SAFETY TIPS

SAFETY AND SECURITY

STATE OF EMERGENCY

On February 19, 2019, the Peruvian Government declared a state of emergency in the province of Madre de Dios due to an ongoing security operation against illegal gold mining in the region. The affected districts are:

  • Huepetuhe
  • Inambari
  • Laberinto
  • Las Piedras
  • Madre de Dios
  • Tambopata

Consequently, some civil rights have been suspended.

  • Be cautious if you are in this region
  • Expect a high security presence
  • Allow extra time to reach your destination

BORDER AREA WITH COLOMBIA

Criminal activity related to narcotics trafficking and occasional incursions by armed guerrilla forces from Colombia at Cordillera del Cóndor, Peru, pose a threat to personal security.

Risk level(s)

BORDER AREA WITH ECUADOR

Cross the Peru–Ecuador border at official crossing points only due to the presence of landmines along the border.

Basic services in the Tumbes district have become increasingly difficult to access due to an increased number of migrants entering Peru from the North land border with Ecuador. The increased population has limited the provision of these services.

Risk level(s)

VALLE DE LOS RÍOS APURÍMAC, ENE Y MANTARO (VRAEM)

DRUG TRAFFICKING

Cocaine production and trafficking occurs inVRAEM. Travel is particularly dangerous in areas where there is coca cultivation and processing.

DOMESTIC TERRORISM

Incidents of domestic terrorism have occurred in VRAEM, particularly the region where the Apurímac, Ayacucho, Cuzco and Junín departments meet.

Risk level(s)

CRIME

Crime rates are high throughout the country.

  • Maintain a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness, especially at night
  • Avoid walking in deserted or under-populated areas
  • Travel in groups whenever possible

PETTY CRIME

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs, particularly in Lima, in other cities and even in crowded, public areas. Theft occurs frequently in hotels, restaurants, bus stations and airports, on intercity buses and microbuses and while hailing taxis.

  • Avoid wearing expensive watches and jewelry, or showing signs of affluence
  • Ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
  • Never leave bags unattended

Pickpockets and bag snatchers may work in pairs or groups and employ a variety of ruses to divert their victim’s attention. A common scam involves spraying a substance on victims and then robbing them while pretending to help clean the stain, or distracting the victim by asking questions while another person perpetrates the theft. In some cases, thieves on motorcycles will snatch purses, backpacks or cellular phones. 

VIOLENT CRIME

Violent crime occurs. Incidents have included:

  • robberies
  • kidnappings
  • extortion

ARMED ROBBERY

Armed robberies are on the rise. While most victims are not physically injured, criminals will not hesitate to use force when opposed.

  • If you are robbed, hand over your cash, electronic devices and valuables without resistance
  • Be particularly vigilant after visiting a bank, an ATM or a change bureau, as thieves may follow and rob victims.
  • Use ATMs inside banks and during regular hours of service, when guards are on duty

ASSAULT

Assaults have occurred along the Inca Trail and in the Huaraz region of the Cordillera Blanca mountains. Hiking in these regions should be done in groups.

KIDNAPPING

Express kidnappings involving tourists have occurred. Victims are usually abducted for a few hours and forced to withdraw money from ATMs for their release. Most express kidnappings take place at night, but incidents also occur during daylight hours. Incidents often involve criminals posing as taxi drivers, or taxi drivers working for organized gangs. Virtual kidnappings occur throughout the country. Criminals use stolen cellphones to contact family members claiming to have kidnapped the owner of the phone and then ask for ransom money.

  • Be suspicious of strangers approaching you on the street
  • Never leave your cellphone unattended
  • Be cautious when using cellphones and smart devices in public as they are often targeted by thieves, especially while people are using them
  • Ensure your phone is password protected

DOMESTIC TERRORISM

Incidents of domestic terrorism occur, particularly in remote jungle areas such as:

  • parts of the Huancavelica and Ucayali departments
  •  the Upper Huallaga river valley in the Huánuco and San Martín departments.

Incidents have included:

  • raids
  • temporary ambushes of small villages
  • bombings or threats of violence against local security forces or community figures

Overland travel in these regions is unsafe.

