Earth > Americas > South America > Peru
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Peru is a country in South America located at the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Perú borders Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia. Hitchhiking is quite good, depends on the region you are in. Some Peruvians might expect you to contribute to fuel cost, but if you make your intentions clear you should be alright.
In general in peru in many areas private cars are not so common, And it's much more common to see Motocars, and coombis (small shuttle busses). Also a lot of people use their normal private cars as taxis. So it can get a bit tricky to hitchhike. Many times if people understand your situation they will offer you a free ride, even on a motocar or a motorcycle.
- 1 The Coast
- 2 Mountains
- 3 The Jungle
- 4 Mototaxi
- 5 Border Crossings
- 6 Cities
- 7 Personal Experiences
- 8 Nomadwiki & Trashwiki
That would be all of the Sechura Desert, and the Pan-American highway. Hitchhiking is easier on this highway, and works well around the clock. This is where you will get the longest, smoothest rides of Peru. You will rarely be charged for rides on this sector of the highway. Not to mention the endless swathes of campable desert.
The easiest part is Panamericana - the motorway connecting Piura in the north, through Chiclayo, Trujillo and Lima along the coast with Nazca in the south. So many lorries, you won´t have any problems there. Most of them go long distance, so you`ll easily do 400+ km in a day.
In the deep south of Perú there's the towns of Ilo and Boca del Rio between the bigger inland cities of Moquegua and Tacna. Hitchhiking here is so easy you wonder why there's still people taking the bus. Mind of a Hitchhiker got invited for some spontaneous couchsurfing, then freecamped next to the Jesus Christ statue in Boca del Rio with the blessing of the guys fixing the telephone towers and finally went to Tacna and stayed at the bomberos (firefighters) for a while. The people here are utter relaxed, though be sensitive with talking about Chile as the next cities in Chile (Arica and Iquique) used to be Peruvian territory and Tacna used to be Chile for a while. There's many Chileans in town for shopping, so one might find a direct ride to the border from the city centre. Tacna is also the only place in Perú with a big mosque due to Pakistani immigration in the '90s because right-steering-wheeled cars were allowed in Perú then. The mosque is possibly a place to sleep in too if you ask the Imam nicely and respect Islamic customs (no shoes inside and both men and women cover up, try to be clean). If you go to one of the Pakistani restaurants they might invite you to their home too.
It gets more difficult once you´re heading to the jungle or the andes - roads are much worse, with much less traffic, and worse, majority of which are public buses, combis and the like, so not many options to hitchhike, but if you´re patient, still doable.
Expect very slow, long rides in old trucks, similar to the mountains in Bolivia. Many of the roads are kind of curvy which makes rides slow. There is less cars movement in general but more buses and minibuses pass by in comparison to the jungle. They sometimes offer you a free ride if you say you don’t have money. Hitchhiking is ok, depends which part of the mountains you are in. It seems generally that the norther parts it is easier compared to southern parts of the mountains.
There is a train from Puno to Cusco, but it is very expensive. And there are also quite a lot of buses which are much cheaper than the train. However, there is also a very hoppable freight train that runs during nights and is an exhilarating ride. themodernnomad rode this freight train out of Cusco and then turned right around and rode it back.
Mind of a Hitchhiker didn't catch any slow, long rides in old trucks in the mountains at all on her way from Puno to Moquegua/the Pacific Coast (370km). From Puno to Moquegua is the Ruta PE-36B and the best way to get out of town is with micro number 33 which stops at the end of the city next to a speed bump ("tope"). As a lot of people moved from Puno to Tacna for economic reasons, there's many big buses passing through and if you ask nicely you can go for free for a bit. Try to hitch from one of the peajes (toll stops) where there's usually policemen checking papers who are willing to stop cars for you. It gets really cold and rainy here and between Puno and Moquegua there's no roadside accomodation so carry a tent. Once you pass Titire, the mining area starts with its heavy trucks full of ore. There's plenty of Toyota Hilux on the road too for faster transportation and they're more likely to stop than any other kind. This is a popular route for Bolivian trucks too and all Peruvian drivers seem scared of them as they tend to treat curves as straight lines. The landscape here is some of the most changing you can witness in one day of hitchhiking as it goes from Titicaca mountain lake, to altiplano, rocky peaks, snow (in summer too), sand mountains, Dakar-worthy dunes, desert and finally oasis and the Pacific. You're allowed to cry.
