieves.
- …Or have an SLR dangling round your neck, expensive phone in your hand, etc. – ditto.
- Try not to look lost – even if you are! Looking like a tourist (i.e. RICH) is also going to make you a target…
- Wandering around at night is a no-no – ESPECIALLY by yourself, ESPECIALLY in a city, ESPECIALLY in a deserted/sketchy part.
- Be aware of techniques used by thieves – distraction techniques, like cutting your bag open on a bus, are the most common ways that robbers get ya.
- Stick to well-trodden routes if you’re near the Ecuadorian border – because of landmines. For real.
- Don’t wander around dodgy areas of town – every town has ’em. Doing research, or asking the staff at your hostel, will help you avoid ‘bad’ areas.
- Learn some local lingo – that’s Spanish, of course, and it will help if you’re lost, need some help, or just wanna talk to locals.
- Use ATMs during the day… preferably INSIDE a bank – these are hotspots for muggings. Put your money in a special belt as well.
- Careful where you walk – pedestrians aren’t always safe in cities. In rural areas, there are dangerous insects and snakes as well!
- DON’T BUY OR DO DRUGS – ALL AT YOUR OWN RISK. The perfect way to meet seriously dodgy people. Plus, you never know what it’s cut with. Don’t contribute to this huge problem. You could even land yourself in Peruvian prison.
- Only drink what you buy and watch it when you’re out – drink spiking happens.
- Don’t overdo it – take steps to avoid hypothermia (too cold) and heat exhaustion (too hot). Stay hydrated. sit out big treks if you need to.
- Be careful with ayahuasca ceremonies – proceed with caution. Many do it but don’t feel like you HAVE to. Can lead to a dangerous situation.
- Do your research when heading out on a trek – there have been reports of people being robbed on certain routes. A trek through a very well reviewed hostel is probably the best bet.
- Don’t always stay at the cheapest accommodation – good reviews only. If that means more expensive, it’s better that than a horrible experience.
- If you’re worried about anything, leave it in your home country – valuables are valuable, so why take them backpacking?
- Also, keep your stuff locked away in hostels/guesthouses – room theft is not uncommon. Not everywhere is trustworthy.
- Stay away from protests and demonstrations – these can get ugly. So even if you’re interested, we’d say keep clear.
- Don’t take archaeological artifacts out of Peru without authorization – who are you, Indiana Jones? Leave it there!
- Careful what you buy at markets – trinkets are nice, but trinkets can be made of illegal stuff like rare bird feathers and snake skins. Condor poaching, for example, is a huge problem.
- There may be times when you’re asked to pay a bribe by police – just be aware and judge the situation accordingly.
- If someone wants your money, give it to them – in the event of a mugging, just hand it over. Better safe than sorry.
- Public displays of affection could be frowned upon – especially between same-sex couples, unfortunately. It’s legal, but views are conservative.
- Be vigilant in the main coca growing regions – Shining Path insurgents are active. Steer well clear.
- Make sure all your vaccinations are up to date before traveling – no-brainer. Research and then get your jabs.
- Don’t trek by yourself – think you can spot every snake? Know if you’ve gone into insurgent territory? Know how to survive in the mountains or rainforest? Even if you still do, having a buddy is 10x better.
- Pick a good, well-reviewed tour agent – there are plenty of scammers and it’s not worth saving money on bad, potentially unsafe trips.
- Watch the news – politics can change, an earthquake might happen, a volcano might erupt, floods might be imminent; it’s best to know these things!
So Peru might not feel totally safe – there’s insurgent groups, drug traffickers, political protests, and quite a lot of crime directed towards tourists. The nature is pretty scary too! But that doesn’t mean you can’t be safe in Peru and protect yourself. All it takes to be secure is a little bit of good judgment, some research, some caution and general attention paid to what’s going on around you. Case closed.
Keeping your money safe in Peru
Protecting your cash is going to be a priority pretty much anywhere you travel, but especially in Peru. Tourist dollars aren’t just good for proper businesses here, it’s also a great way for pickpockets to make some money.
Of course, if you’ve got nothing on you in the first place, how can your pockets be picked? Answer: they can’t! And the best way to achieve that is simply to wear a money belt.
There is a load of options for keeping your money safe with a money belt. Many of these are worthy of your attention, but the Active Roots Security Belt is one we’d definitely recommend.
The Active Roots is rugged and affordable, two qualities that are very helpful. The best thing about it is that it actually just looks like a normal belt, which we love.
You might be in a crowded place and unable to watch your pockets as well as you’d wish, or someone might just lift something from your bag. Either way, you’d always have a handy stash o’ cash in your money belt. It’s basically something you should never travel without if you’re interested in not falling prey to petty theft.
