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Travel Guide > South America > Peru

Peru Health & Safety

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Vaccinations and Prophylaxis

Vaccine requirement

The quantity and type of vaccines necessary to travel to Peru depend on several factors, like medical antecedents and locations included in the trip. The most habitual vaccines needed to travel to Peru are against tétanos, diphtheria, typhoid fever, hepatitis A and B, yellow fever (it is obligatory to present the certificate of vaccination against yellow fever to enter in some countries of Africa), rabies and meningitis.

Some of these vaccines require more than a dose or a major time to be effective. For that reason, there is recommendable to inquire on necessary vaccines with an advance of 6 to 8 weeks before your trip.

Hepatitis A Recommended for all travelers.

Typhoid fever Recommended for all travelers accination Center Perú   The government of Peru recommends the vaccine for all travelers who are going to visit forest areas (Amazonia) below 2300 meters (7546 ft). Travelers that only visit Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu do not need vaccine for yellow fever.

Vaccine for yellow fever is also required for all travelers who arrive from other countries infected with yellow fever in Africa and America.

In recent years, there has been reported yellow fever in Cusco (Concepcion 2007), San Martin, Loreto, Pasco, Amazonas, Ancash, Ayacucho, Huánuco, Junín, Madre de Dios, Puno and Ucayali.

Hepatitis B For Travelers who could have sexual relations with local people, specially if the visit is by more than 6 months.

Rabies For travelers who could have near contact with animals and have not get access to medical services.

Measles, Parotiditis, Rubella (SPR) If they have not been vaccinated before, two doses for all travelers are recommended.

Tétanos - diphtheria Recommended re-vaccination every 10 years. 

What to pack in Peru

It is recommendable to travel with a small medical kit (Traveler Kit) that includes some basic medicines like antacid, analgesic pills, NSAIDs and antihistamine drugs. Also it is necessary to take some dehydrated solutions for oral hydratation in case of severe diarrhea. Also, It must include first aid articles as sterile strips, antiseptics and bandages. Do not forget to put some antibiotic against severe diarrhea or dysentery and other infections, as well as sterilized needles (because they are difficult to find in some isolated zones).

Finally, you must put into your luggage scissors, clamps, a thermometer, lip balm, a suntan lotion, purifying water tablets and cleanliness equipment. If you use contact lenses or glasses, take an extra pair. You must also carry a small flashlight and a Swiss Army knife.

The Traveler Kit must be prepared by your physician according to your health and destination.


Malaria is a disease that can be fatal and is transmitted by mosquitoes. This mosquito specially pricks by night. If you are going to travel to Peru, it is very important to know what areas present a high prevalence of malaria.

The prevention of the disease is made through a medication against the malaria (prophylaxis) and the protection against the punctures of insects.

There are many antimalarial medicines. The optimal choice depends on the characteristics of the trip and the traveler. So, it is important to have some medical advice about the advantages and disadvantages of each medication.

The more effective drugs are:

MEFLOQUINE (LARIAM): very extended use. Side effects include visions, and more serious neurological reactions. Those people with psychiatric and neurological problems must not take this medication.

DOXYCYCLINE: Side effects include cutaneous reactions by contact with the sun or the risk of fungal vaginitis in the women.

MALARONE: highly effective, few side effects, expensive and difficult to obtain in Peru, only in specialized Travel Medicine CenterTravel Medicine Peru

CHLOROQUINE: low risk of side effects and the most useful until years ago. Nowadays, they only have 50/60% of effectiveness for malaria in Peru (specially for the south zone where malaria falciparum has not been reported).

Whatever your choice you need to take antimalarial medicine if you are going to travel to a zone affected by the disease, and continue with the medication beyond your return. The risk of malaria, or any other disease in Peru, is much greater for a tourist than for local people. Do not suspend your medication before the indicated period.

In Peru there is no risk of malaria in the big cities. No risk in Lima and surrounding areas or in areas above the 1500 meters.