Hitchhiking here is kind of good, but it's tiny problematic. Many areas don't have so many cars passing by, Especially private cars. And many areas have problematic road that make the car flow even lower. But even without asking a lot of people stop and offer a ride or help from any sort. Like any other part of Peru it's better to say you can't pay for this ride before you go on.
MotoTaxi (also known as Motocar, Motor, Tooktook or Riksha) is a 3 wheeled vehicle That have somewhat of a motorcycle in the front and passenger’s sits on the back. Some times the vehicle has walls and sometimes it doesn’t. Many people use them as a small Taxi for short distances. In many areas it can be a little bit difficult to hitchhike because those are very common, And if they will see you hitchhiking they will assume that you want them to stop as a paid taxi. So you might find yourself moving your thumb in and out a lot. In some of the regions 90% of the traffic will be Mototaxis. In case you are walking on the road some of them will stop and might offer you a free ride.
How long can I stay in Perú?
Without asking or being asked for how long, hitchhiker MOAH just got 90 days in Perú, which probably applies to all EU citizens. There's stories that if you ask the migration officer nicely, you can get 180 days just like that. Bingo!
Some nationalities can get 90 days on entrance and apply for another 90 days in the migration offices towards the end of their first 90 days.
What to do with your coca leafs?
Coca leaves, the ground product for cocaine, are legal in Perú and you'll probably hitch with some drivers with a big ball in their cheek chewing constantly. Though it's from the Andes region, helpful for combating altitude sickness and makes a pretty mean tea, it's not "legal" in all countries to carry with and one must be careful with border crossings and it might be wise to give it to another traveler/local or plain dump it (in the trash). As it's both legal (and growing) in Perú and Bolivia, it wasn't an issue to take a full bag of leafs over the border, as experienced by MOAH from Bolivia's Copacabana to Perú's Puno at the Titicaca Lake, so that could also apply the other way around. They didn't check any luggage at all on either side to be honest.
Fruit and Vegetable restrictions
When you enter Peru you might be asked if you have any fruit or vegetables with you. If you do have any they might make you throw it to the trash or you might get a fine. EVEN WITHIN PERÚ there are special protected subregions though where Peruvian fruit and seeds can't be imported from one district to another and if you take a freaking apple from Puno and take it to Moquegua (where they have a super valley full of avocados (palta) and begins the "Ruta de Pisco"), you might be fined. Didn't apply to coca leafs though.
Puno - Copacabana WARNING: avoid Copacabana at all costs during any public holiday, especially if you're dependent on hostels and can't go camping. All of La Paz flocks to the lake on (long) weekends especially around Christmas and NYE. There's about 50 "hostales" and they manage to get all of them full. Even fast food takes an hour during holidays. The following originally appeared on the page for Bolivia From the occasionally extortionately priced town of Copacabana (which is actually the "original" Copacabana if you have a Trivia night) you have to get to the border town of Kasani 12 km south, which passes the Copacabana airport. You can hitch there or say fuck it and take the 3 Boliviano micro (which is 2 for locals/non gringos). The Migración office is on your right hand now and you have to have your passport and green paper (sucks if you lost it, I don't know the consequences of this but it probably involves a bribe) ready for the angry men. Should take one minute to check out of Bolivia if you manage to answer questions correctly and not piss off anyone in the process. Hurrah! Now you have to walk 300 meters past the church the Perú statue and you'll find the Peruvian office on your right hand too. Again, you'll have to fill in a form that you have to carry with you during your entire stay like upon entering Bolivia. These guys were friendly, which probably has something to do with the fact that they have a nicer building to perform their job in. The first town on the Peruvian side is named Yunguyo and you're about 2 km away from it. You can get a 2 Soles micro there or walk to the end of it to get to hitch to Puno, which is really easy though it's still 120 km away! As experienced by MOAH, hitchhiking in Perú is a fucking breeze compared to Bolivia.