FRAUD

COUNTERFEIT CURRENCY

Counterfeit currency in both sol and U.S. dollars is a growing and serious problem. Counterfeit bills are widely distributed, including by banks, casinos and local stores.

  • Avoid moneychangers on the street, as they may carry counterfeit currency or work with pickpockets.

CREDIT CARD FRAUD

Credit card and ATM fraud occurs. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:

  • pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
  • use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
  • avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
  • cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
  • check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements

SCAMS

Criminals posing as taxi drivers often rob tourists along the route to and from Lima’s Jorge Chávez International Airport.

  • Use a secure taxi service when arriving at and leaving the airport
  • Exercise caution en route to and from your hotel
  • Find information on registered taxi companies from the Lima Airport Partners website

Thieves also pose as police officers to gain the confidence and cooperation of their potential victims.

  • If you are stopped by local authorities, ask to see official identification and record the officer’s name, badge number and district.
  • For traffic violations, request that the officer issue you a fine in writing, which is payable at a later date.
  • You should also note the location of the arrest.

Legitimate police officers have also extorted money in exchange for dismissing minor offences or traffic violations. They have also stolen money and valuables during searches.

  • If you are searched, even at the airport, ensure you have all your belongings before leaving

If you are planning to participate in volunteer activities in Peru, ensure that the company organizing your trip is legitimate. Make sure your accommodations and return arrangements are secure before travelling.

  • More about overseas fraud
  • More about volunteering abroad

SPIKED FOOD AND DRINKS

Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as the items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

WOMEN’S SAFETY

Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse. Incidents of sexual assault, including rape, occur throughout the country, particularly in tourist destinations. In some cases, tour guides have been implicated.

  • Do not travel alone, especially after dark.
  • Remain particularly vigilant at bus terminals and in taxis.
  • Be careful when dealing with strangers or recent acquaintances, especially regarding the acceptance of rides or other invitations.
  • For information about tours and tourist assistance and information, contact iPeru.

Women reporting sexual assault should contact police immediately. Medical examinations at identified clinics are part of the investigation process. Women who have delayed reporting may experience more scrutiny by local authorities.

Safe-travel guide for women

DEMONSTRATIONS AND CIVIL UNREST

Demonstrations take place regularly throughout the country. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. Police may use tear gas or other methods to disperse crowds.

Demonstrations can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Strikes and roadblocks are frequent and may cause the interruption of services, including public transit, and the closure of businesses and government offices. Impromptu road blocks may also affect travel within southern Peru, especially travel to and from the cities of Arequipa, Cuzco and Puno. Protests around Puno can sometimes result in the closure of the border crossing with Bolivia. Protestors may block rivers essential for transportation in some remote regions, including the Manu region of Madre de Dios, resulting in the temporary detainment of tourists.

DEMONSTRATIONS IN AREQUIPA REGION

There have been demonstrations against the Tía María Mining Project in Valle de Tambo, Arequipa, since July 2019. These protests led to clashes between the demonstrators and the security forces.

Although the situation has since returned to normal, it remains unpredictable. Demonstrations may occur at any time.

  • Monitor local media to stay informed on ongoing demonstrations
  • Contact iPeru for the latest developments

Participating in demonstrations may lead to detention or even deportation by Peruvian authorities.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
  • Confirm your travel plans with your travel agency or tour operator, and ensure they have made appropriate security arrangements.
  • Contact iPeru by phone or email for the latest developments.

More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)

ADVENTURE TOURISM

Each year, several hikers and climbers are victims of serious, sometimes fatal, accidents in the Andes, including at the Huayna Picchu peak near Machu Picchu, and the Cordillera Blanca region in Huaraz, where Peru’s highest peaks are located. Trails, such as those found in Ollantaytambo, may be poorly marked. Hikers have become lost. Be aware that steep or slippery areas are neither fenced nor marked.

