Peru Travel Safety Recommendations
Peruvian flag (Photo: peru flag button image by Andrey Zyk from Fotolia.com )
Using common sense and seeking advice is key when it comes to travel safety. Uninformed travelers stand a much greater chance of ending up in a dangerous situation or losing their valuables. Tourists heading to Peru should know that while this South American country is a beautiful destination with lots to enjoy, it’s also a third-world country with a unique set of safety and security issues for travelers to be aware of.
Getting Around Town
The quickest way to get around cities and towns in Peru is by taxi. Most taxis are operated by individuals rather than reputable companies. While uncommon, you may be robbed by an unknown taxi driver and/or his accomplices if you take an unofficial cab ride. Avoid this risk by always taking officially licensed taxis recommended by hotel, airport or tourist office staff. You’ll encounter swarms of taxis waiting outside the main airport in the capital of Lima and near bus terminals around the country. Do not take these taxis. Instead, ask an employee with official identification to help you arrange a ride from a licensed operator you can trust. If you can’t avoid taking an unknown taxi, make a point of noting the registration number and concealing all valuables before you get in.
Long-Distance Bus Travel
Bus transportation is one of the primary methods of traveling between cities and towns in Peru. Avoid traveling at night, as many of the roads and highways in Peru are narrow and curvy which leads to a high rate of accidents. Hijacking is also more common at night along dark stretches of roads between towns. Schedule your trip so that you are traveling during daylight hours if possible. Try not to arrive in a new city or town at night, especially if you do not already have arrangements for a place to stay and direct transportation to the hotel. Keep valuables on your person at all times. Tuck backpack straps around your arms or feet, and check for your bags every time cargo is unloaded from the storage space below the bus. Things tend to go missing when you are careless or fail to pay close attention to your surroundings.
Money and Valuables
Never carry large sums of cash with you. Use a credit or debit card to withdraw the money you need at ATMs or banks. All cities and towns have ATMs and bank offices. Smaller villages and remote locations may not have these facilities, so plan in advance to take along the necessary currency. Make sure you have completely closed a transaction at an ATM after withdrawing money. Most ATMs are equipped with English on-screen prompts.
Keep your passport with you or leave it in a secure safe at your hotel. Print a copy of your passport to keep on your person at all times and another to store with your personal items in case the original passport is lost or stolen.
Avoid taking valuables with you when you travel. If you do take valuables, make an effort to be discreet. For instance, don’t talk loudly on your fancy cell phone or look at pictures on your digital camera while on a public bus or walking around town at night. Be aware of your surroundings when carrying a backpack or purse. Thieves sometimes snatch bags or cut holes in bags while the victim remains unaware. Staying alert is the easiest way to negate this threat.
Peruvian nightlife can be a blast but always put safety first. Never let a stranger buy you a drink. Purchase your own drinks and pay close attention to ensure no one slips anything into your glass. Tourists as well as locals have been drugged and robbed in Peru when accepting drinks from new acquaintances, so be careful.
Get back to your hotel or hostel safely. You should ask your hotel concierge for the number of an official taxi company that can be called to pick you up when you are ready to leave a disco or any other location around town. Travel in groups, and avoid drinking to the point of intoxication in order to keep your wits about you.
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