Puno - Desaguadero The region in this area both in Peru and Bolivia is called the Alto Plano, It basically means that it is very high and more or less flat. We are talking about more than 4000 meters high, so basically there isn’t so much oxygen Which can lead to a constant headache, and doing simple tasks can feel tiring. After awhile you get use to it but it’s important to mention. It is also relatively very cold all year long, and in the rainy season you can find your tent sitting all of a sudden in a paddle. So be careful not to camp in flat areas that rain drains to. Hitchhiking by it self is not so hard, but it’s also not super good. You’ll need to cross two big cities, Puno and Juliaca, which is always not so easy for hitchhikers. Some parts of the road don’t have much movement especially on Sunday’s and especially close to the border. In overall it is not super easy but certainly doable. The crossing in Desaguadero is not too difficult. There are few bridges that cross the river, some of them are closed for civilians. The most northern one is the normal crossing. If you go by the river people with small boats will offer you to take you the other side for a small payment. Don’t do it if you wish to stay legal. The immigration office is close to the crossing of the bridge in both sides. You’ll have to enter the buildings and wait in a line sometimes. For SonOfaHitch it went really smooth. Few questions like how long you are going to stay, Do you have Covid Vaccination which they barely checked. And that’s it No luggage check or anything in both sides.
Mind of a Hitchhiker hitchhiked over the border from Tacna in Perú (complejo fronteriza Santa Rosa) to Arica (complejo fronteriza de Chacalluta) in Chile in 2016 and describes the process as following. The 40km road from the outskirts of Tacna passes by the airport, which is an OK place to start hitchhiking even though there's no speed bump ("tope") and the cars drive pretty fast. One can walk 5km from Tacna's plaza here or take bus 35 leaving from the centre. There's also a village called Ciudad de Dios 2km further on this road where the cars go slower and 5 km after that the train line crosses the street and slows cars down as it functions as a speed bump. At the train rails all traffic officially goes to the border but the bus doesn't go farther than the village mentioned previously. People get a little nervous around this border so it might be hard to convince people to take you all the way to Arica through customs. At the Peruvian side all people get out of the car to pass through immigration without their luggage. Keep your piece of stamped paper you got upon entering Perú ready. Your driver carries a form with details of the passengers in the car that they need to show on both borders. You can't leave the car between borders as the number has to be the same. Your driver will need your name, document number and a few other details like whether you're married or not. The Peruvian side should be relatively easy to get through. One kilometer further is the Chilean border where everyone has to get out of the car with their luggage which goes through a scanner. After getting your entrance stamp, the Chilean side requires you to fill in a form declaring you don't carry seeds and other plant products or have more than one laptop, two phones and some other random rules applying to your luggage. Two packs of cheaper Peruvian cigarettes should be fine, but more can be tricky. Only your luggage goes through the machine and your body doesn't go through a metal detector, so what's in your pockets probably remains your own business. Occasionally they have dogs here. After passing both borders with your driver you can find another ride or just carry on with your drivers to Arica as that's only 15 km away and everybody is going there anyway. Welcome to Chile!
Tumbes is a town located in the north of Peru. It is not a big town but really messy, therefore there is no need to waste time there. If you come from Ecuador (Aguas Verdes – Huaquillas), it is necessary to pass through tumbles if you want to get to the north of the Peruvian coast (Mancora, Punta Sal, Zorritos..). I hitchhiked Guayaquil – Santa Rosa – Huaquillas (EC) to Tumbes (PE) in 12h. Everyone knows how easy is to hitchhike in Ecuador 🙂 From Tumbes, if you wanna go south, I recommend to cross the town until Rio Tumbes. After crossing the bridge in about 150mts you will find a gas station and small restaurants with many trucks and cars. You can ask the people there, they are nice. I waited about 30 min (sunbathing at 35 °C) and got a 200km ride straight to the beach. If you come from Aguas Verdes you can easily get a ride to Tumbes walking on the main street (Panamericana Norte), as well as from the customs (Aduana) at the border crossing in the highway 1N-Auxiliar Panamericana Norte. People are nice, especially ecuatorian drivers. One of them left me in the center of Tumbes, from there in 10 minutes I reached the bridge to the south. Pay attention, as Tumbes is not the safest town in Peru
Buenas rutas! User: nachoxsur
Puerto Maldonado – Assis Brazil
Hitchhiking in this area towards Brazil is very easy. Many people offer rides and try to help even if you don’t ask. Of course there is always the chance to fall on a bad spot where nobody stops. But in general it is easy to hitchhike.
