Safety Tips in Peru

  • Warnings and Dangers
    by ashafruddin
  • A few minutes after we reached our campsite...!
    A few minutes after we reached our...
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Most Viewed Warnings and Dangers in Peru

  • Lima is not Dangerous

    by alohagunnar Written Mar 31, 2009

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The scariest part of Peru is when your in the US reading all those terrible things.
    When you actually arrive the fear fades and you quickly realize it's not dangerous.

    I had a hunch things were not as bad as people said when I exited the Lima Airport and hailed a random taxi along the main street and I didn't even have to haggle as the driver gave me the going rate 15 Soles(US$5) to Lima's historic center, Plaza De Armas, eventhough I was obviously a Yankee from Connecticut. (I recommend staying in the historic center as it is much more interesting than the suburbs.)

    I never had anything stolen and I even brought along a laptop on my two month trip.

    The worst hassle I had during my whole trip was the little kid shoe shiners in Cusco who give you a price and try to jack it up while they are shining your shoes... no need to panick, 1 Sole is fine, be firm, smile, don't get angry and if they don't accept it and complain for more just start walking and they will be happy to accept your 1 Sole.

    Lets put things into perspective here folks, 40,000 people die each year in car accidents in the USA alone, but you never read warnings to stay off the dangerous roads in America.

    Don't be scared of coming to Peru.
    Once you arrive you will feel much safer.

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  • US DoS

    by kursk119 Written Jan 7, 2009

    SAFETY AND SECURITY: The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) terrorist group is still active, and sporadic incidents of Shining Path violence have occurred in the recent past in rural provinces of Ayacucho, Huancavelica, Huanuco, Junin, and San Martin. The Shining Path has previously targeted U.S. interests and there are indications that it continues to do so. Other incidents have included attacks by large, heavily armed groups believed to be members of Shining Path on Peruvian army and police patrols in remote areas, as well as kidnappings of Peruvian and foreign aid workers. None of these incidents occurred in areas normally visited by tourists. Mining prospectors, adventure travelers, and others considering travel to remote areas of Peru are strongly advised to contact the U.S. Embassy in Lima for current security information.

    A peace treaty ending the Peru/Ecuador border conflict was signed on October 26, 1998. The Peruvian government is working to remove mines and unexploded ordnance left over from the conflict, but crossing or approaching the Peru-Ecuador border anywhere except at official checkpoints can still be dangerous. The entire Peru/Colombia border area is very dangerous because of narcotics trafficking and the occasional incursions of armed guerrilla forces from Colombia into Peru’s remote areas.

    Political demonstrations and labor-related strikes and marches regularly occur in urban and some rural areas and sometimes affect major highways. They can also cause serious disruptions to road, air, and rail transportation. Demonstrations are often – but not always – announced in advance. While these activities are usually peaceful, they can escalate into violent confrontations. As a general rule, it is best to avoid large crowds and demonstrations. Visitors are encouraged to keep informed by following the local news and consulting hotel personnel and tour guides.

    The U.S. Embassy restricts travel of U.S. government employees where terrorist groups and narcotics traffickers have recently resorted to violent actions, usually directed against local security forces, local government authorities, and some civilians. Overland travel in or near these areas, particularly at night, is risky.

    Apart from the following list of locations restricted because of the danger from terrorist and narcotics groups, Embassy employees are prohibited from nighttime overland travel anywhere outside major urban areas because of the risks posed from robbery and unsafe road conditions. The only exception is that nighttime travel by commercial bus on the Pan-American Highway is permitted for official or personal travel. Road travel along this route, by means other than commercial bus service, and nighttime travel via commercial bus service along other routes anywhere in Peru, continue to be prohibited for Embassy employees.

    The list below is under continuous review, and travelers may contact the U.S. Embassy for updated information:

    Restricted: Provinces of La Mar and Huanta. Road travel from Ayacucho to San Francisco
    Permitted: Daylight road travel from Ayacucho City to the city of Huanta. Staying within the city limits of Huanta, Daylight road travel from Pisco to Ayacucho City

    Restricted: 20-kilometer swath of territory contiguous to the Apurimac River and Ayacucho Department
    Permitted: Everywhere else including Machu Picchu area and city of Cuzco

    Restricted: Province of Pampas
    Permitted: Train travel from Huancayo to Huancavelica City. Daylight road travel from Pisco to Ayacucho City