There is a risk: On the coast north of the country (Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque).

In the Amazon region: Loreto department (Iquitos) with 97% of cases of falciparum country, San Martin, Ucayali, Just as Amazon (chachapoyas), Cajamarca (Jaen).It was also reported cases of vivax malaria (falciparum not) in Cuzco Department (Province of Concepción away from the tourist area of Machu Picchu) and Madre de Dios.

It is recommended that: The precautions to protect themselves from being bitten by mosquitoes are essential especially in the evening and night (especially when visiting rural or peripheral).

Use a repellent (on exposed skin) containing DEET (N, N-diethylmetatoluamide to 30% -50% are effective for several hours) or Picaridina (7-15%).

Basic cares about hygiene and food

It is difficult to guarantee the security of food and drink, specially in developing countries. Nevertheless you may continue enjoying local meals, this is part of the pleasures of an international trip. Be selective. The diseases that you could get go from a small diarrhea or dysentery, to one more serious disease (eg. Parasitic infection) that could ruin your trip. Therefore you should take certain precautions:

Try to eat only cooked foods

Avoid buffet or any other food that has been reheated and exposed to the contact with flies

Avoid seafood in unknown places

Crude fruits and vegetables are very difficult to sterilize: do not eat them unless you have the security that they have been washed in drinkable water or if they are possible to peel without touching the pulp. In the tropic the safest fruits are bananas and papayas.

Be careful, you could reject any food you consider not safe, if it is necessary, ask for cooked food specially for you. Do not eat any food that offers few guarantees to you.

Precautions about of the water

Drink water only when you have the certainty that it is safe. Do not drink water from the faucet or wash your teeth with it.

Always use mineral water and check the bottles to make sure that it has not been opened yet and filled up (to avoid this, you can drink gasified mineral water).In restaurants, you should request to open the bottle in your presence and never take ice in your drinks (the ice cubes often are made with water from the faucet). And remember, alcohol does not make drinkable the water!

Water from the faucet is made drinkable by boiling it during 5 minutes, or with chlorine or iodine drops or with special tablets/drops for it.

Punctures of insects

Avoid punctures of insects reduces the risk of contracting diseases transmitted by mosquitos like the yellow fever, dengue, leishmaniosis and, by all means, malaria, in 90%.

By night you should use long sleeves, long trousers, long socks and pijamas to sleep. Always use clear colors, since they attract, in less extent than dark colors, to the mosquitos. Use Insect Repellent that contains DEET. Directly apply it on your skin and clothes. Use a mosquito sleeping net impregnated of repellent, as well as other anti-mosquitos stuff in your room (spirals or electrical mosquito repellents). Use them all the nights.


In Peru there have been reported cases of rabies in animals even in small zoo parks, so you should avoid to touch or to play with any type of animal. Rabies is not only transmitted through biting, but also by scratches and licks.

In case of wound, it is necessary to clean it with an antiseptic lotion. If the wound is deep it is recommendable to examine it by a doctor. Take some advice about antirabic vaccines before starting off, mainly if your trip is long.

Heat and sun

Do not expect to become quickly aclimated to the heat (specially in Amazonia). It will take at least 3 weeks to obtain it.

During this period, avoid physical fatigue, use fresh clothes, mainly during the warmest hours of the day. Avoid direct exhibition to the sun.Use a solar cream and a hat.

Thirst is a very poor indicator of the amount of water that human needs. It is very important to take a sufficient amount from liquid (not alcohol, coffee or tea, because they are diuretics and causes a greater loss of water). The best probe that you are well hydrated is when your body produces clear abundant urine.

AIDS and other diseases

As in any another country, please take the necessary precautions to avoid HIV infection and other sexual diseases.

Accidents and injuries

Accidents and injuries produce more deaths of travellers than diseases.

Please be in constant alert.