If you need a little more room for your passport and other travel valuables, have a look at a full-size money belt that tucks under your clothes instead.
If neither of those options appeals to your refined fashion sense, don’t compromise! Opt for an infinity scarf with a hidden zipper pocket.
Traveling solo is definitely a different experience. Being alone means you can travel at your own pace, see things differently, meet a whole load of interesting people, and challenge yourself all at the same time.
You’ll be pleased to know that Peru is safe to travel alone and this way is actually quite popular. First of all, it’s super easy to meet other backpackers, especially if you’re traveling along the well-trodden routes on the ol’ Gringo Trail. So don’t worry, as long as you travel smart you’re going to love Peru!
- Meeting other backpackers is a definite plus! Lima, Pisco, Arequipa, Cusco – you’ll find ample opportunities at these places in the local hostels and meet some awesome people to travel with. Not only will this help you stay happy (solo traveling blues is real), but there’s genuine safety in numbers and it’ll be fun!
- Hitting up tourist hotspots might not be what you’re into (because you’re backpacking, right), but for meeting people, this is a pretty surefire way to go about it.
- Plan, plan, plan, and plan some more. If you’re worried about traveling by yourself, or the safety of anywhere you’re going, the best way to stay safe is to PLAN. Keep informed of other peoples’ trips through Peru, read blogs about backpacking Peru, read reviews of hostels, tour operators, bus companies – everything. This is a top tip for staying safe in Peru.
- Being open-minded is a good way to travel solo, albeit with an air of caution, of course. But being closed up and keeping yourself to yourself isn’t what solo travel is about. People are friendly in Peru, backpackers are friendly in Peru. Head to the local plaza to talk to locals, then back to your hostel for traveling buddies. You can’t trust EVERYONE, but being outgoing is going to make your trip better.
- That said, knowing some Spanish will open up the country to you. Definitely good if you’re lost, asking for directions, ordering food, or just saying hola to a friendly local. It goes down well.
- But be aware that if someone comes up to you out of the blue crazy friendly then they’re probably crazy for your dollar. Politely decline their invitations and say you gotta go somewhere.
- It’s important also to just be alert to what’s going on around you. Like, someone could suddenly fall over in front of you, or drop something, or try to give you something – chances are these sorts of things will involve a scam. Don’t have a heart of stone, of course, but you’ll probably be able to judge what’s a weird situation and what isn’t.
Generally, you’ll want to avoid looking like a tourist. Brand new sports jackets, expensive backpacks, having your phone out, looking puzzled at your surroundings… ‘fraid to say it, but you should travel with more caution in Peru. That and being open to meeting new people is probably going to make your trip not only safe but also one you’ll likely never forget!
Is Peru safe for solo female travelers?
Traveling solo is one thing, but traveling solo as a FEMALE is a whole other ball game. Unfortunately, there’s always going to be more to consider when you’re traveling alone as a woman.
However, Peru is pretty much safe for solo female travelers. That’s right! Women go to Peru and have EPIC adventures all the time! As long as you do your research, stay aware of your surroundings and take some precautions, everything will be fine.
It’s not always going to be easy, but as long as you travel smart you’ll surprise yourself at how INCREDIBLE a time you’ll have. You’ll feel more confident, meet amazing people, and get to do what the hell you want.
- Don’t walk around by yourself at night, especially in Lima. Around the world, women by themselves are targets – particularly at night. Just don’t do it.
- If you feel like someone’s following you, don’t stop walking. This will allow potential attackers to surround you. Keep walking until you can see tourist police or somebody that looks like they might be able to help.
- Seriously, get yourself a data plan sim. You’ll get maps, so you can plan your routes around town. You’ll be able to make regular calls to home, taxi services, and your accommodation. You will have access to Uber, Facebook, Twitter, Google Translate whatever. It’s always a good thing to let people know where you are in the world.
- On that note, if you’re heading out on a trek, or a long bus ride, or out for the night, put that data to good use and tell your family where you are. Tell your hostel too. Don’t go off the grid. Not cool.
- Stay at well-reviewed hostels in Peru. Make sure reviews mention it’s good for solo travelers and check to see if they have female-only dorms at that rate. Consider if the hostel is actually going to be nice as well – you’ll want somewhere to hang out for the day with all the traveling you’ll be doing. Remember that a hostel is basically just a genuinely great place to meet new people.
- Machismo is part of Peruvian culture. Street harassment in Peru does happen. Usually in the form of catcalling. Also, women in Peru don’t usually go out to bars, so just bear in mind that because you’re breaking the norms of Peruvian society you’ll get some attention from locals.