The Peruvian side is a classical jungle. Tends to be hot and humid. Many parts of the road is not shaded so you should be prepared in case of a hot day. Many people come to work in the mines here, which some times brings shady people that came just for finding gold. The locals warn SonOfaHitch from the town Pampas, which is on the way. Puerto Maldonado is quite a big city, but once you are close to the exist points of it it is quite easy to get rides, But also inside the city sometimes people offer rides if they see you walking.
On the Brazilian side you should know that there is barely any jungle left next to the road. It is all flat grass. It is also less populated and there are big distances between villages, with some houses along side the road.
The crossing itself is kind of weird. The two cities Iñapari and Asiss are kind of a buffer zone between Peru and Brazil. You can move between those little towns like you are not really crossing a border. In the entrance to both towns from both sides there is immigration police. But they are not the official Immigration offices. They might check you to see if you are legal, but also many times they don’t.
The immigration office in Iñapari is open 24 hours they told me, but I wouldn’t recommend coming really late or early. It is located inside the town (-10.955238,-69.577738 Google Maps). If you don’t manage to find it ask the mototaxis, most of them know where it is. You will probably won’t notice it if you just walk through the town. The process is kind of normal. They ask you questions if you want to leave or enter Peru, And if you are vaccinated to which they only want to see some papers but barely check them. Not very friendly and speaks mainly Spanish but in general not too difficult.
On the Brazilian side the immigration office is on the road towards the rest of Brazil. It is the first window to your left when you try to walk towards Brazil crossing the big gate. They are open from 8:00 – 12:00 and from 14:00 – 18:00 but maybe better not coming towards the end or begging of shifts. Also kind of normal crossing process, They were really kind and gave 90 days like nothing. They might even give you access to Brazil before you officially left Peru. So if you don’t want to have a fine when you come back don’t forget to visit the Peruvian office first. They didn’t ask for any Covid papers.
- Chincha Alta
- Ciudad de Dios
November 2012 - I hitchhiked from Chiclayo to Casma, then to Huaraz. Chiclayo to Casma was easy-peasy, I walked from the center where I couchsurfed all the way out of the town, along the Panamericana Sur, with my thumb up. You only get good traffic once a bit further out of the city, with less local traffic. You should get a lorry within 30 min, for me it was that, a lorry with local guys transporting mangoes. They dropped me off at Trujillo, where I got another lorry within 5 minutes. All the way to Casma, where I stayed overnight. This is where it got harder, as you´re off the main route, there´s hardly any traffic and the best I could do within 2 hours was a 40km ride by a very friendly local family. After they dropped me off (and during the ride), there was virtually no other car on the way to Huaraz, but public transport (combis). So I called it a day and took the combi. But if you have more time and patience, you can still do it, just expect to spend a lot of time waiting and walking. lukasc
(hitchhiking is cultural imperialism sometimes? we'll see!) Yeah! you can hitch Peru! Man, I got picked up by this amazing troupe of singing girls and their piano player who took me in and out and fed me fruit and trussed me up real nice. I was awful dirty, an what gorgeous girls. I found the south more difficult, cause no one had cars. don't take that $80 45minute train to Machu Picchu: the money goes to big-wigs in Chile, to whom Peru's ancient corrupt president sold the rail two decades ago. or so they say in Aguacalientes. -k
I found hitchhiking quite hard in Peru, mainly cos of the lack of private vehicles. i managed to get from Chiclayo to Tumbes up by the Ecuadorian border hitching - staying overnight in Piura and Máncora. Most cars will wanna charge you, but the odd lorry will pick you up. Don't be surprised if they make you hide when going through the toll booths, it's a legal thing.
