Safety and security
There are high levels of serious crime in Peru so be vigilant about your personal safety and always take sensible precautions.
Violent crime, including sexual assault, armed robbery, muggings and car-jackings, is a problem, particularly in the cities of Lima, Cusco and Arequipa.
There have been a number of recent cases of sexual assault against female travellers including in the areas of Cusco and Arequipa. Female travellers should take particular care should be taken at bus terminals and when taking taxis. Isolated areas should be avoided, particularly after dark. Always buy your own drinks and keep them in your sight at all times to make sure they can’t be spiked by date rape or other drugs.
Demonstrations and unrest
The security situation can deteriorate quickly in Peru and dangerous incidents can happen. Always keep yourself informed of what’s going on around you by monitoring local media and staying in contact with your hotel or tour organiser.
Roadblocks can appear on main roads and can cause traffic disruptions. Don’t try to cross blockades, even if they appear unattended.
We advise against all travel to the border area between Peru and Colombia, which is heavily patrolled and monitored by the Peruvian army for armed narcotics gangs and other illegal armed groups. Isolated areas in the Southern Highlands including San Martin, Huanuco, Pasco, Junin, Ucayali, Huancavelica, Ayacucho and Apurimac may still harbour sympathisers of the Shining Path rebel group. We advise you to carefully consider your need to travel to these regions.
States of Emergency
States of Emergency declared many years ago as well as those more recently declared are in force throughout many regions of Peru. A State of Emergency declared for security reasons gives the armed forces responsibility for law and order. A State of Emergency declared for natural disasters or health alerts means that the standard service providers in the region cannot guarantee normal services and frequently need help from central government. However, in these cases the armed forces don’t take responsibility for law and order.
If you’re travelling overland to Ecuador or in the region of the Peru-Ecuador border, especially the Cordillera del Cóndor region, you should only use official border crossings due to the presence of unexploded ordnance and land mines. If you decide to travel to these areas, don’t stray off main routes and always check with your local contact or tour operator before travelling.
There is a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks in Peru, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
There are also ongoing concerns about a possible resurgence of terrorist activity by subversive groups, including remnants of the Shining Path. Isolated terrorist incidents have taken place in remote areas and cities in the departments of Puno, Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad, Junín, Ayacucho, Cusco, Ucayali, San Martín, Huanuco, Huancavelica and Apurímac. These were mostly robberies, temporary takeovers of small villages and, very occasionally, violence (including bombings) or threats of violence against security forces or local community figures. Overland travel in these regions can be dangerous.
Unlicensed taxi operators
There have been increased reports of serious crimes, including robbery, assault and rape, against travellers using unlicensed taxi operators, particularly in Lima and Cusco. Travellers are often approached by thieves masquerading as taxi drivers or tour operators.
If you’re arriving at Lima's international airport, we advise you to arrange your transport at taxi counters within the international terminal or to book transport in advance through your hotel. Bogus taxi drivers and thieves pretending to be tour operators sometimes approach arriving passengers. You should also get help from staff at hotels, hostels, restaurants or places of entertainment to book a licensed taxi or tour.
There have been assaults on inter-provincial buses in rural areas, which have included the rape of female passengers and crew. Police report that most of the crimes against bus passengers happen between the hours of 10pm and 5am, so if you choose to travel by long-distance bus at night, be vigilant and make sure you keep your valuables (passport, money, credit cards, etc.) in a safe place if you intend to sleep.
Tourists have had money taken from their accounts after using ATM machines, particularly in the Cusco area so take the same precautions when using these machines in Peru as you would in Ireland. Unlike in Ireland, ATM machines in Peru don’t automatically release your credit or debit card when you get your money. You have to push a button to request its return and remember to do this when you finish your transaction. Many ATMs in main towns have instructions in English. Be alert to the possibility of being passed counterfeit US dollars or local currency, especially from street money changers.
Lost or stolen passports
If your passport is lost or stolen, getting a replacement can take up to three weeks so keep your travel documents secure at all times. So please take extreme care with your passport and other personal documentation. Getting a replacement passport will be easier if you are able to provide a copy of the lost or stolen one, so keep photocopies of your passport.
If your passport is lost or stolen, an Andean immigration card (see entry requirements section for more information) and a new entry stamp on the replacement passport must be processed at the Peruvian Immigration Office in Lima:
Dirección General de Migraciones y Naturalización (DIGEMIN)
Address: Prolongación Av. España 734, Breña, Lima
Telephone (from Lima): 433 0789
Business hours: Monday to Friday from 08:00-12:00
If you’re planning to drive in Peru, be extremely careful. Road safety standards are low, particularly outside towns and cities. Accidents are frequent and are often caused by poor driving, badly maintained vehicles and inadequate lighting. If you want to drive:
- Bring your full Irish driving licence and your international driving permit and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
- Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights
- Avoid travel by road outside major cities after dark.
Hiring a vehicle
If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Bus crashes are commonplace, especially at night and inter-city bus crashes have resulted in loss of life and serious injury. You should only use reputable transport companies for travel between the major tourist centres and always wear a seat belt when travelling by inter-city bus. Where possible avoid overnight travel, especially in mountainous and remote regions. Make enquiries when planning long bus journeys and where possible try to take a bus which operates using two crews, allowing drivers an opportunity to rest and reducing the risk of accidents caused by driver fatigue.
There have been a number of fatal accidents and emergencies, including tourists, involving small aircraft flying over the Nazca Lines over many years. Don’t assume that operators are following proper safety and maintenance standards.
Tourists have been injured while travelling in recreational sand buggies, particularly in the sand dunes around Ica and Lake Huacachina. These buggies are unregulated and the drivers take no responsibility for the welfare of their passengers.
If you’re hiking on the Inca Trail go with a guided group. To protect the trail there is a government fee and restrictions on numbers. During the high season (June–August) you should make reservations with a travel agency well in advance. Always register when entering national parks and be particularly careful in steep or slippery areas which are unfenced or unmarked. Several climbers have died or suffered serious injuries after falling while climbing Huayna Picchu, a peak near Machu Picchu. Only very basic medical assistance is available at Machu Picchu.
Travel in groups when walking along the banks of Lake Titicaca. There have been incidents of armed robberies against travellers walking on their own. Take care at all times and contact the local tourist information centre for advice about known safe zones. Local authorities advise against travelling alone at night in the Desaguadero area on the Peru-Bolivia border at the southern end of Lake Titicaca.
Shamans and other individuals offer ‘spiritual cleansing’ to tourists in the Amazon area and Cusco. This service is often referred to as Ayahuasca or San Pedro and typically involves the consumption of a brew containing dimethyltryptamine (DMT), an hallucinogenic drug. Consumption of this brew is not regulated and its interaction with existing medical conditions isn’t well understood. People have suffered serious illnesses and in some cases death after participating in these ceremonies. Spiritual cleansing retreats are usually some distance from populated areas making it difficult to access medical attention for those who need it.
Thu, 12 May 2016 15:00:43 BST