Peru Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Peru
How safe is Peru?
Threat level: Medium-High
The general travel advice for Peru is to remain vigilant, the country does have an issue of petty crime driven by poverty.
General crime is an issue in the main cities of Peru, especially mugging and other types of street crimes. Women travellers should take great care; there have been a number of incidents of rape of tourists especially in the Cusco route Huanchaco-Trujillo in Northern Peru and Arequipa areas. Be extra cautious when drinking in clubs and pubs as well as taking solo taxis back to your accommodation as these can leave you vulnerable.
All travellers should be aware of their surroundings at all times and take basic safety precautions. You should be wary of bogus taxi drivers operating around the Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport and only use official taxis booked prior to your arrival or through the airport.
In 2018, Peru declared a border emergency after a surge Venezuelan Migration surge, Peru also declared a state of emergency in the regions of Cusco, Ayacucho, Huancavelica and Junín due to violence and demonstrations following ongoing strikes, earlier in the year.
Visitors to Peru are advised that the country is one of the largest producers of cocaine in the world and as such, you should remain vigilant and extra cautious when travelling near to any areas where coca is cultivated and processed.
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Some military personnel have been killed when demonstrations turned violent in the VRAEM (Valley of the Rivers Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro) area. The area suffers from extreme poverty and is one of the largest producers of coca - a key ingredient needed to make cocaine. Gang activity and clashes between them and authorities is rife and tourists are advised to avoid this area at all times.
There is some threat of terror-related activity in Peru. The country has had turbulent past with internal conflict since a military coup in 1968. Since 1980 the Communist Party of Peru, known as “Shining Path” (Sendero Luminoso) has waged a guerrilla war in the country. According to US intelligence, Shining Path are mostly active in the central Peru areas of Alto Huallaga, Aguaytia and Apurimac-Ene VRAE river basins, so remain vigilant at all times.
There have been reports of ambushes, robberies, kidnappings, extortion, raids and temporary takeovers of small villages and attacks by the Shining Path. One of the recent notable Shining Path attacks was in December 2014 when they attacked an army base in Huanta province. While Shining Path has almost always kept their attacks to “legitimate” military or government targets, tourist and visitors could be caught up in an attack or its aftermath. In 2003 the group kidnapped 68 employees of an Argentine company that has been working on a gas pipeline in Ayacucho. After two days and a ransom being paid the hostages were released unharmed.
Demonstrations do occur frequently and can turn dangerous. Members of the military have been known to be killed when these protests turn violent; if you find yourself caught up in a large gathering that could turn into a demonstration, leave as soon as it is safe to do so.
Peru's International Relations
Relations have improved between Peru and Chile, and Peru holds positive ongoing economic relations with mainly Australia and Pakistan.
It has been a member of the UN since 1949 and with this, has made improvements to the efforts to limit the cocaine trade originating from its country. Efforts have been mildly successful but the country still has a long way to go before resolving this issue.
Travelling around Peru
While travelling by car, keep your doors locked and windows shut at all times. Belongings should be kept out of sight in the boot of the vehicle and avoid all travel after dark.
Travel in Peru can be hazardous in rural areas with very poor road conditions. Visitors should spend some time planning before embarking on a long journey and ensure that they have a sufficient amount of supplies including enough fuel, food and water for the duration of the trip.
Extreme weather and geological events can also cause issues and disruption to travel plans.
There are travel advisories in place restricting non-essential travel, including the border areas between Colombia and Ecuador due to the threat of armed attacks from guerrilla forces and drug trafficking operations known in the area.
A US or UK/EU driving licence can be used to hire vehicles for periods of up to a year. After that an International Driving Permit is required. Demonstrations and road blocks can create issues with local services, closure of businesses and disrupt transport links. Please check news for the area before beginning your journey and avoid politically heated times.
Earthquakes in Peru
Peru suffers from regular earthquakes of magnitude 4-5 and has a history of large earthquakes, the last one of note being the 8.0 magnitude 2007 Peru earthquake that killed over 500 people. 1868 saw a major 9.0 magnitude earthquake that killed an estimated 25,000 people. You should ensure that you are familiar with what to do if you are caught in an earthquake or tsunami.
Extreme weather in Peru
There is also like most other countries in the region heavy rains between November to April, which can cause landslides and flooding.
Emergency services in Peru:
Police emergency: 105
Tourist Police: +51 1 225 8698, 225 8699 or 476 9882 (Lima Tourist Police Headquarters)
Tourist Police: +51 5 423 9888 (Arequipa)
Tourist Police: +51 4 482 3438 (Cajamarca)
Tourist Police: +51 7 422 7615 or 423 5181 (Chiclayo)
Tourist Police: +51 8 422 1961 (Cuzco)
Tourist Police: +51 4 472 1341 or 472 1592 (Huaraz)
Tourist Police: +51 3 422 4553 (Ica)
Tourist Police: +51 9 423 7067 (Iquitos)
Tourist Police: +51 3 452 2105 (Nazca)
Tourist Police: +51 5 435 7100 (Puno)
Tourist Police: +51 4 424 3758 or 423 3181 (Trujillo)
Fire emergency: 116
Medical emergency: 116
Medical emergency: 106 (SAMU Private Ambulance)
Medical emergency: 117 (STAE Private Ambulance)
Civil Defense emergency: 119 (Earthquake or other natural disasters)
Religion: Christianity (Roman Catholic)
Currency: Nuevo sol
Time now in Lima:
Consular information for Peru
U.S. Embassy Lima
Avenida La Encalada cdra. 17 s/n,
Telephone: +51 1 618 2000
British Embassy Lima
Torre Parque Mar (22nd Floor),
Av Jose Larco 130,
Telephone: +51 1 618 2000
Visa requirements for Peru
Most foreign nationals, including UK and US citizens are able to enter Peru for tourist purposes visa free for a period of up to 183 days. Further advice can be found here: Visa advice Peru
If you are entering the country by land from either Ecuador or Bolivia, it is essential that your passport is stamped with a Peruvian entry stamp upon arrival. Failure to obtain one of these will cause you a lot of difficulty when attempting to leave and could result in permanent expulsion from Peru. You may face further difficulties leaving the country if your passport does not contain an exit stamp from the last country visited, so check your passport for this before entering Peru. If you entered the country without an entry stamp, you must apply for a new entry stamp at the nearest immigration office.
Health Care and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to Peru are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers get Tetanus and Hepatitis A vaccinations. You may also want to consider getting vaccination against Yellow Fever.
Yellow fever vaccination is recommended for travellers older than 9 months who are likely to visit the following areas in Peru: the Regions of Amazonas, Loreto, Madre de Dios, San Martin, Ucayali, Puno, Cuzco; Junín, Pasco and Huánuco and designated areas of the following Regions far-north of Apurimac; far northern Huancavelica; far-north-eastern Ancash; eastern La Libertad; northern and eastern Cajamarca; northern and north-eastern Ayacucho, and eastern Piura. You should check with your local health professional prior to your departure as the yellow fever vaccine is not suitable for all travellers.
Zika Virus and the viral illness Dengue Fever have been reported in Peru, both of which are transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. There is no vaccine and prevention is through avoidance of mosquito bites by wearing appropriate clothing and using mosquito nets when sleeping.
Personal hygiene must be paramount, the local water supply avoided at all costs and bottled water inspected prior to consumption. There have been a number of cases of bottled water being refilled with tap water and re-sold.