Travel Insurance for Peru
Last updated on 11/05/2019
Do I Need Travel Insurance for Peru?
Peru is not only home to Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, but also a rich history and diverse culture. These are some of the many reasons it's one of the most popular destinations amongst world travelers. The country is also a favorite destination for our customers, and many contact us wondering whether travel insurance is required for Peru trips. While purchasing travel protection is not mandatory, there are several reasons travelers should consider buying coverage. The most common reason our customers purchase coverage is to supplement or replace their health insurance while overseas. Many domestic health insurance companies do not provide coverage abroad. In these situations, people visiting Peru can buy travel health plans to protect themselves and their traveling companions from large out-of-pocket expenses due to unforeseen injury or illness.
Although health concerns are the primary reason people purchase trip insurance for Peru, there are other reasons travelers should also consider. For example, many people take a cruise or international flight to get there. In these cases, cruise coverage or flight protection can be great options. Anyone who has flown or taken a cruise before knows that unforeseen issues can arise, which can delay, interrupt, or even derail your trip entirely. If you have concerns about missed connections or travel delays, a comprehensive travel insurance plan may be the best option. Comprehensive plans offer more protection than other plans and often include coverages like luggage insurance, emergency evacuation, or dental care while abroad. Savvy travelers will consider what coverages are most important to them before deciding on the best plan for their Peru trip.
How Much is Travel Insurance to Peru?
Travelers often want to know how much travel insurance will cost, but the answer is that plan cost varies based on several factors. For example, the number of travelers in your party and their ages will influence the cost of the plan. In general, older travelers carry more risk due to health concerns which usually translates to increased cost, especially in cases where those travelers have pre-existing conditions. A similar concept applies to the length of the trip. If your vacation or business trip is one week long, the risk is much lower than if you were planning a six-month excursion. Of course, the most significant factor in determining plan cost is the type of coverage the plan includes. The more coverages a plan offers, the higher the final price usually is.
Do I Need a Passport for Peru?
A passport with six months of validity and a blank page for an entry stamp is required at the time of entry. There are some exceptions for citizens of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Citizens of these countries may enter Peru with a valid national identification document.
Do I Need a Visa for Peru?
Peru is different from many countries in that it does not require a tourist visa to enter for citizens of most North and South American as well as Western European countries. However, travelers will need a tourist visa if they are a resident of any of the following Central American countries: Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. Tourist visas are issued for up to 183 days, and as of 2008 can no longer be extended once the tourist has entered. As a result, it's important that visitors choose the proper length for your trip at the time of entry. Peruvian law also dictates that foreign visitors must be able to furnish a return ticket upon entering. Likewise, tourists will not be able to leave the country if they cannot prove entry, so be sure to report lost or stolen passports to authorities right away. For trips with durations lasting more than 183 days or trips made for business, study, or work purposes, travelers must apply for the proper visa at a Peruvian consulate.
Peru Travel Tips & Safety
Money & Currency Exchange
The official currency of Peru is the nuevo sol. Nuevo soles are abbreviated as S/. and banknotes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 soles. Coins are issued in 10, 20 and 50 céntimos as well as 1, 2 and 5 nuevos soles. While an increasing number of businesses, including restaurants, hotels, shops, and gas stations, accept US dollars, more remote areas of Peru aren't as likely to do so. For this reason, it's a good idea to find out what options you'll have for exchanging currency when you arrive. Banks and currency exchange agencies are the most reputable options and are usually open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, Monday–Friday. Some are also open half days on Saturdays. "Cambistas," or street currency exchangers, might seem convenient but tourists should be cautious since the safety of the transaction may not be guaranteed. Highly populated areas, including most cities, have ATMs that allow tourists to withdraw nuevos soles or US dollars. The exchange rates may not be as favorable at the ATMs, so be sure to evaluate all your options and fees before making a decision. Also, make sure to alert your bank of your travels before you go to avoid any surprises or frozen funds.
Carrying large amounts of cash is not advisable, especially in areas where pickpockets are prone to targeting tourists. Consider a money belt to keep your money and important travel documents less accessible to thieves.
Tipping is not a common practice in Peru, but there are some exceptions. These include waiters at upscale restaurants, staff at high-class hotels, and tour guides. It's not typical to tip taxi drivers or staff at smaller restaurants and establishments. However, if the service is great tips are appreciated.
Haggling, like many countries, is part of the shopping culture in Peru. This is especially true if items are unlabeled or do not have price tags. Goods sold at traditional markets and even taxi fares are ripe for haggling partly due to the fact that prices are frequently inflated for tourists. Don't be afraid to negotiate for fair prices where it's reasonable, but keep in mind that local business owners and artisans are also trying to make a living so use your best judgment.
Peru features a variety of transportation options, including buses, trains, airlines, ferries, taxis, and rental cars. The mode of transport you choose will depend on where you plan to travel.
One of the most popular options amongst tourists and Peruvians alike is bus service. Depots are found throughout most town centers and feature surprisingly reliable schedules. Just be sure to pay attention to where the bus departs from and make a note of the name and logo, so you can spot your bus when it arrives. Otherwise, you might miss it. Bus routes run up and down Peru's coastline as well as up to popular remote destinations, like Machu Picchu. If you're traveling with small children or elderly parents, consider taking a bus rather than hiking the Inca Trail. The hike is hard enough without the challenge of high altitude, so planning around your traveling companions is imperative.
Railways are another option for travel in Peru. Both the Tren de la Sierra (Central Railway) and the Ferrocarriles del Sur del Peru (Southern Railway) traverse the Andes, which is quite an impressive engineering feat. Although trains can offer some very spectacular views, travel is typically slow and can be a bit rough. If you plan to take either train option, you may want to spring for first-class tickets. This way you'll get the best views, and you won't have to worry as much about petty theft or discomfort on the ride. Like the bus service, you get what you pay for when it comes to trains.
