We couldn't WAIT to visit Peru during our big trip around South America!
And you know what? Peru called, and she sure as hell delivered!
Peru is a destination that is sure to captivate you in many ways, from the varied and eclectic cuisine to the Inca heartland around Cusco. When it comes to LGBTQ rights, Peru falls on the more conservative side, particularly when compared to its more liberal neighbors like Argentina and Colombia. Yet Peruvian society and government are both evolving, slowly, but surely!
Whilst the situation on the ground for the local Peruvian LGBTQ community still has plenty of room for improvement, for gay travelers to Peru, we won't lie, you're in for a treat! We loved it and would happily return for more.
We spent several months living in Lima, using it as a base to explore the country in full. Based on our first hand experiences, we've put together this detailed gay travel guide to Peru, which we hope will inspire your trip and give you some handy tips.
Hike the Inca Trail on a gay tour
Lace-up those hiking boots and prepare for your own Andean expedition, because you're invited to join our friends at Out Adventures on their annual all-gay Inca Trail hike. By joining their sweaty scamper you'll be automatically guaranteed an Inca Trail pass, a local LGBTQ-welcoming host and a veto-ed team of guides and porters. The tour also includes time in Lima, Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
Gay rights in Peru
Peru doesn't have the best track record when it comes to LGBTQ rights. Society is very conservative, largely due to the strong influence of the Catholic Church. However, change is very much in the air, thanks to the vigorous efforts of local LGBTQ activists and gay friendly politicians pushing for more progressive laws.
One particular area of progress in terms of gay rights in Peru is in relation to anti-discrimination. In 2017, the Peruvian government introduced a comprehensive set of laws that included hate crimes against sexual orientation and gender identity. Since 2016, the right to change legal gender was introduced, which allows transgender people to apply for a gender change without the need for sex reassignment surgery.
In relation to gay marriage laws, there are none…yet! Although Article 234 of the Peruvian Legal Code explicitly defines marriage as a voluntary union between a man and a woman, in February 2017, a bill was introduced to change this but the decision remains outstanding. More recently, however, in 2020, a Peruvian Court recognized the marriage of a lesbian couple that took place in Miami. For more about what gay life in Peru is really like, we recommend checking out our interview with Aaron from Lima.
Is Peru safe for gay travelers?
Very much so, yes! Whilst Peru's record on LGBTQ rights is not as gleaming and fabulous as Argentina's or Colombia's, when it comes to welcoming gay travelers, Peru does a pretty decent job!
This all comes down to the fact that tourism is one of Peru's largest industries – helped by the fact that it has one of, if not, THE most visited attraction in all of South America – Machu Picchu. As a gay couple traveling in Peru, we felt welcomed in all the hotels we stayed at, which included a mix of hostels, luxury hotels and local family-owned guesthouses. For us, booking a double bed was never an issue and we never felt we had to justify our sexuality to anyone.
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Any dangers we encountered in Peru would apply in equal measure to non-LGBTQ travelers, varying from airport scams to knowing which neighborhoods to avoid in Lima (San Juan de Lurigancho, Los Olivos, Comas, Vitarte, and El Agustino).
Best gay tours in Peru
We love joining gay tours on our adventures. It's not only a fab way to explore a new place, but it's also the ideal way to make a new group of travel buddies who will very likely become friends for life. Every time we've done a gay group tour we've always left with fantastic memories as well as a new set of friends who we've then met up with someplace else in the world! These are some of the best gay tour companies that offer trips to Peru.
1. Out Adventures Inca Trail and Machu Picchu
Out Adventures is arguably the best gay tour operator out there. They organize exciting gay group tours to a plethora of destinations. In Peru, be sure to check out their Inca Trail and Machu Picchu trek. This hike however is pretty intense, so be prepared to rough it for 4 days! This package also includes time in Lima, Cusco, and the Sacred Valley.
2. Out Adventures The Amazon and Machu Picchu
Out Adventures also offer a Peru gay trip that packs a lot of sights into one sexy package. Their Amazon and Machu Picchu group tour includes time spent exploring the Amazon Jungle while staying at a stunning jungle lodge. You'll get to spot monkeys, butterflies, otters, macaws, caiman, sloths, and more wild critters while on safari – then spend each night with pisco sours at cocktail hour. After the Amazon, this tour also heads to Machu Picchu – without the gruelling trek though!
3. HE Travel Machu Picchu Luxury Tour
If you want to explore Machu Picchu but don't fancy all the hiking and sleeping on the ground, then He Travel offers a fantastic alternative. Their luxury tour to Machu Picchu includes time spent exploring Lima, Cusco and the Sacred Valley, as well as leisurely bus and train travel to Machu Picchu itself. The whole tour also includes accommodation at deluxe hotels so you can truly relax. On the way back you can even upgrade your trip to include a ride on the elegant Hiram Bingham train.