- When catcalling does happen, ignore it. Stare ahead, keep walking, let it bounce off you. Difficult, but reacting won’t do a thing.
- There are no set ‘rules’ on what to wear to not get attention, but generally the less revealing, the better.
- Think up ways to curb sexual advances. You’re “married,” for example.
- Be careful about giving out your information. Your number, where you’re staying, where you’re going… No matter how friendly they might seem, the risk is real.
- Stock up on sanitary products. Guess what? You won’t be able to find those out in the sticks. Condoms too, if you feel the need.
- Men wanting to marry ‘rich Westerners’ is a thing. Be aware that friendly advances for marriage might not be as honest as they seem (we’re serious)!
While there’s the very real issue of chauvinism, which can be intimidating at times, all-in-all Peru is still safe for solo female travelers. Peruvian society, in general, will be protective of females traveling by themselves. Plenty of women backpack through Peru without issue.
The key is to avoid sketchy areas and listen to your gut. If a situation doesn’t feel right, then it probably is a bit weird. Remove yourself! Making friends is always a plus too, and in general, we reckon you’re going to have an awesome time in Peru!
Is Peru safe to travel for families?
Peru is an amazing place to travel with children. That doesn’t mean it’s always going to be safe, but plenty of families DO make the trip to this fascinating country and love it.
That said, it’s probably a better place to visit with older children who can appreciate the historical sights. Trekking around in the mountains is going to be HARD on little legs, and even harder on you if you plan on carrying them. Take the Machu Picchu hike for example – it’s definitely worth the visit, however, it’ll require quite a bit of fitness.
To help limit stress and keep the whole family happy, consider the following tips, which are catered specifically for managing children.
- Peru can get hot! Exposure to the heat is going to be something you’ll have to consider.
- For those looking for an easier time, there are actually trains that go all the way to Machu Picchu, so you can bypass the hike completely. There’s a whole lot of adventure to be had here, and increasingly with less effort needed!
- Altitude sickness can be a mortal problem and it’s really NOT recommended to take children under 3 years of age to higher elevations. You need to treat altitude sickness seriously and make sure everybody is acclimatizing well.
- In the Peruvian jungle, yellow fever is a risk. Really small children, we’re talking under 9 months, shouldn’t travel here at all (since the yellow fever vaccine isn’t given until children are over this age).
- Malaria is also a danger, but you can take precautions against this.
- And as always: DON’T let your children pet any street dogs, or go near them, for that matter. This is NOT safe!
- Staying at an upmarket resort is usually safer and helps to limit a lot of the aforementioned problems.
If you’re here for adventure and you want your children to share it, then we’d say Peru is safe to travel for families. Ultimately, it’ll be safer and LESS stressful the older they are, maybe 7 years and upwards.
In Peruvian culture, family, and especially children, is very important. Needless to say, this is going to help you get to know locals all that much easier and make your time even more enjoyable in Peru.
Is it safe to drive in Peru?
Driving in Peru is not really what we’d call “safe.”
Road conditions are often poor. Most are unpaved and signage can be nonexistent. Whilst you CAN hire a car and use it in the main cities, the congestion can be pretty bad. The drivers can be EVEN WORSE.
Don’t even think about driving at night. Robberies, animals in the road, sheer drops – all reasons to never, ever drive after dark in Peru.
When the weather is bad in Peru, it’s really bad. The rainy season can cause landslides and flooding making roads completely inaccessible.
Don’t underestimate the size of this country either – Peru is pretty big. Distances between places are utterly massive.
Oh, and did we mention corrupt police stops? They happen, a lot.
So unless you’re literally hellbent on driving (the Pan-American Highway is pretty desirable) and you have some serious driving credentials, the short answer is: no. Driving in Peru is not safe. It’s just not worth it.
Is Uber safe in Peru?
Uber’s available in Lima. That’s it.
Uber in Peru is also very annoying. Drivers are known to search for the ‘highest bidder’ so even if you confirm the ride, you can be left waiting for a driver that won’t turn up. That isn’t exactly safe, especially at night.
They’re often more expensive than taxis and the cars they use are pretty shabby too. The air-con probably “doesn’t work” but the driver probably just doesn’t want to waste the extra gas. Better choices would be alternative rideshares apps like Cabify.
Plenty of Peruvians do use Uber, but there is a whole army of taxis waiting for your business.
Are taxis safe in Peru?
Usual taxi shenanigans are par for the course in Peru.
Firstly. What does a real taxi look like? All REAL taxis in Peru have a taxi sign on top of the car. To be on the safe side, look at the license plate too. It should be all white with a yellow bar on the top. This means it’s been recently registered.