Do not drive in bad illuminated streets by night

Do not drive a bicycle or a moto

Do not drive in a drunk condition and moderate your speed.

If you take a taxi, ask the driver to go slowly. Use the security belt and, if you travel with children, use an adaptable chair

Take a small medicinal kit: small wounds can become infected very easily. If the wound is deep it is recommendable to examine it by a doctor.

Back to homeIf you have contracted malaria or another tropical disease, it is possible that the symptoms do not become evident until much after your return to home and you may not even associate them to your trip. Visit your physician and remember to tell him about your trip to Peru.


Common medicines, like antibiotics, can be bought in pharmacies (farmacias or boticas) quite cheaply and without restrictions. However, make sure the expiration date has not been reached. Pharmacists are mostly very helpful and can be consulted if needed.

For less serious illnesses, they may replace a doctor.


Electrolytic drinks help guard against dehydration. You can get powders to dissolve in water in almost every pharmacy. If not, just dissolve sugar and salt in water. Bacterial diarrhea can be treated with antibiotics, if it doesn't vanish during a week. Usually, pharmacies are quite helpful.

Food and drink

If you stay in good hotels you may be able to avoid catching diarrhea, otherwise you might. Just don't worry too much about. There are some rules that could avoid the worst:

  • Avoid unboiled tap water, if possible. This can be difficult; If you eat a salad or drink some fruit juice, it will probably be prepared with tap water. Avoid ice in drinks if you can.
  • If you must drink tap water, use some purification like mikropur.
  • Don't eat food prepared in the street (if you can resist it).
  • When going to cheap restaurants, first have a smell and listen to what your nose says.
  • In some areas, refrigerators are rare. Just go to the meat section of a typical market hall and take a smell, you will understand. If you would rather eat vegetarian food, it can be hard to find. Chicken is worth a try, since they are mostly fresh.
  • Don't eat unpasteurized milk products.


If you do not have experience with higher altitudes above 3,500m (12,000 ft), don't underestimate it! Collapses of unacclimatized tourists are not unusual. If coming from sea level, stay at medium height ca. 3000m (10,000 ft) for at least one week. Then, altitudes of around 4500m (15,000 ft) should not be a risk, although you still will strongly feel the height.


Since Peru is close to the equator, the sun can become dangerous for your skin and eyes. Especially in the Sierra, the strong UV radiation due to the height in combination with the rather cold air may burn your skin before you notice it. Sun-blockers are easy to get in drug stores (boticas). If your eyes are sensitive to light, better bring good sunglasses from home. Of course, you can buy sunglasses in Peru, too, but you should really be sure that they block the whole UV spectrum, otherwise, they might be worse than none.

Sanitary facilities

Outside of obviously well-set up restaurants and hotels in cities and towns, toilets are often quite primitive and sometimes really dirty. It's a good idea to bring your own paper with you,as peruvian toilet paper maybe too rough as well as being one ply. It's usual. Toilet doors are marked with "baño", "S.H." or "SS.HH.". The latter two are abbreviations for servicio higienico, which is the rather formal expression. Expect to pay no more than 20 centimos at public restrooms for paper. You will find it handy to keep a roll of toilet paper and a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your backpack.

In hostels or budget hotels, you cannot rely on having water all the time. In the Andean region, it also can easily happen that showers have more or less hot water only in the afternoon since the water is heated by solar energy only. Electrically heated showers are widely spread, but the electric installation is sometimes really adventurous, since the water heater is mostly situated at the shower head. Have a look on it before turning on the shower, especially if you are tall enough that you could touch the cables or other metal during showering which can electrocute you. Don't be too paranoid though, an electric shock is mostly painful.

As woman, if you use tampons during your period, you should bring them with you from home, because they are not very popular in Peru. In Lima, you'll be able to find them in supermarket chains like Santa Isabel or Wong or at drug stores / chemists, known as farmacias and boticas. When you find them, buy enough for the rest of the trip, they are virtually unknown in the rest of the country. Alternatively you could pack a menstrual cup because they are reuseable and compact.