HeTravel is offering our readers an exclusive 5% discount valid for any cruise and tour you book with them.
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4. HE Travel Hiking Machu Picchu
For those who relish a physical challenge, He Travel also provides the option to join an all-gay hike of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This tour traverses the Inca Trail via the Salkantay trail, which travels through both a glacier and lush tropical rainforest. Most Inca Trail hikes go via the classic hike, but the Salkantay option is pretty incredible. It is, however, more strenuous and longer than the classic route so we'd recommend this if you are really physically fit. The Salkantay route is much quieter than the famous classic Inca Trail and also comes with a payoff of some breathtaking scenery.
HeTravel is offering our readers an exclusive 5% discount valid for any cruise and tour you book with them.
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Fill out this form to check availability for the Hiking Machu Picchu tour by HeTravel.
You can also contact He Traveldirectly, but don't forget to mention our promo code NomadicUH5 to get a 5% discount.
5. Coda Tours Deluxe Peru
Coda Tours offers small gay group tours that specialize in luxury and boy do they deliver with their Deluxe Peru tour! With small group sizes, you'll have plenty of one-on-one time with the knowledgeable guides and also become close friends with the other people on the tour. This tour in Peru only stays at four or five-star establishments in Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu so you won't need to sacrifice comfort to see the best of Peru's historical sites. Travel on the luxurious Hiram Bingham train is also included, so you'll feel like royalty throughout the trip!
Coda Tours is offering our readers an exclusive $125 discount valid for any cruise and tour you book with them. Click the button below to find out more.
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Fill out this form to check availability for the gay Deluxe tour of Peru with Coda Tour.
You can also contact Coda Tours directly, but don't forget to mention our promo code NOMADICBOYSCODA to get a $125 discount.
6. Brand g Amazon Cruise and Machu Picchu Expedition
Brand g creates some of the nicest gay group tours where you always walk away feeling like you've made friends for life with the other attendees. This offering is as welcoming as all others, especially when you think of the exclusively gay chartered cruise on the Amazon river. You'll get to cruise in five-star luxury along the Amazon River, with daily excursions, before catching a train to explore Machu Picchu and the sacred valley. This tour is perfect for exploring some of the most incredible sights and experiences in Peru, without sacrificing comfort.
BrandG is offering our readers an exclusive 5% discount valid for this tour. Fill out this form to find out more
CHECK AVAILABILITY FOR THIS TOUR NOW
Fill out this form to check availability for the Amazon and Machu Picchu expedition cruise with Brand G.
You can also contact BrandG directly, but don't forget to mention our promo code NOMADICBG at checkout to get your 5% discount off the total price.
7. Detours Travel Peru Tour
For a gay group trip to Peru which includes all the big must-sees like Machu Picchu, Lima and Cusco PLUS a fabulous beach getaway, you can't go past this 12-day tour by Detours Travel. As well as time spent in the capital and visiting the ancient Incan sites, you get to explore the beachside town of Paracas. This town is surrounded by sand dunes and palm trees, plus you'll be staying at a stunning beachside hotel with an incredible pool to boot. It's not many trips that let you experience so many different sides of beautiful Peru!
8. Zoom Peru Group Tour
This group tour by Zoom Vacations is perfect for American travelers looking for an epic experience during Thanksgiving, as it takes place at the end of November and even includes a special Thanksgiving dinner event! Everything about this trip is pretty special and luxurious, from dinner with cocktails on the Hiram Bingham train to the optional excursion to see rare orchids in the private grounds of the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. There are lots of other optional extras for this journey as well and the lovely Zoom staff will ensure your experience is unforgettable.
Top experiences in Peru for gay travelers
Peru offers so much for all gay travelers, from the gay clubs in Miraflores to the huffing and puffing for breath in beautiful downtown Cusco – don't take those high altitudes for granted peeps! The natural beauty of Peru is reason alone to visit, especially the Amazon jungle and the Inca heritage around the Sacred Valley. Oh, and did we mention there's even a rainbow mountain!?!
The gay scene of Lima
The gay scene of Lima has a whole bunch of gay bars and clubs, largely found in touristy Miraflores, trendy Barranco and in downtown Lima. The most popular ones to check out include ValeTodo, Legendaris, and Sagitario. There is also a groovy hot weekend fiesta taking place in the San Borja neighborhood called “La Cueva”, which includes the best drag shows in town and the hottest GoGo boys vying for your attention. Lima also has several gay saunas like the 240Club, Sauna 69Classico and Oupen, as well as annual LGBTQ events like Marcha del Orgullo in June/July and the Out Fest Peru gay film festival in June.