If the driver looks sketchy, we’d recommend listening to your gut. It might feel BAD to be so judgemental, but this might literally save you from a BAD situation. The driver should also have an ID that’s clearly visible.
Before you even get in the taxi, agree on a price. Haggling is ok, so if you feel like you can save money (or you’ve done research on what the price should be), go for it. Whatever you do, make sure you both agree.
Check what route the driver is taking. It’s well known for the driver to go round the houses in order to hike the meter up.
Sit behind the driver. This means that, if the driver for whatever reason has bad intentions, will find it harder to grab you. Yes, grab you.
When you get in, always lock the doors. Would-be thieves sometimes walk up and down traffic testing door handles. Once they find one that’s open – bingo. They surprise you, grab your stuff and scarper.
If you want to be extra safe, get your hotel or hostel to order you a taxi. This is more expensive, but less hassle than hailing one yourself.
In conclusion, taxis in Peru are safe so long as you take the necessary precautions. While you’ll certainly be safer than just walking on the road, you still need to be wary.
Is public transportation in Peru safe?
City buses are the main mode of public transport for most urban locals. These are cheap and usually good quality, but they can also get crowded, not to mention delayed thanks to things like floods.
There are also many, many long-distance buses and a huge selection of bus companies to choose from. Make sure to do your research on these – seriously – as accidents happen often. In 2018 alone there have been several fatal crashes and, in particular, the mountain roads in Peru can be super dangerous.
We wouldn’t say that buses in Peru are safe, exactly, as some statistics may prove otherwise. The UK government even issues a warning: “where possible avoid overnight travel, especially in mountainous and remote regions.” Sometimes, however, bus travel is unavoidable if you want to get where you’re going.
As we said, RESEARCH. Crashes happen much less often where the bigger, more expensive companies are concerned. These include Cruz del Sur, Ormeno and Oltursa. Don’t pay less for less safety!
When it comes to your luggage, don’t use the overhead compartments. Always put them in the proper storage under the bus.
There are also trains in Peru. These follow high altitude tracks and are pretty cool.
The main routes are Cusco to Machu Picchu, Cusco to Puno, and in the north, Lima to Huancayo. The scenery on these train trips is AMAZING. If you like your trains, then you’re going to want to do these trips. There are loads of train companies to choose from.
Again though, train crashes HAVE happened. One occurred this year (2018) when protesters on the tracks stopped one train, causing another to slam into it. It wasn’t fatal, but still not so good.
In the end, we’d say that, while not perfect, trains are safe in Peru though; at least safer than the buses.
Is the food in Peru safe?
A colorful array of ingredients, especially in the markets, makes Peruvian food a wonder to behold. But it doesn’t just LOOK good, it TASTES good! Corn, chicken, potatoes, avocados, sugarcane and whole a whole lot of garlic and chili. Vibrant and flavourful, food in Peru is amazing.
It’s the result of a true melting pot of cultures, from indigenous Inca and Creole to European (German, Italian and Spanish) cuisines – even Chinese and Japanese tradition make an appearance. But you’ll need to be careful if you don’t want to get ill.
- Basically, eating street food puts you at greater risk of getting sick. You will be missing out if you don’t try it, of course, so we’d recommend going where a lot of people seem to be eating. Popular = tasty and safe. Why would people go back if they got ill?
- Make sure you don’t eat things that look like they’ve been sitting around in the sun all day. Probably old, probably not tasty, probably will make you ill.
- If you do opt for street food, make sure what you’re eating is hot and cooked through. Pretty much a no-brainer, but having food cooked properly is going to better for you than stuff that hasn’t been. Freshly cooked, always.
- Don’t eat things that have been washed in water. Water is another issue (see below), but basically, it’s not clean. Peel the fruit yourself, boil any vegetables. Case closed.
- Because of that water issue – avoid ice cubes in drinks.
- If you want to try ceviche, a classic Peruvian dish, be aware that it’s got uncooked fish in it. Best to eat this one at a hotel, or at a restaurant, and preferably one of those that are by the sea. Fresh is best.
- If you REALLY must try that poor roasted guinea pig (cuy), pay more money for it. Cuy requires extra love and can be easily ruined. Less of a safety tip than a word to the wise.
- Oh and wash your hands. Seriously! These could be harboring all sorts of germs.
- Traveling with an allergy? Research ahead of time how to explain your allergy. Keep in mind that store owners and restaurant staff might not know all the foods that contain allergens, so it’s helpful to know the names of some of these too. If you’re gluten-free, pick up a handy Gluten-Free Translation Card with descriptions of Celiac disease, cross-contamination risk, and local Peruvian ingredients in Latin American Spanish.