    Restricted: Provinces of Maranon, Huamalies, and Leonicio Prado. Road travel from Huánuco City to Tingo Maria City
    Permitted: Flying into and staying within the city limits of Huánuco and Tingo María

    Restricted: Provinces of Satipo and Concepcion east of the Rio Mantaro
    Permitted: Daylight travel from La Merced to Satipo

    Restricted: 20-kilometer swath of territory contiguous to the Colombia border. Travel on the Putumayo River

    San Martín:
    Restricted: Province of Tocache
    Permitted: Flying only into and remaining within the city limits of Tocache

    Restricted: Provinces of Padre Abad and Coronel Portillo west of Pucallpa City and west of Ucayali River; road travel from Pucallpa to Aguaytia and all cities west of Aguaytia
    Permitted: Flying into and remaining within the city limits of Pucallpa and Aguaytía; the province of Coronel Portillo east of the Ucayali River

    Inca Trail hikers are significantly safer if they are part of a guided group trail hike. To protect natural resources along the Inca Trail, the Peruvian government charges fees for hiking the trail and instituted limits on the numbers of hikers permitted on the trail. Hikers in peak season (June–August) are advised to make reservations for the Inca Trail well in advance via a travel agency. Visitors should always register when entering national parks. Hikers should exercise extreme caution in steep or slippery areas, which are neither fenced nor marked. 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.

    Adventure travelers should be aware that rescue capabilities are limited. In recent years, several hikers have died and others have had to be rescued after serious accidents in the Huaraz region of the Cordillera Blanca Mountains, where Peru's highest peaks are located. In late June 2006 three American citizens, along with their Peruvian guides, died in Huaraz province after a serious fall while trekking. Most rescues are carried out on foot because helicopters cannot fly to the high-altitude areas where hikers are stranded. U.S. citizens who plan to visit these mountainous areas in Ancash province should contact the Peruvian National Police's High Mountain Rescue Unit ("USAM") at telephone 51-1-575-4696, 51-1-575-4698, 51-1-575-1555; fax 51-1-575-3036, or e-mail: Some USAM officers read and/or speak English.

    Swimmers, surfers, rafters, and boaters should be aware of strong currents in the Pacific Ocean and fast-moving rivers. Two American citizens and at least three foreign visitors were killed while white water rafting in 2006 and one U.S. citizen died while surfing. Seasonal rains can exacerbate the already dangerous conditions in Peru. Those considering white-water rafting should consult local authorities about recent weather and the impact on white-water rafting conditions. Be cautious in relying on those with a commercial interest in gauging conditions. Companies offering white-water rafting in Peru, their guides, and their equipment may not be held to the same standards as similar companies in the United States. Travelers are advised to seek advice from local residents before swimming in jungle lakes or rivers, where large reptiles or other dangerous creatures may live; caimans, resembling alligators, are found in most jungle areas of Peru. One crocodile species is native to the Tumbes area, but it is limited in numbers and range. All adventure travelers should leave detailed written plans and a timetable with a friend and with local authorities in the region, and they should carry waterproof identification and emergency contact information.

    Travelers to all remote areas should check with local authorities about geographic, climatic, and security conditions.
    For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs web site, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, including the Worldwide Caution, can be found.

    Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
    The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

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    CRIME: Of the approximately 260,000 Americans who visit Peru each year, a small but growing number have been victims of serious crimes. The information below is intended to raise awareness of the potential for crime and suggest measures visitors can take to avoid becoming a victim.

    Violent crime, including carjacking, assault, and armed robbery is common in Lima and other large cities. Resistance to violent crime often provokes greater violence, while victims who do not resist usually do not suffer serious physical harm. "Express kidnappings," in which criminals kidnap victims and seek to obtain funds from their bank accounts via automatic teller machines, occur frequently. Thieves often smash car windows at traffic lights to grab jewelry, purses, backpacks, or other visible items from a car. This type of assault is very common on main roads leading to Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport, specifically along De la Marina and Faucett Avenues and Via de Evitamiento, but it can occur anywhere in congested traffic, particularly in downtown Lima. Travelers are encouraged to put all belongings, including purses, in the trunk of a car or taxi. Passengers who hail taxis on the street have been assaulted. Following the April 2007 armed robbery of a U.S. Embassy employee by a taxi driver, the Embassy’s Regional Security Officer advised all Embassy personnel not to hail taxis on the street.

