Car rentals in Peru: A driver’s guide
A set of newly acquired rental car keys
Photo by Dennis Yang/Flickr
Should you rent a car during your travels in Peru? If you have spoken to people who have driven in Peru, they may tell you that driving there is considered as an “extreme sport.” Before you decide to rent your car, make sure that you reflect on the need of it. Renting a car can ensure that you have more flexibility and freedom during your travels, but keep in mind that driving a car in Peru, and particularly Lima, is probably very different from what you are used to!
Renting a car in Peru
There are pros and cons to renting a car in Peru. If you are going cross-country, driving a rental car ensures you get a beautiful scenic trip and you will be able to appreciate the stunning landscapes at your own leisure. Furthermore, if you come across a place you like while driving, having your own car gives you the freedom to make unexpected stops. Most travelers will, however, tell you that traffic in Peru is difficult to get around in, especially in Lima, and that driving is not for the faint of heart!
There is traffic at almost all times of the day in Lima
Photo by James C./Flickr
If you do decide to drive in Peru and wish to rent a car, some of the main car hire companies are:
- Dollar Rent-A-Car 51+1 998277819
- Avis Rent-A-Car +51 1 2020400
- Budget Rent-A-Car +51 1 2044400
- Hertz 511-445-5716
- Sixt +51 1 2423939
- Basic Car Rental +51 1 269 382-2820
- Alamo Rent-A-Car +51 1 269 382-2820
It is best to rent a car from one of the bigger (listed) international companies, as the cars tend to be better maintained, and your price will be guaranteed. Travelers have reported unusual charges on their credit cards and being charged more than the agreed price with smaller companies. Either way: make sure you always read your contract carefully, including fine print, and watch out for extra mileage and insurance costs or other hidden charges.
In general, avoid picking up your rental car at the airport. Lima’s traffic and roads are very challenging to drive on, even for the best drivers! So take a taxi to the hotel instead, and then make arrangements for the rental car. Some of the bigger rental companies will bring your car straight to your hotel.
Rates and rules
Renting a small car will cost you approximately $60-80 USD per day, plus insurance. The price of fuel in Peru is approximately $6 USD per gallon. Your best option is to choose a 4-wheel drive, especially if you are covering long distances, but renting a truck or jeep can be pricey.
Various car rental companies have strict rules dictating the areas where the rented car is permitted to drive. You should make sure you check your car when you first receive it: note any dents or scratches. Also ensure you have your obligatory first-aid kit, and a spare tire that fits – just in case!
To rent a car in Lima, the minimum required age of the driver is 23-25 years old. As is the case in most countries, younger drivers should expect additional fees. In order to rent a car in Peru you will need a credit card, a valid international driver’s license for tourists, and your passport.
Renting a taxi instead
Sometimes getting a rental car in Peru is not necessarily the best or cheapest option for most travelers. Distances in Peru can be lengthy, roads are not always in the best condition, and Peruvian drivers, although extremely skilled, tend to be quite aggressive. The US State Department warns against driving in Peru, especially on rural roads, alone, or late at night. It is recommended that instead of renting your own car, you hire a taxi driver.
Getting around Lima is easiest by taxi, and it will save you from having to personally compete with other drivers who at times have little respect for traffic rules. You should book the taxi through your hotel. Your hotel will know some friendly drivers, who know the best areas to visit, and they may even speak English! Renting a taxi will not cost you more than $50-$60 USD per day.
Alternatively, if you are traveling long distances through Peru, it might be a good idea fly instead of drive. Flying is less risky, faster, and even cheaper than driving (once you calculate rental costs, gas, insurance and mileage). But no matter what option you choose, make sure to buckle up and just enjoy the ride!