About Peru (PE)
Peru (PE) is situated on the western edge of South America with a long Pacific Ocean coastline and the Andes Mountain range running practically through the middle of country, giving way to the Amazon rainforest in the east.
One of the continent’s top tourist destinations, Peru has a vibrant diversity and wealth of cultural and natural attractions to satisfy the most demanding of world travelers. Visit ancient Inca ruins, sample unique Peruvian cuisine, go trekking through mountains and dense jungles, or simply chill out on one of myriad beach resorts that line the Pacific coast.
As a prime destination for ecotourism, Peru boasts a tremendous biodiversity of plant and wildlife, featuring primates, jaguars, pink dolphins, over 4,000 types of butterflies and 8,000 bird species. Its people are known for strong nationalism and preservation of traditional cultural characteristics — a mix of Spanish, African, and New World influences — that define its unique identity among South American nations.
For convenience, efficiency, and cost-effective travel, the one of best ways to get around is to rent a car in Peru. The western half of the country is served by a three-headed highway system that starts with the Pan American Highway (RN 1) that runs the length of the coastline, and connects with the Carretera de la Sierra (RN 3) that heads off into the Andes Mountains, and the Carretera Marginal de la Selva (RN 5) that links the capital city of Lima with the lesser cities of Pisco, Ayacucho, and the gateway to Lake Titicaca, Juliaca, in the south.
Despite the fact that roughly half of these so-called highways are paved surfaces, tolls are required for north-south travel. But generally speaking, all of the major destinations and attractions are accessible by decent, if not somewhat bumpy roads. Local drivers tend to apply a great deal of poetic license to the phrase “safe driving habits”, but generally speaking, speeds are kept low by variations in altitude and road conditions.
Choosing your car
Cheap car rentals in Peru are supplied by National, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Thrifty, and Hertz. Choose from minicars, compact sedans, economy hatchbacks, fullsize 4-door sedans, estate wagons, 7-12 seaters, and midsize and fullsize SUVs.
Tips and advice
Peruvians are quite familiar with Western travelers, and many speak passable English, but you’ll avoid some common pitfalls and scams if you have a little bit of Spanish in your travel kit.
Unless your travel itinerary is confined to Lima and the west coast, all-wheel drive vehicles are highly recommended for navigating the roads of Peru.
Fuel stations are rare outside of developed areas and those that exist are typically closed after sundown.
Stay safe by avoiding poorly-lit areas throughout the country, but especially in Lima.
Car rentals in Peru include Collision/Loss Damage Waiver that doesn’t cover damage to tires and wheels — the two most frequently damaged features of a car hire in Peru. Double up on your insurance coverage.
Checkpoints are situated throughout Peru and police have been known to solicit bribes for phantom “violations.” Be sure your carry your original travel documents at all times. Copies generally invite trouble.