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    Diarrhea after artichoke salad

    by jumpingnorman Updated Oct 12, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    In response to your question about "what to do with 3 days in Lima", I did visit the Pachacamac which is an interesting archeological site and you can easily reach it from the Lima center. Too bad you have only 3 days, since Cusco would have been nice and of course Machu Picchu --- but just be careful of the salads and water. I tried to avoid everything until I saw an artichoke salad and decided on having it during a dance presentation in one of the cultural restaurants (you can reserve to watch those native dances) and I had diarrhea of extreme magnitude a day later accompanied by headaches, bodyaches and fever. Could it have been the artichokes or something else I ate earlier? But fortunately, I brought the antibiotic ciprofloxacin with me and the symptoms were gone by the time I arrived in USA 20 hours after they started. The antibiotic did abate the illness and shortened the length of my suffering....but enjoy Lima!

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  • B_Lacombe's Profile Photo

    Beware of withdrawing large amount of money

    by B_Lacombe Written Sep 27, 2008

    Many of my friends had been stolen after just withdrawing large amount of money at either at a banks or 'at a cash transfer' site. Basically you are being 'marked' and other people attack you most of the time aiming at the bag or place where the money was put. A friend of mine living in Cusco, did recuperate money from a bank to buy a car, and the only time in her life she was stolen was coming back from that bank. A car passed by and grab her purse. Holding to her purse, she had been pulled on the road for a distance before realizing that there was not point, and let go. My step-father went to get money transfer and was attacked on the street.
    News will report on occasion that people coming from bank were attacked on highways. Last week someone was robed and killed after a bank withdraw. The video from the bank confirmed the marking (half a second clik on a button to mean that the person will be leaving with a lot of money. So just beware. I personnally prefer cash machines while overthere. But again, never alone...

    Sad story but part of a much too comon reality.

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  • iwys's Profile Photo

    Civil unrest

    by iwys Written Aug 8, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    There is every chance that your travels in Peru may be disrupted, as mine were, by the many anti-government strikes and demonstrations. These can lead to airports being closed, roads being blocked and violent confrontations between protesters and riot police, often leading to casualties.

    My first day travelling south of Lima on the Pan-American highway, the bus I was travelling on was surrounded by striking dairy farmers, who blocked the road with rocks and burning tyres. We were stuck, 'hijacked', there for 12 hours until riot police fought the demonstraters, killing one of them, and cleared the road. Two other demonstrators were killed at aother roadblock the same day. Then my flight to Cuzco was cancelled when protesters demonstrating against the government's privatisation of national monuments, closed the airport and all roads into the city for three days.

    On the positive side, the demonstrators don't appear to directly target foreigners. The disputes mainly seem to be between left-wing unions and a right-wing government.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Road Trip
    • Backpacking

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  • RobyG's Profile Photo

    Lima Cuzco by bus?

    by RobyG Written Aug 7, 2008

    If you have time and money try to avoid this long bloody and though route. This is over 16 hrs bus all going and turning around, there is no single straight piece of road as all the way is in bend. Best suggestion: Book a flight and in two hrs you ll be there!

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  • riocopa's Profile Photo

    workout on the stairmaster before the climb

    by riocopa Written May 18, 2008

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    yeah great idea climbing wyanapichuu,this is the mountain behind the city of machu picchu,it is harder than it looks but worth the climb,and when you get to the top WOW the views are spectacular,and be careful of the sign great cave with the arrow pointing,its all the way down the other side and you have to climb way back up almost to the top again to get off the mountain,bring 2 bottels of water at least

    signing into the mountain the easy part the many steep steps at the top
    Related to:
    • Archeology

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  • melosh's Profile Photo

    Altitude acclimatization

    by melosh Updated May 5, 2008

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    There are two concerns related to becoming 'altitude acclimated'. During this period one may experience; 1) the effects of altitude from low pressures and low oxygen to which your body may never fully adjust, and 2) altitude sickness. Shortness of breath upon exertion is often an example of one of the first and does not necessarily represent illness. The immediate response should be to stop the exertion and if the shortness of breath persists seek oxygen and medical evaluation. Very mild symptoms of the second like headaches respond well to rest, light meals, minimal or no alcohol and lots of liquids. Chewing coca leaf is safe, but I suspect the coca tea is better because it combines rest, liquids and the mild stimulant. Aspirin or Tylenol etc. can also help with the symptoms but do not prevent illness.

