Recently someone reached out to me and told me they were visiting Peru in the next year. I jumped for joy at the possible thought of someone coming down to Lima, and maybe seeing a familiar face. They asked me for advice on places not to go for lack of security, criminal activity, and overall places that should be avoided for safety reasons.
***WOMEN – Be careful – Sexual assault is a frequent activity – Try not to go alone! ***
Growing up in the country, I always wondered what it would be like living in a city and getting to know the “rougher” areas of a city, and how did an individual come to that understanding of dangerous areas. Well I have the answer to my own question, and the answer is this:
Time, communication, and experience
I started out living in San Miguel, which is generally a safe district, but it is much different than Miraflores for example, and San Isidro, which are both higher class working class districts and which attract many tourists.
Here are some districts that I do not recommend going to without proper preparation, connections, and a complete understanding:
- San Juan de Miraflores
- This district has an incredibly cheap market, but you have to keep an eye out for opportunistic ladrones (robbers).
- Barrios (ghettos)
- Violent crimes
- Gang related activity
- Assault and theft
- Violent crimes
- La Victoria
- Assaults and theft
- I have heard rumors of people being kidnapped temporarily, robbed, and left somewhere.
- Barrios (ghettos) – One time, we were coming back from Santa Maria del Mar beach and we had to go through La Victoria late at night. It was a little chatoic, a little dirtier, and there were people in the streets blocking traffic, but nothing terrible happened, but this place is definitely a place to be well aware of.
- Certain parts of San Miguel
- If you are near Callao, expect to standout if you are a gringo. I lived near an area here for a month and heard gunshots and some points, and experienced a medium-sized fight that turned violent over a soccer game
- San Juan de Lurigancho
- I have a friend who lives here. He told me that you cannot trust anyone that talks to you on the street, no matter what. I want him to take me here someday, but he refuses to (probably for good reason).
- This place is not dangerous by any means, but theft is common. There have been a few times coming home from my daily commute to work (classes), that I see people reach through bus windows taking belongings such as phones, wallets, or purses and running in the opposite direction.
- This district is next to Miraflores and has a lot of localized character with street food, restaurants, tons of graffiti, but like many other places you just need to be aware of your surroundings.
The last ones underneath this bullet point are more lower class areas with socioeconomic issues, ghettos and more risks of theft, or how people call them here are Lugares feos (literal translation ugly places). I do not necessarily like to call them ugly places, but they definitely have their own issues here with higher rates of crime. For me, these places are eye opening to my own lifestyle.
- Los Olivos
- Ate Vitarte
- Santa Anita
- El Agustino
- Villa a Salvador
I want to fully express that every district you visit including Miraflores, San Isidro, and Barranco which are all toursity destinations, should be visited with caution. You should be aware of your surroundings 24/7. You do not have to or should not have to feel paranoid by any means, but hold your belongings close to you. Do not let your belongings sit somewhere very long or at all away from you.
Theft and robbery can happen anywhere and anytime. Also, thieves become creative. They can team up on you to distract you for a brief second, while someone from behind takes something. Moral of the story, do not be fooled, be aware, be alert, and do NOT be paranoid, and you will be fine.
In terms of visiting the places above, if you visit them, go along with someone who knows the areas. If you do not know anyone, talk to people and fully research the area for the time of day, and to fully understand the situation and district risks before risking your belongings and your life. You do not hear about many people getting kidnapped or killed here, but things can happen, so do your homework before you visit. I am trying to make more connections with people to visit a barrio and to walk through one and get to know some people who live there for learning purposes, but of course – Safety First!
Have you visited any of these places before? Have you had any problems? Let me know in the comments, or send me an email!
P.S. Lima is a safe place to visit, you just need to be aware of the people you are around, and the place that you are in. Honestly, it really is not bad, you just need to be aware and careful. 🙂 Happy Traveling