On the whole, the situations you’ll encounter are more annoying than dangerous, with frequent comments such as que guapa (“how pretty”), intrusive and prolonged stares, plus whistling and hissing in the cities . Worse still are the occasional rude comments and groping, particularly in crowded situations such as on buses or trains. Blonde and fair-skinned women are likely to suffer much more of this behaviour than darker, Latin-looking women. Mostly these are situations you’d deal with routinely at home – as Limeña women do here in the capital – but they can, understandably and rightly, seem threatening without a clear understanding of Peruvian Spanish and slang. To avoid getting caught up in something you can’t control, any provocation is best ignored. In a public situation, however, any real harassment is often best dealt with by loudly drawing attention to the miscreant. Bear in mind that sexual assault in Peru is a rare thing; it is mostly just a matter of macho bravado, and rarely anything more serious.
In the predominantly Indian, remote areas there is less of an overt problem, though this is surprisingly where physical assaults are more likely to take place. They are not common, however – you’re probably safer hiking in the Andes than walking at night in most British or North American inner-cities. Two obvious, but enduring, pieces of advice are to travel with friends (being on your own makes you most vulnerable), and if you’re camping, to be quite open about it. As ever, making yourself known to locals gives a kind of acceptance and insurance, and it may even lead to the offer of a room – Peruvians, particularly those in rural areas, can be incredibly kind and hospitable. It’s also sensible to check with the South American Explorers’ Club, particularly in Cusco, for information on the latest trouble spots.