    The most effective treatment of both mild and severe cases is to descend from the high altitude.
    Diamox, other diuretics, oxygen support, other medications (nifedipine and dexamethosone depending on whether the condition is primarily due to pulmonary or cerebral edema) and simulation of a descent to a lower altitude using a hyperbaric chamber would be used if a descent is not possible.

    Severe altitude sickness is life threatening. Pulmonary edema or cerebral edema can kill in just a few hours. Because cerebral edema and hypoxia can manifest themselves through a loss of common sense judgement and a victum might deny that they are ill. If you notice any strange behavior from your traveling companions insist on their going to the hospital. THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Budget Travel

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  • RobyG's Profile Photo

    Border Between Peru and Ecuador

    by RobyG Written Mar 21, 2008

    If you are leaving Peru and heading to Ecuador I'll suggest to you to hear from all the other travelers who may have done this route already and ask them for fresh and good tips.
    I left Mancora with a minibus (there are severals passing every hour) to Tumbles where there are taxi who brings you to the Peruvian Border for the first stamp. I didn't take the taxi, and this is what I suggest to you, taxi are usually unreliable either for price and safety. Ask to the driver of the minibus to bring you to a bus company in Tumbes where you can purchase a ticket and go directly to Ecuador. That's definitely the best thing to do. You can book in Tumbes a bus directly to Guayaquil, Cuenca or Loja and other cities in Ecuador, so if you book with them, they will take care to let you across the border safely.

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  • Robin922's Profile Photo

    Mother Nature

    by Robin922 Updated Mar 20, 2008

    Almost everyplace in the world has to deal with some type of natural disaster. For some it's storms, here it's earthquakes.

    This is no excuse not to visit, but if you don't live in an earthquake area, you should read up on the subject.
    People who have to deal with hurricanes get several days or warnings, tornados you get minutes, earthquake NO warning. You won't have time to ask, you need to know what to do.

    Many public buildings especially hotels have signs (saying "seismo") telling you where to go. Just as you should always know where the fire escapes are, you should take a minute to learn where to go during an earthquake.

    In reality the odds are very low that there will even be one during your visit, and even lower of a major one. On the other hand 1 minute of research, could save your life.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Business Travel
    • Disabilities

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  • melosh's Profile Photo

    Altitude sickness prevention

    by melosh Updated Feb 29, 2008

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    Prevention begins with a graded (slow) ascent, drinking lots of liquids but not alcohol, avoiding over-exertion, eating easily digested carbohydrate meals and getting adequate rest. People often also advise taking over the counter medications to prevent mild symptoms, but there is no evidence that these drugs help prevent altitude sickness. Because I am a physician, I checked out the ingredients of the altitude lozanges claimed to prevent the sickness in Peru. They had aspirin, an aspirin conjugate and caffeine. Not exactly placebo as they could help with some symptoms, but it is doubtful that they would prevent a true (or serious) case of altitude sickness.
    Another precaution I have read is to ascend to a certain altitude and then descend a ways for a place to spend the night. The idea of arriving in Cuzco, visiting awhile and then going to the Sacred Valley for your first night fits this advice.

    Diamox is a diuretic that has been used both in prevention and treatment of altitude sickness. (Remember the most important treatment is the return to conditions of lower altitude.) Although Diamox has been proven to help as a preventative, it is not without risks of its own. The low risk of getting serious altitude sickness on a trip to Machu Pichu and the dangers of Diamox mean that you should consult with your doctors before using this medication.
    Personally because I thought I had experienced some mild altitude sickness symptoms on trips into Mexico City (it could have been the smog)I took Diamox. I had no problems in Peru with the medication or the altitude. Of course, this does not prove anything. It is difficult to predict who might have trouble. The one case I saw was of a 14 year old Peruvian girl on a bus to Colca Canyon who got ill at 4000 meters. She was back to normal at 3500 meters. Good luck.

    Related to:
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    • Budget Travel

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    by swesn Updated Dec 20, 2007

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Harmless warning: You may inadvertently stumble into er... Ammonia Avenue (to borrow the song title from Alan Parsons Project) or should I say, Avenida de Ammonia - alleyways that turned out to be extremely popular public urinals. ;-) Well, they pee everywhere but these alleys just seemed more aromatic. Run like the wind, dearie!

    Here's a little boy, training young...