The foodie scene of Lima
Lima is well known throughout South America for being a foodie capital, home to some of the greatest restaurants in the world. The best way to get a taster of Lima's exciting food scene is on a foodie tour. We recommend joining this amazing tour which took us to some of the best restaurants in Miraflores and Barranco. Our tour with them also included a Pisco Sour making session and learning to make a jungle inspired ceviche at Amaz restaurant.
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Acclimatise in the Sacred Valley
We advise starting out here before heading off to Cusco, which is 3,500 meters (11,480 feet) altitude. No matter how old or young, fit or unfit you are, you will inevitably be affected by the altitude. Some of the villages in the Sacred Valley, like Urubamba, are several thousand feet lower than Cusco, which makes them the perfect base to acclimatize. One place we tried and LOVED is the opulent, gorgeous, and super luxurious Sol y Luna Relais & Châteaux in Urubamba – a traditional Andean village. Read more about it in our detailed gay guide to Cusco.
Visit the legendary Machu Picchu
Let's be honest, Machu Picchu is the main reason most people want to come to Peru – and for good reason! This stunning UNESCO listed Inca site stands 2,430 meters (7,970 feet) above sea level. It was built by the Incas in the 15th Century and is recognized as their most impressive creation. And honestly, believe the hype. You'll be spellbound from the moment you enter! The ruins are so impressive that even after 600 years, they still look like something nature created. Pro tip: to avoid the crowds, we recommend staying overnight at the lush Belmond Sanctuary Lodge which is just 300 feet away from the doorstep of the famous Inca ruins. The following day you'll be the first to enter and see Machu Picchu in all its glory before the crowds arrive. Just make sure you book your Machu Picchu tickets at least 6 months in advance as numbers are restricted.
Trek the Inca trail
Trekking in the Andes mountains was our favorite memory from Peru. The views of snow-capped mountain peaks, cloud forests, and the many Inca ruins you pass along the way is what makes it so rewarding. This is one of the most popular treks in Peru, culminating at Machu Picchu after a 4-day hike through the Sacred Valley. The Inca Trail was very important to the Incas because it was part of their route of pilgrimage to Machu Picchu. It has become so crowded over the years that the government now limits spaces to just 200 a day. To avoid disappointment, make sure you book it at least 6 months in advance. Read all about our experience in our write up of our own Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu.
Sashay with pride around the Rainbow Mountain
This multi-colored layered mountain is like nothing you've ever seen before! Vinicunca is the mountain's official name, or Montaña de Siete Colores. The seven different colors that can be seen in the mountain are caused by its unique mineralogical composition – try saying that seven times fast! Each layer is composed of a different mineral, the pink is from red clay; the white from quartzose, sandstone, and marls; the red is from claystones (iron); the green comes from phyllites and clays rich in ferro magnesian; the brown is from fanglomerate composed of rock with magnesium; and the mustard yellow color comes from calcareous sandstone. The Rainbow Mountain can be visited as a day trip from Cusco and involves a 2-hour trek at 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) altitude.
Take the Hiram Bingham Belmond luxury train
Whether you're visiting Machu Picchu as part of the Inca Trail or as a day trip, we recommend getting there and back from Cusco in style on board the Hiram Bingham Belmond luxury 1920s Pullman-inspired train. The experience includes a 3-course gourmet meal, unlimited drinks, attentive (English speaking) waiting staff, and a live band on board. The ticket also allows you to skip the queue and head straight into Machu Picchu on arrival. Just remember to go easy on those Pisco Sours at those high altitudes…seriously!
Swim with sea lions
There's a colony of sea lions at Palomino Island, located off the coast of Callao just a few hours boat ride from Lima. We visited as a day trip to swim with the sea lion colony living there and can't recommend it highly enough. They're adorable and super playful, like puppies in the water! There are several tour companies that offer this experience. We chose Mar Adentro Excursiones because they had the best Tripadvisor reviews. They organized our entire day, including hotel pickup, lunch, photography, and wet suits! The Pacific waters are freezing cold so you'll need that wet suit!
Hiking Colca Canyon
Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world and a must-visit for anyone interested in stunning natural scenery, local wildlife or traditional culture. The valley is home to villages dating back to pre-Incan times, where you can shop for crafts and clothing made from alpaca fur. The canyon is also a prime area for spotting wild Andean Condors, the giant hummingbird, and Chilean flamingos. It takes about three hours to get to the Colca Canyon from Arequipa; for more about the area be sure to check out our gay guide to Arequipa.