Traveling over land, especially through parts of the Peruvian Amazon, can be taxing and time-consuming, so some tourists opt for domestic flights instead. While the cost is higher, the time saved traveling may well be worth the added expense. As with any mountainous region, flights may be affected by the weather. Delays and rescheduling are simply part of the flying in these areas, so it's a good idea to keep an eye on the weather and make sure your flights are still on schedule. If you have a fear of flying, small charter planes may not be as appealing. However, taking to the skies offers breath-taking views you just don't get from travel by train or bus. If you do plan to fly, make sure to book with a reputable airline as some airlines have poorly maintained planes or overwork their pilots. Some mainstays in the Peruvian airline industry include: Taca, Star Peru, LAN Peru, and Peruvian Airlines.
Traveling by boat is also an option depending on where you're headed. If you plan to travel in the northern region of Peru, guided tours or motorized canoe operators offer a run experience. Lake Titicaca is another popular destination where water travel is a great choice. Tourists have several options to choose from, so the various islands in Lake Titicaca are quite accessible.
Rental Cars & Taxis
While renting a car is an option, the poor condition of some roads and unpredictable drivers likely negate the allure for most visitors. Security and anti-narcotic checkpoints are common, which can be hard to navigate without a guide or at least a good handle on the Spanish language. Thieves are also known to target rental cars and even car hire services, especially after dark. If you do choose to rent a car, know what you're getting into and do your research in advance. If you plan to hire a cab, call a reputable service and order it rather than hailing it on the street. This will help minimize the risk of scams and theft.
As the oldest civilization in South America, Peruvians are proud of their culture and history. Their Andean origins have given rise to a diverse population that has a wide range of traditions and customs. Tourists should be respectful of local culture and make a point to learn about the country's roots. Although you may want to take photos to document your trip, avoid being intrusive to get that "perfect shot." It's best to ask locals before taking their photo. Peruvians are warm and welcoming people, but it's important to respect personal boundaries.
Like many countries in South America, Catholicism is the most practiced religion in Peru. Religion is very important to the nation's people, but it does co-exist along with other belief systems. Tourists should be respectful at religious sites and avoid openly criticizing religion or the government. In general, visitors to Peru should keep an open mind and an open heart. The country's art, music, food, and celebrations are the foundations upon which Peru was built, so take a moment to experience them for yourself.
Speaking the Language
Although Peru is a multilingual country, the official language is Spanish. Spanish is spoken by over 85% of Peru's population and is the most common among the government. There are several dialects of Spanish, including Peruvian, Andean, and Amazonic, so the language can vary depending on where you visit. Despite this, learning some basic Spanish words and phrases will certainly help when it comes to communicating with the locals. In some areas, indigenous languages like Quechua, Aymara, and Urarina are more widely spoken and may even have co-official status with Spanish. It's unlikely that most travelers will master these languages before visiting Peru, which is why tour guides can be a great asset to your trip.
Crime Risk & Traveler Safety
Like any country, Peru has some safety risks travelers should be aware of. For the most part, pickpockets and scam artists pose the biggest threat to tourists. It's imperative to exercise caution and stay vigilant when visiting tourist hotspots or taking public transit. As mentioned earlier, do not carry large amounts of cash or valuables on your person. For the cash you do keep with you, make sure it is distributed a few different places so not all is lost in the event of theft. When accessing ATMs, be aware of your surroundings and identify any shady characters milling nearby.
Weather can be unpredictable in Peru, even during the rainy season. Downpours and flooding sometimes result in mudslides, so keep that in mind as you tour the country. Savvy travelers will also want to bring proper rain gear, so they are prepared for sudden changes in the weather. Similarly, you might expect to rain but then be met with a bright sunny day. For this reason, it's wise to make sure you bring bug spray and sunscreen. This is especially true for Machu Picchu and other remote destinations as these items are not always readily available for purchase.
Water is an important consideration to make when planning your trip to Peru. Not only do you need to make sure to drink plenty of water at all times to avoid dehydration (especially for those hiking the Inca Trail), but also tap water is generally not safe for consumption. The CDC recommends boiling water for at least a minute and up to three minutes for higher altitudes. Additional options include using iodine or water-purification tablets, a water filter, or a Steripen. Some infectious diseases are spread through Peru's tap water, so bottled water is another option if you're still concerned. Just be sure to thoroughly inspect the bottles for any signs of tampering before consuming as some vendors refill bottles from the local tap.
Altitude sickness is a concern for most travelers to Peru. Many travelers do not realize that Cusco has a higher elevation than Machu Picchu. If you're flying to Cusco, make sure to bring altitude sickness tablets. Some people experience just a mild headache while others are not so lucky, so planning ahead is crucial.
Popular Destinations & Tourist Attractions in Peru
Peru has some of the most diverse terrain in the world ranging from pristine sandy beaches to towering mountains to thick rainforests, so there is plenty for tourists to see and do. When planning your trip to Peru, you should not only consider the types of activities that interest you but also how far one destination is from the next. For example, if you plan to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Cuzco may provide a practical jumping off point. Travel to more remote areas of the country takes time and sometimes transportation options are limited, so a meticulously planned itinerary is your best bet. Take a look at our list of top destinations in Peru for inspiration.
Top 10 Travel Destinations in Peru
- Machu Picchu & The Inca Trail
- Nazca Lines
- The Sacred Valley of the Incas
- Lake Titicaca
- Puerto Maldonado & The Amazon
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article serves as a general overview of benefits and should only be used for informational purposes. Refer to your individual certificate of insurance for specific coverages, exclusions and benefits. When in doubt, please contact one of our licensed agents for additional assistance.