In Lima ring 105. In Lima and some of the larger cities there is a sort of local police called "Serenazgo": you may ask for help but they have no tourist oriented services.


  • Be aware of your surroundings and try to avoid unlit or unpopulated areas especially at night. There is a lot of petty crime that can turn violent. Avoid groups of male youngsters since there are many small gangs trying to rob passerbys. If you witness a robbery be very careful before intervening, since robbers may be armed and are quite prone to shooting if they feel threatened.
  • Armed robberies of tourists are fairly common.
  • A dirty old backpack with valuable contents is safer than a new one with old clothes in it. It's often good not to look too rich.
  • Some travelers don't use wallets, but keep the bills and coins directly in their pocket. Let's say some little bills on the left side and the rest on the right side. Thus, the pickpocket's job gets much harder.
  • Don't walk around with debit- or creditcards in your pocket. Leave them in a safe place, when you do not directly need them, because tourists have been kidnapped and forced to take out money each day for a period of a few days.
  • If you want to take large amounts of cash out with you, a neck wallet is always a good idea - you can hide it under your shirt.
  • Watch out for false bills. Every bank has posters that explain what to check when getting higher valued bills. The only security element that has not been falsified is the bichrome 10,20,50,100 or 200 now also used on US$ bills. Don't be shy about checking any bills you receive. Most Peruvians do so, too. You may get false bills even at upscale places or (quite unusually, but it's been known to happen) banks, so check there too.
  • Ignore any requests to carry luggage or packages for strangers. There could be illegal items or drugs in there, and you are the one who'll be caught with them and have the problems afterwards.
  • Small quantities of drugs for personal use or possession (up to 2g for powdered cocaine or 8g for marijuana) are permitted by law (Section 299 of the Penal Code of Peru) PROVIDED THAT the user is in possession of only ONE type of drug. However, if you purchase drugs, know your source. It may be inadvisable to buy from strangers or street dealers.


REGARDING MARIJUANA in Peru: Possesion for personal consumption in the max amount of 8 grams is legal according to the Peruvian Penal Code article 299. What is considered illegal is the trafficking part, that is: buying, selling or having more than 8 grams. So be careful who you buy from and do not buy more than 8 grams per person. Peace out!

  • When taking a taxi, take a quick look in the backseat, and in the trunk, to make sure there is nobody hiding there. There've been reports of armed robberies/kidnappings taking place in taxis. Afterwards, tourists are blindfolded and driven outside the city and left behind by the highway.
  • At the border crossing from Ecuador (Huaquillas) to Peru people have tried to steal passports by acting like plainclothes police officers. They give you another form to fill in which is fake. This has taken place although police and customs personnel have been next to them.
  • When traveling on buses it is recommended to keep your backpack under your seat with the strap hooked around your leg.


  • Tourist police are dressed in white shirts, instead of the usual green ones, and normally speak English and are quite helpful to tourists. The common police officer does not speak other language but Spanish but normally will try to help. DO NOT get in an argument with police, since they may forget about your needs and feel insulted.

Dealing with the police can take a lot of time. In order to get a copy of a police report you need to go to a Banco de la Nación and pay 3 soles. Without this the police won't give you a copy, and obviously you can only arrange this during working days.


The terrorist group known as the Shining Path is gaining ground in the Upper Huallaga Valley. This group has been known to kill or kidnap police, military, and occasionally foreigners.


Check the address of your country's embassy or consulate before you go. If you're planning a lengthy stay it's also a good idea to register with your country's embassy.

Many of the aforementioned countries also have consulates in other major cities. See their websites for more details.

Finally, it's always a good idea to check your government's advice before you travel.

  • UK Foreign Office website (Travel Advice: Peru)
  • US Department of State (Consular Information Sheet: Peru)
  • Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Travel Advice for Peru)

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