Explore Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca (try saying that with a straight face!) straddles the border of Peru and Bolivia at an altitude of 3,800 meters (12,500 feet). It is not only the world's highest lake but also one of the oldest – over 1 million years old. It's also home to many indigenous communities like the Uros, Taquile, and Quechua communities. Over the years Lake Titicaca has become a bit of a tourist trap, particularly around the islands close to Puno (the main transport hub). However, by staying overnight at one of the more remote islands, like Amantaní, you get a more authentic and rewarding experience. We stayed at the charming Amantica Lodge on Amantaní island and loved it! It felt like we had the entire Titicaca all to ourselves. We'd wake up every morning with an impressive view of the vast lake and nothing else around – just us, nature, and a few locals going about their day-to-day lives.
Pride and other gay events in Peru
Whilst Peru doesn't have any large international White Party-type events that you find in places like Miami, Madrid or Bangkok, it instead has a few humble local LGBTQ events worth checking out. The main ones are in Lima, with a few in Cusco. We've set out the main ones below:
OutFest Peru – June
OutFest Peru is the country's only gay film festival and takes place in the week just before Lima pride. If you're in Lima at the end of June then we recommend you check out some of the best LGBTQ movies of the year that are screened. Along with film screenings the festival program includes Q&A sessions with directors, workshops and a prize-giving ceremony that's like attending the Oscars! Check out the details for the next OutFest on their website.
Lima Pride – June/July
Also known as Marcha del Orgullo, Lima's gay pride week takes place at the end of June/beginning of July. There are a variety of parties and performances held during the week with the parade taking place on the Saturday. The parade is, of course, the highlight – with thousands of attendees coming to watch or take part in the colorful walk that usually starts at the Campo de Marte park in the Jesus Maria neighbourhood and heads north all the way to Plaza San Martin in Downtown Lima.
Gay travel agents in Peru
Out Adventures are a fantastic gay travel company who can create your own custom gay tour tailored to your needs so you can simply enjoy an exciting holiday. With a curated trip like this everything is taken care of for you and someone else handles all the stressful planning. Contact Out Adventures directly to organise your own fabulous gay tour of Peru.
Culinary highlights of Peru
This is one place on Earth where foodies will be over the moon! Peruvian cuisine has a variety of different culinary prizes to discover, with influences from the Incas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Lima is the place we recommend doing a cooking class or two to get the most out of it. We set out below our main Peruvian staples to try, but be sure to check out our more detailed guide to Peruvian food for more inspiration.
Ceviche is possibly Peru's most famous food, a raw-fish speciality that's also the country's national dish. While it's made from raw fish the fish is cured in citrus juices which effectively cook the flesh, although it still needs to be served and eaten fresh in order to avoid any risk of food poisoning. The marinade for cooking ceviche also includes chilis, onions, coriander and salt along with the citrus juice. If you want to try your hand at making ceviche you can also check out our own ceviche recipe!
Ceviche is Peru's national dish and it pairs perfectly with the country's national drink – the pisco sour! It's made from a base of pisco, a type of brandy from Peru, mixed with freshly squeezed lime juice, syrup, ice, egg white and Angostura bitters. It was invented by a man named Victor Vaughen Morris in the 1920s at his bar, Morris Bar when he decided to try adding egg whites and Angostura bitters to pisco. The pisco sour even has its own national holiday in Peru, the Día Nacional del Pisco Sour (National Pisco Sour Day) which is celebrated on the first Saturday of February.
Arroz de Chaufa
Chinese immigrants first arrived in Peru in 1849, brought over to help work as manual laborers on sugar plantations, railway lines and the like. With them, of course, they brought their own food traditions which were then adapted by local Peruvians and became known as chifa. Arroz de Chaufa is one such dish as it's basically the Peruvian version of fried rice. It's made by frying rice, vegetables and meat in dark soy sauce with plenty of ginger. If you're in Peru and have a hankering for some fried rice, look for arroz de chaufa on the menu!
Tacu tacu is another delicious fusion dish, this one influenced by Africans brought to Peru as slaves. It's made by mixing together leftover beans and rice with other ingredients to make a simple but filling meal. The leftovers are fried in oil with things like egg, meat and spices, then usually formed into a sort of patty shape. The result is toasty, golden and extremely yummy; plus it's a great way to repurpose leftovers!
Another mouth-watering meal we had in Peru was lomo saltado, which also owes much of its deliciousness to Chinese influences on Peruvian cooking. Basically, lomo saltado is the Peruvian adaptation of Chinese stir fry, a delicious and fiery version! It's made with marinated strips of sirloin steak, onions, tomatoes, chilli and soy sauce served with rice or French Fries. Don't be surprised if you see actual flames coming out of the pan while it's being cooked either, the spectacle is half the fun!