If you intend to hike, trek or climb:

  • never do so alone and always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
  • Exercise extreme caution while climbing, as local authorities have limited rescue capabilities
  • buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
  • ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
  • ensure that you’re properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
  • inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back to camp
  • know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal
  • obtain detailed information on trekking routes or ski slopes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails or slopes

Remote areas of Peru, where popular jungle excursions operate, may not have cellphone coverage or internet access.

  • Always leave the contact information of tour operator with your family and friends

USEFUL LINKS

  • iPerú‎ – Peruvian government’s Tourist Information and Assistance‎
  • APOTUR – Asociación Peruana de Operadores de Turismo Receptivo e Interno
  • APAVIT – Asociación Peruana de Agencias de Viaje y Turismo
  • APTAE – Asociación Peruana de Turismo de Aventura, Ecoturismo y Turismo Espacializado

WATER SAFETY

There have been several recent white-water rafting accidents and drownings involving tourists, particularly on the Urubamba River near Cuzco. Companies offering white-water rafting, their guides and their equipment may not be held to the same standards as similar companies in Canada. Rescue services may not be consistent with international standards.

Coastal waters can be dangerous. Strong currents exist in the Pacific Ocean and in rivers. Life guards are not always present or properly trained at beaches.

Swimming in jungle lakes and rivers can be dangerous due to the presence of parasites and wildlife.

Seek advice and consult residents and local authorities about conditions before swimming, surfing or participating in other aquatic activities.

Water safety abroad

AYAHUASCA CEREMONIES

Spiritual cleansing and ayahuasca ceremonies, offered by shamans and other individuals, involve consuming substances that can cause medical complications and severely impair cognitive and physical abilities. Exposure to these substances has led to serious illness, injury, assault and even the death of several tourists.

Ceremonies often take place in remote areas with no access to medical or mental health facilities or resources and limited communication with local authorities. Most of the time, the facilities lack basic first aid or emergency plans for those suffering from physical or psychological illness from these ceremonies. Ayahuasca ceremonies are not regulated and there is no way to assess the safety of any of the services, the operators or the shamans.

ROAD SAFETY

Road conditions and road safety are poor throughout the country. Drivers are extremely aggressive, and they do not respect traffic laws. Mountainous roads can be particularly dangerous, especially at night. Poor signage also poses a hazard. Accidents causing fatalities are common.

Regular police spot checks can cause traffic delays.

When renting a vehicle, always purchase insurance. Most drivers in Peru have only the minimum required car insurance, which may not adequately cover accidents.

Vehicles are a target for robbery. Criminals have thrown objects in front of oncoming traffic in the hope that cars will stop. If this occurs and you need to stop, do so only in a safe location, such as a gas station.

  • While travelling by car, keep your doors locked and windows shut at all times
  • Keep your personal belongings in the trunk of the vehicle, as criminals have been known to shatter windows to “smash and grab” and to attempt entry when they see travel bags or merchandise
  • Avoid travelling by road outside of major cities after dark, when there is a higher risk of robbery

MARINE TRANSPORTATION

Thefts on boats by river pirates occur along rivers in the Amazon jungle.

Mariners should take appropriate precautions.

Live piracy report – International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

BUSES

Many of the buses and combis in Lima are old, poorly maintained and overcrowded. Drivers of these vehicles tend to dominate the roads and disregard other drivers or pedestrians.

Intercity bus travel can be dangerous due to the risk of bus accidents, which are usually caused by excessive speed, poor vehicle maintenance and driver fatigue. Armed gangs have been known to stop buses to rob travellers, especially at night. Incidents of assaults on buses have also been reported.

  • Only use reputable transportation companies
  • Contact your travel agency for a list of recommended intercity bus companies

The Peruvian Ministry of Transportation publishes, in Spanish only, a list of those bus companies with the highest rates of involvement in fatal or serious injury traffic accidents.

TAXIS

Licensed taxis are not metered. Taxi drivers sometimes do not provide change or will continue to drive until they can obtain change.

  • Do not hail taxis on the street
  • Reserve a taxi by calling a reputable taxi company or use taxi services associated with major hotels
  • Agree to a fare prior to departure and do not pay until you have reached your destination
  • Try to carry the exact fare

AIR TRAVEL

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

General information about foreign domestic airlines