Renting a car in Peru


Many visitors to Peru are keen to rent a car and use it throughout their vacation. In much of the developed world rental is the best or even the only way to get around, but in Peru there are generally better ways to see the country.

The standard international rental agencies operate from Lima’s international airport, but their prices are high even by international standards. In Peru, it can be cheaper to take on a car with a driver than to rent from Hertz. However, you can expect international quality service and well maintained vehicles from all of these companies — which also tend to charge about the same rates. In terms of specific recommendations, the only solid information that we have is that Aldisa Rent a Car is apparently a disreputable, unsafe, and unrealiable outfit. We have never received any favorable reviews of this operator.

There are also smaller, cheaper companies renting cars, particularly in Lima, at very reasonable rates. However, with these there is no guarantee of the quality or maintenance record of the vehicle, and the legal formalities are often not complete, leaving you open to fines (or more realistically, having to hand out bribes) to traffic police.

You can expect to be stopped frequently and have all your documents checked; and don’t forget, the standard tourist visa that you get on entry does not give you the ability to sign documents; effectively, you signature is worthless unless you upgrade your visa. This may well mean that your rental contract is not valid.

Road signage is generally inadequate, as most road users already know the routes. It’s easy to get lost, especially as road maps often omit major highways while including routes that have yet to be constructed. Most of the country’s roads are unsurfaced, and demand a different skill set to the driving conditions that you may be used to.

There is also a very different style of road use here; pedestrians may leap in front of you, and you cannot expect other drivers to use their indicator lights or to respect stop signs. Road traffic accident rates are about 10 times those in the developed world.

Finally, the distances involved are very long. From Lima to Arequipa is a comfortable overnight bus ride, or about 1000km of driving along the Panamerican Highway through the coastal desert.

So, what are the other options available? Fortunately, public transport is excellent. Within cities taxis are cheap and generally very reliable. For longer routes, all major cities are served by safe and comfortable long distance buses that cost far less than even the fuel used by an economic car over the same route, and every road that exists in the country will have reasonably priced public transport options. There is also a decent network of internal flights serving major cities, with Lima as the hub.

If, despite all the disadvantages, you are sure that renting a car in Peru is for you:

1.       Get a good quality map; the LIMA2000 map is one of the best, but still not totally reliable for minor roads

2.      Make sure you know how to perform simple maintenance on the car

3.      Check that you have all of the necessary documentation, including and international or interamerican drivers license and insurance, to drive the car legally

4.      When using minor roads, talk to local transport operators about the route and the condition of the road before starting. Landslips often close roads while maintenance crews work on them; strikes and roadblocks are also fairly common, and should be avoided

5: be courteous and unhurried when dealing with transport police. Generally, they just want to check that everything is in order and will then let you carry on unmolested. Treat them with respect, and act as though their questions are intelligent even when they’re not. If it comes to it, 20 soles is the standard bribe. 


45 Responses

  1. Nice.
    From personal experience 20 soles is the appropriate bribe.

  2. “(or more realistically, having to hand out bribes) to traffic police.”
    LOL! that’s funny :P. But wouldn’t paying the fine help the country? Cops and people should realize this, I hope some day they will.

  3. Really good one!!

  4. very informative article on car rental in peru. Your advices are really very good

  5. I need to search the international standard!

  6. I enjoyed this sentence “20 soles is the standard bribe”

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  8. The ratio of road traffic accident is terrible. Is not there tow away zone area?

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  22. It is very nice introduction from renting and rentals in Peru. I will visit again and again for more information. Have a nice time ahead.

  23. the only thing real on this page is bribery. The roads are well paved cities and also marked and charged tolls for travel on these tracks, vehicles for rent with more than 3 years require mostly technical review are all risk insurance


    Aleksander R. Caldas Salinas
    aldisa rent a car

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  25. A whole new travel experience

  26. I need to search the international standard!

  27. There’s certainly a great deal to learn about this subject. I really like all of the points you’ve made.

  28. Aldisa Rent a Car is apparently a disreputable, unsafe, and unrealiable……100% true

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