Plan your trip to Peru
We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Peru. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go.
How to get there: Most travelers will enter Peru by flying into Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport. The airport is around 18km (11 miles) north from Miraflores, roughly a 35-minute taxi ride. We recommend pre-booking a private airport transfer with an English speaking driver to avoid queues at the airport and start your trip worry-free.
Visa requirements: Travellers from most EU countries, USA, Canada and Australia don't need a visa to stay in Peru for up to 90 days as a tourist. You will, however, need to show that you have a return/onward travel ticket if you arrive by plane and a passport with at least 6 months validity from the day you arrive. Make sure you check your personal visa requirements before planning your trip to Peru.
Travel insurance: We always strongly recommend booking travel insurance for any trip so that you're covered in the event of cancelled flights, theft, injury and other factors beyond your control. We've been using World Nomads Travel Insurance for years and cannot recommend them highly enough for your own trip to Peru. Their coverage is comprehensive and making a claim online, if needed, is super easy.
Vaccinations: All travellers to Peru should make sure they're up to date with routine vaccinations like measles, mumps and chickenpox. Most travellers should also be vaccinated for hepatitis A and typhoid. Some travellers may also need vaccinations for hepatitis B, yellow fever, malaria and rabies, depending on what and where you'll be doing. Check the CDC website for the most up to date info for Peru and also speak to your local doctor or travel nurse before you go.
Currency: The currency used in Peru is called the Peruvian Sol (plural soles). $1 converts to around 3.4 Soles, €1 is about 3.66 Soles and £1 is around 4.19 Soles.
Tipping culture: Tipping is not really expected in Peru, although in places like hotels you may receive slightly better service if you leave a few soles out for the staff. In restaurants, around 10% is the norm for good service and will most likely be automatically added as service charge to your bill. In a local restaurant, the custom is to tip around 1 or 2 soles if service has not been included in the bill.
Accommodation: There are many excellent hotels throughout Peru. We love using Booking.com when organising accommodation because they have an extensive selection and the best prices. They also provide excellent 24/7 customer support when needed and free cancellation for most listings.
Sightseeing and adventure: We've shared a lot of our favourite things to do in Peru above, but we recommend checking out GetYourGuide if you're looking for more fun activities and tours. The booking process is very user friendly and their 24-hour customer support is excellent!
When to visit: The best time to visit Peru, in general, is during the dry season between May and October, especially if you are looking to trek to Machu Picchu. This is the busiest season of course, so things will need to be booked in advance, but trust us, you don't want to try and do the Machu Picchu trek in the wet season.
Safety tips for gay travellers to Peru
Peru's gay rights might not be as advanced as those in Colombia or Argentina, but it's still a safe destination in South America for all travellers, straight or gay. As with all destinations, there will always be some areas you should not visit or local events that may derail your plans. Therefore we've set out some practical safety tips for you to take into account before travelling to Peru:
- Check official government advice before you go. We recommend checking the US Travel Advice for Peru and the UK Foreign Office Travel Advice for Peru websites. It's also a good idea to register your travel plans so the government is able to send you any alerts about recent events or problems.
- Although homosexuality is legal in Peru, avoid public displays of affection in rural areas. In the main touristy areas and big cities, you shouldn't encounter any problems. However, in more remote rural areas we recommend being a bit more cautious and discrete.
- Avoid excess alcohol and drugs. It's far more likely that you will be taken advantage of, scammed or even robbed if you are obviously intoxicated. Sure, have a few drinks and a good time, but if you're going to get wasted, it's probably better to do that in a familiar environment.
- Don't wear valuables in public. Or as they say in Colombia, “No Dar Papaya!” – ie ‘don't show your papayas in public' – got it?! Pickpockets operate everywhere, and the flashier your belongings, the more attractive you are as a target. Therefore it's best to just leave anything valuable in your hotel safe and only take out with you what you need for each day.
- Invest in a good money belt. If you must carry around large amounts of cash, your passport and credit cards, we recommend putting it in a money belt that is hidden under your clothes, out of sight and therefore harder to steal.
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For more inspiration:
- Check out 5 unique gay friendly hotels in Peru
- Learn more about Peru with our 10 interesting facts about Peru you didn't know
- Find out what it's like to grow up gay in Peru in our interview with local boy Aaron
- Check out our gay travel guide to Colombia as well as Peru
- Read about our experience clubbing in the biggest gay club in Latin America – Theatron!
- And don't miss these best gay prides in Latin America either