This post was most recently updated on April 22nd, 2019
Simple guidelines for staying safe in Peru.
Peru is an amazingly diverse country with so many reasons to visit. It is also still a developing nation. For some people, this may lead them to believe that it can be much less safe than their own country. However, there is no reason why this should be the case. Staying safe in Peru is straightforward with the help of a few rules.
Preparations before you arrive
The US website of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has excellent information about vaccination requirements for those traveling in different areas of Peru. For people staying in large urban areas, the basic needs are not much different from the vaccinations they already have in their home country. However, in more remote areas and for those traveling to the jungle, other vaccines and malaria medicine may be required.
Registering with your travel plans
Some countries allow you to register your travel plans online. Registering helps government agencies contact you in the event of an emergency. Australians can register with smartraveller.gov.uk and US citizens with step.state.gov
Whenever you travel from your home country to another, it is always sensible to take out travel insurance. This insurance should cover both your belongings and medical requirements. At The Medical Elective Network, we include travel insurance for all program participants.
Staying Safe in Peru
At Lima Airport passport control visitors are provided with a free tourist visa following completion of a short form. You should specify an accommodation address in Peru on this form.
Lima Airport is a modern airport with restaurants remaining open 24 hours. If you do travel to Lima from the airport, then it is best to book a taxi rather than haggling with taxi drivers at the airport. Uber Taxi operates in Lima. Another alternative is taxidatum.com who are a small local company providing a reliable and reasonably priced service.
Traveling within Peru
An essential part of staying safe in Peru is traveling safely in Peru.
The Airlines in Peru operating between major cities all have excellent safety records and offer good service.
Peru is a geographically large country, and most Peruvians do still travel by bus between cities. Services vary between excellent and very poor. Quality bus companies offer services that can include waiter/waitress service, individual passenger TV screens, snack and seats reclining 180% into a bed. Buses are not expensive, and we recommend that you do choose a high-quality service.
Taxis are essential and a relatively inexpensive way to travel around most cities. While nearly all are honest, it is necessary to take care when choosing a taxi in Peru. Be sure that is it clearly marked as a taxi with signage on the sides and roof. Taxis also have a small yellow strip above their front and rear number plate.
Once you are satisfied that it is a regular taxi always agree on the fare before getting into the vehicle to ensure there are no surprises at the end of the journey.
For extra security, you can now use online taxi services. Uber Taxi is available in Lima, and Easy Taxi is available in most large cities
Another important part of staying safe in Peru or anywhere else is avoiding crime. As a visitor, your main concerns are sneak thieves and street robberies. As a foreigner, you will not be targeted as a victim. Most crime in large cities is opportunistic. Thieves will look out for valuables on show or unguarded bags. Therefore it is vital to keep a close eye on your belongings when out and about.
Most travelers use debit or credit cards to withdraw money locally or use prepaid currency cards for accessing cash in Peru. It makes sense to bring two cards with you, should you lose one.
US dollars are accepted in supermarkets and some larger retail outlets. However, Peruvian Soles are accepted everywhere. You can find the best exchange rates at Casas de Cambio (Currency exchange shops) in most city centers. You should not exchange money on the street.
Study Abroad in Peru
Staying Safe in Peru should be pretty much assured by using working with a quality education organization. In our case, we put student safety at the top of our priorities. To ensure safety we:
- Only use a handful of homestay families all just a few minutes walk to our center.
- Provide cell phones for all participants.
- Are available 24 hours per day, and are never more than a few minutes away.
- Use our drivers to take participants to and from medical facilities each day
- Include travel insurance for all participants
- Provide airport pick up and drop off
These are all simple measure that all organizations should provide and you should expect from your organization.
Unfortunately whether traveling or staying in your home country, it is impossible to avoid problems 100% of the time. However, by following the simple guidelines above you should be able to prevent and, if necessary, be prepared for most events, no matter how unlikely.