I've hitched through Peru on a couple different adventures through nearly every region. Hitchhiking in Peru varies from great to all right, depending on the place. Just expect to walk a lot. There are some very enjoyable places off the side of remote desert roads by the coast and in the south, and the jungles are some of the coolest of South America! I only sometimes got asked to pay, and if I made it clear I wasn't out to pay for rides then there were no problems whatsoever. - themodernnomad
Hitchhiking in Peru is rather easy. After having hitched nearly 2000 km in Peru I have not been asked to contribute any money for the ride. Most rides are in private vehicles and the people are very generous. They like to buy you meals and invite you to their homes." - Eripson
I spent around 5 months hitching in Peru. I found that hitching worked well, but markedly less so than its northern neighbor Ecuador. I spent many a long night hour huddled in the back of open-air rig trailers slicing through the cold mountain air. Don't forget that winter gear. -Chael777
3 weeks thumbing and bumming about, May 2014 - I found Peru a brilliant place to hitchhike, and met a raft of wonderful characters. There seemed to be alot of fear being spread from the locals about delinquency in the larger coastal cities, stark warnings in particular about Tumbes, Truijillo, Chimbote and Pisco. This could be paranoia, but violent crime is in the rise, so it might be wise to try and hitch 'past' these cities. I had no problems in all my time, and didn't even feel unsafe. Churches, tolls and police stations were all happy to let me camp nearby. Food is cheap and filling, truckers spirited. People warmer in the south. Sneaking into Machu P is very difficult, and I gave up and paid a ticket. Gulp. For me, not worth it at all. Most of the other sites, e.g. Ollantaytambo, are easy to sneak into. Present yourself in the right manner and you'll get many free lifts from taxi drivers and tourist minibuses" - lukeyboy95
I spent about 3 weeks in Peru in September 2015. Along the Pan American highway makes for fantastic hitchhiking, and safe too. I spent days and nights continuously hitchhiking by the coast, even hitchhiking inside the cities and stopping now and then to sleep in the deserts wrapped up in my tarp. Some of the Peruvian truck drivers I meet were great guys, often wanting to buy lunch and chat (having Spanish is extremely useful). Lima has an active Couchsurfing scene too and is a nice city, my favorite part of Peru was hitching the road from Lima to Arequipa, the cliffs were stunning. I lost a bit of love for the country however when I hitchhiked up to Cusco and then on towards the Bolivia border. The hitchhiking was far more difficult away from the coast and the locals often demanded money unless they were truck drivers. Be prepared to chip in with gas around Cusco and Puno but don't let anyone rip you off. Lake Ticitaca is worth a visit if you can swing it but to be honest if you miss Cusco I wouldnt be too upset, its not the highlight. I need to return someday and explore Peru's Amazon" - HoboSpirit
April 2022 “I spent around 5 months in Peru, Going from Jaen – Tarapoto – Tingo Maria – Lima – Nasca -Cusco – Puerto Maldonado – Brazil and again from Bolivia – Desaguadero – Puno – Sicuani – Cusco – Quillabamba – Arequipa – Chile In general it was a great experience. Many people offered me help. I stayed in many houses and made many friends. I will divide Peru to 6 regions. Jungle which tends to be very friendly and hot. Mountains which are super high with slow roads. People are a bit more shy but still friendly. Coast/Desert Much bigger and faster road. People are a little bit more suspicious about travelers. After short conversation they tend to open up. Big cities, they tend to be more tense and the people are more modern and less innocent, still very friendly. And Plano Alto next to Bolivia. I found the culture to be a mix between Peru and Bolivia. People come and talk to you, and might gift you some soda, but less invitation to homes and things like that. Talk will also tend to be shorter. After awhile I decided I don’t want to put my thumb out anymore, and just started to walk instead, people tend to stop to ask why am I walking and then they usually offer food, shelter and rides even without thumbing” - SonOfaHitch
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