Whilst food in Peru isn’t 100% safe, following our sanitation tips will greatly reduce the chances of becoming ill yourself. Seriously though, the food here is so good and it would be a shame to miss out. So eat your way (sensibly) around the culinary treats of Peru and be mindful of how your stomach is doing.
Can you drink the water in Peru?
Nope. Don’t drink it. No ice cubes, no nothing. The safest bet is always to get bottled water.
However, you can boil water to purify it – a couple of minutes will suffice. Take note that, due to atmospheric pressure, water takes longer to boil at higher altitudes. If you need to save fuel while trekking in the wilderness, try investing in a Grayl Geopress – these little tools are very effective and are even used in hospitals.
There are more handy little items that you should have on your Peru packing list. The following is one of them.
While hiking, you’ll definitely need a good, rugged water bottle as well (hydration is key in the mountains). We like the Active Roots insulated bottle because it can take a beating and keep our water nice and cold.
Is Peru safe to live?
Yes, it’s safe to live in Peru, and indeed, loads of backpackers and budding professionals teach English in Peru. If you love the landscapes, the food, the people, then it’s probably going to be a dreamy destination for you.
Pollution in the cities is really bad. Politicians are corrupt. Jobs are not well paid. There are high levels of petty crime (mainly theft).
It’s important to be aware that you’ll often be seen as a gringo, that is, rich. Being targeted for scams and being lightly extorted on a daily basis might become the norm for you.
Learning Spanish is really going to help. Not doing so puts you at a disadvantage.
Then there’s the weather, which, depending on where you live, is often extreme. Lima is generally ok, but anywhere in the mountains or the Amazon Basin is going to suffer when heavy rain falls. That means landslides and flooding.
Being aware that you’re in an earthquake zone and knowing what to do in a disaster situation will at least give you peace of mind, too. Obviously will help to keep you safe as well!
Before moving to the country, you’ll want to do some hefty research, join some expat Facebook groups, ask questions, and book a trip to Peru if you haven’t actually been. Do these and you should have a better idea on where/what you’ll want to do. At the end of the day, it’s safe to live in Peru but it won’t be easy.
How is healthcare in Peru?
There is a big gap between public and private healthcare in Peru. The World Health Organisation has ranked Peru as having one of the most underfunded healthcare systems in the world. Long waiting times, a lack of services in rural areas, and generally ill-equipped facilities means most who can afford it opt for private.
In big cities such as Lima, there are medical clinics available round the clock with English-speaking staff. Doctors usually require CASH upfront before they do any procedure on a foreign visitor even if they have insurance.
If you injure yourself or get sick somewhere remote – and trust us, there are A LOT of remote places in this geographically diverse country – you’ll need emergency medical evacuation. This can very expensive.
Don’t even think of going to Peru without medical insurance! It’s really, really important.
A lot of travel insurance companies will cover emergency evacuations and situations.
That said, for minor ailments and tummy grumbles, you can head to a pharmacy (found in both cities and towns). The pharmacist can help you out, plus you can buy more medicines over the counter (i.e. without a prescription) here than in the UK, for instance.
Helpful Peru Travel Phrases
I cannot stress how important a basic knowledge of Spanish is while backpacking Peru. It saves you time, energy and money. If you know basic Spanish, you really get much more out of your experience backpacking Peru.
Here are a few useful phrases in Spanish for your backpacking Peru adventure:
Final thoughts on the safety of Peru
Peru wasn’t always going to be the SAFEST place to visit. There’s basically a smorgasbord of concerns that you’re going to have to address before you go, and not without reason. Bus rides can be fatal here, petty theft IS high, scams DO happen, and border areas and coca growing regions are still hotbeds for insurgents and drug traffickers. That’s without mentioning the natural elements at all!
In reality, the aforementioned issues are rarer than most think. Peru is still safe to travel to and the most unsafe thing you’re most likely to encounter here is a bout of food poisoning. Pickpockets, upset stomachs, diseases; all of these things can be avoided. Keeping in the know about the political situation, the weather, doing your research on good places to stay and even better travel companies to use will put you in good stead to have a safe trip.
The best way to stay safe in Peru is to simply travel smart. If you listened to us, then you will be able to dodge the shay taxi drivers, the thieves, the gang violence, the political unrest, all of it. By covering your own back and having the proper security nets in place, you will be able to enjoy backpacking in Peru even more enjoyable. Just keep hydrated, don’t push yourself, meet good people, and have fun.
As we always like to remind people too: get travel insurance!
Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means we earn a small commission if you purchase your insurance through this page. This costs you nothing extra and helps us keep the site going.
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