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  • Irresponsible Tour Operator - Turismo Alfa

    by dlkweng Written Dec 6, 2007

    My wife and I went to Peru last month for a vacation and our first stop was in Lima. We stayed in Residencial Alfa (Mira Flores) which was nice. Unfortunately, we were conned by their tour operator (namely Turismo Alfa) to take up their offer to arrange everything for us with a perfect itinerary at a high price . We went for it because the operator promised us it would suite our timing and it would be a luxury travelling experience for us especially on a Cama bus (bed). Apparently, it was a pathetic experience for us. Things went wrong immediately. For the high price we paid for, we had been booked on a cheaper bus for our entire journey. We were put on a Semi Cama, non-conditional, dirty and water leaking bus for our journey. We also wasted 2 full days travelling on a bus for a side trip to La Paz (Bolivia). We were supposed to have 1 day in La Paz but ended up we only spent 3 hours there for a 22 hours bus ride (incl. time of return). This is because they continued to put us on cheaper bus which departs at odd hours and required a transit in another town for 2-3 hours (Of course there is a direct bus which only cost slightly more. They just wanna save cost after ripping us off). When we finally got back to Lima to confront the operator, he refused to turn up at his office to meet us. We had to call him instead to voice our complaint. The operator refused to take responsibility and challenge us to report it to our Embassy (which we did). My wife and I would just hope to advise any travellers who happens to stay in Residencial Alfa in Mira Flores not to fall into the trap of TURISMO ALFA if happens you are approached by them with a promising and too good to be true travel package. Good luck. Peru is still a beautiful place to visit despite the bad experience we had with the operator.

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    by christian99 Updated Nov 16, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Peru is in an earthquake zone and tremors are frequent. The last major earthquake occurred on 15 august 2007 in Southern Peru (8.7 on the Richter Scale).

    The rainy season in Peru runs from November to April. Landslides can occur, sometimes causing fatalities and making local travel difficult, particularly in mountainous areas. You are advised to keep up to date with current weather conditions via your local guide, travel agent or tourist information point.

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  • katsiarz's Profile Photo

    Cold and freezing nights!!!!

    by katsiarz Written Sep 13, 2007

    South America was supposed to be a hot spot. However, winters are winters everywhere. Cusco was not an exception. Though I could not complain about the temperature during the July day - usually above + 10, the night temperature disappointed me- usually 0 and below. You can say that 10 is a good temperature for winter and there is no reason to complain. And You are partly right. However, You should consider at least two things in order to understand the previous statement I made.

    First, 0 in the mountain area- and Cusco is 3 500 meters above the see- is not the same as 0 somewhere at the lower height. 0 degrees in the mountain area feels like – 10 degrees. The cold and frost squeeze your bones, so you have to wear tons of warm clothes.

    Second, the temperature outside was much higher than inside home. Hurrying to the Cusco hostel in order to hide from severe cold weather is a mistake. As I found out later, the stone Peruvian houses with cement walls and floors keep the temperature low, which is good in summers, but not in winters. The lack of heating system made everything even worth. I had to sleep in all my clothes sometimes including my hat and my gloves. Terrible experience I should say.

    Related to:
    • School Holidays

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Comments (2)

  • briantravelman's Profile Photo
    Sep 22, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    I was actually considering doing a trip to Peru, but all these Warnings and Dangers scared me off. I didn't know Peru was so dangerous! Holy Hell!
    If they depend on tourism so much, this sort of stuff shouldn't happened.

    • leics's Profile Photo
      Sep 23, 2014 at 11:32 PM

      How exactly do you suggest 'they' prevent altitude sickness or travellers' diarrhoea? The majority of of these tips relate to things which cannot be stopped but about which visitors should be aware and against which they should take proper precautions. Pickpockets and petty thieves exist everywhere in the world, including the US: one just takes sensible precautions to keep one's valuables safe.

  • BethL15's Profile Photo
    Jun 8, 2013 at 11:23 PM

    Re: Peru Rent A Cell

    May 19, 2013, 5:49 AM

    I rented a SIM card. I made one call with it. The charged me 140 euro and do not answer my calls or emails. They are simply THIEVES!

    8. Re: Peru Rent A Cell
    Jun 09, 2013, 2:08 AM

    Following up on my previous post; Rent-a-Cell has apparently noticed me since I posted this complaint and they called me long distance to say that they would return my money. Of course that was two weeks ago and I have not heard from them since. So they are still THIEVES. Do not do any business with Rent-a-Cell at the Chavez airport.

Peru Warnings and Dangers

Reviews and photos of Peru warnings and dangers posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Peru sightseeing.
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