How to Travel Safely Around Peru

Peru has been a popular tourist destination, but has not always enjoyed a reputation for safe travel. However, Peru has become a safer place to visit. These days, more and more adventurous travelers are enjoying the diverse cultures, ancient civilizations, and fascinating jungles of Peru. This article explains the best way to travel through Peru while minimizing potential risks.

Steps

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    Prepare yourself for entering into a land where over 90% of the population speaks only Spanish. Basic Spanish classes are recommended for a full, more confident experience in Peru. Travelers can get by without Spanish while within their tour groups, but one does miss a lot of the overall experience. Learning Spanish in groups or as a family can be really fun, and putting it into practice in Spanish-speaking countries can be really satisfying.
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    Research the destinations in Peru that you plan to see. The most popular destinations are Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca (Puno), Nasca and the adventure-filled jungles. All these places have well established tourist circuits, and it is advisable to stick to these for easier and safer travel.
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    Lower costs, by booking your hotels and tours early. You can travel to Peru all year round. However, Peru’s busiest tourist periods are during the dry season which runs from May to November.
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    Prepare in advance. Peru is a third-world nation. It's essential to be well prepared. Consult with your physician three months in advance and receive all relevant inoculations, some of which may be administered over an interval of weeks or months. If you are just traveling to Lima, you will probably not need yellow fever or malaria medications. The risk of disease is higher in rural areas, however.
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    Watch what you eat. It is very common for tourists to get food poisoning in Peru, as hygiene education is somewhat lacking there. Stay away from cheap restaurants and food carts.
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    Peru has a number of low-income, high-crime areas. Therefore, try not to display any signs of wealth. Don't carry a lot of cash. Be on the alert for bogus taxis. Use only registered cabs. The tourist board recommends that you never sit in the front seat of a taxi. Sit in the back seat directly behind the driver.
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    If you're taking kids along, pay a little more for quality. Book your family into three-star accommodations or better. Anything less is likely to cater to the fast-paced, noisy, backpacker crowd.
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    Stick to the main tourist sections of the cities. For example, in Lima stay near the safe and well policed area of Miraflores. In Cusco keep your family in the center around the Main Square where it's relatively safe. Wherever you are, be aware of your kids' whereabouts.
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    Visit Cusco. This is one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites and the historic capital of the Inca Empire.
    • If you're going to Cusco, be prepared for the high altitude, approximately 3300 m (10800 ft). The air is extremely dry, and you may experience dryness of the nose and lips. It is recommended that you drink at least 2 liters (0.5 US gal) of water a day and use lip balm.
      • The high altitude can also give you mild headaches, because your brain actually expands a little due to the lower atmospheric pressure. Don’t over-exert yourself, and drink lots of water until you adjust.
      • It is recommended that upon arrival in Cusco you allow yourself a relaxing first day. This will allow you to adjust to the sudden atmospheric changes.

Tips

  • Lima taxi drivers and Peruvian businessmen in general will often try to charge tourists twice the usual rate for their goods and services. (They call it the "Gringo Tax".) Be ready to haggle.
  • Everyone accepts Soles or US Dollars. They're happier with Soles, however.
  • Pack lightly. Traveling in Peru often involves long journeys. Kids get tired, and you may end up carrying a lot of their bags! Bring small, disposable, non-valuable items to keep kids entertained while traveling long distances on coaches.
  • Enjoy the abundance of cheap, fresh fruit and vegetables in Peru. They are amazingly good!

Things You'll Need

  • Travel Towel
  • Lip Balm
  • Sun Cream
  • Breathable clothing
  • Light-weight, breathable coats
  • Soles or Dollars

Article Info

Categories: South America