Safety and security
Political protests in Peru can lead to road blockades, suspension of train services, disruption in immigration services of land borders and airport closures - often without prior notice or estimated reopening timelines. Protests can be unpredictable, can include violence, and can spread and escalate quickly. Clashes between protestors and the security forces have resulted in casualties in the past, which included significant violent civil unrest in the Puno and Apurimac regions in December 2022 and January 2023. Local police and emergency services do not have the same capacity to respond to traveller emergencies in these regions as elsewhere in Peru.
Where protests or criminal activity result in travel disruption or damage to infrastructure, the British Government’s ability to provide consular support will be limited, as may that of local authorities, especially if infrastructure such as airports, roads and railroads are affected.
In Lima protests often have a focus in the historic centre, where access can be restricted, but can also spread to other areas. Other regions that have seen recent protests include Cusco, Arequipa and Puno.
Foreign nationals in Peru cannot participate in political activities by law, including in demonstrations against the government.
You should be especially vigilant and take particular care to avoid all areas of large gatherings, demonstrations and protests. If possible, you should remain in a safe place, follow the authorities’ advice, and monitor local media, including social media channels. Be wary of unverified, unofficial information.
Travellers arriving in Peru should be aware that travel to some parts of the country or the return to Lima could be affected by protests and should be prepared for delays or disruption. You should ensure you travel with a sufficient supply of food, water, cash in local currency and personal medication, and allow extra time to reach your destination. You should liaise with your local airline, hotel or tour operator for further advice and assistance that they may provide to mitigate disruption, and for information on alternate arrangements that may need to be made for onward travel, including bus and rail journeys.
Due to protests, the following States of Emergency are in place, which amongst other things allow the military forces to assist the local police and authorities in maintaining law and order:
a 30-day extension to the State of Emergency in Pataz province in La Libertad region starting on 16 November 2023
a 60-day extension to the State of Emergency on the Southern Apurimac-Cusco-Arequipa road corridor starting on 12 October 2023
For more information on states of emergency, please see the El Peruano official newspaper.
Protests may lead to airports suspending operations. For information on airport operations, please visit the Lima airport website.
Some train services in the South, including trains to or from Machu Picchu, are occasionally temporarily suspended as a precautionary measure, or disrupted, due to protests. Visitors should check with travel providers in advance of travelling.
In general, local protests are common, can start with very little notice, and can turn violent quickly, potentially causing lengthy disruption to travel and services. Protests can disrupt road, rail, river and air travel and affect tourist areas like Lima, Ica, Cusco, Arequipa, Puno, Puerto Maldonado and Iquitos. Protests in Puno can result in the closure of the border crossing with Bolivia, including Lake Titicaca. Protests in Machu Picchu can result in the suspension of train and bus services. Protests in the centre of Lima can disrupt access to the historical centre and to some public offices. Protests in Ica can result in the blockade of Panamericana highway. Protestors may also block rivers essential for transportation in some remote regions, including the Manu region of Madre de Dios and in the region of Iquitos. Protests in the Amazon area can result in the disruption of tour vessels in remote areas where access to food and water can be limited and evacuations are only possible by boat. This may result in the temporary detainment of tourists.
Local groups often announce strike action with little or no notice. These are normally around mining interests and may quickly spill over from one region to another. These demonstrations can become violent and may lead to roadblocks. You should avoid large gatherings and follow the advice of local authorities.
On 19 November 2023 a 60-day state of emergency for security reasons was declared in San Martin de Porres and San Juan de Lurigancho districts in Lima region, and in the districts of Sullana, Bellavista, Marcavelica, Salitral, Querecotillo, Ignacio Escudero and Miguel Checa in Sullana province, Piura region.
On 9 October 2023 a 60-day state of emergency for security reasons was declared in Cercado de Lima (which includes Lima historical centre) and Lince districts in Lima region.
The states of emergency reflect a government focus on ensuring security and you should ensure you follow relevant instructions from the authorities. For more information please visit El Peruano newspaper (in Spanish).
Street crime, including muggings and thefts, is a significant problem in Lima, Cusco, Arequipa and other major cities. Be vigilant in public places and when withdrawing cash from ATMs. Avoid walking alone in quiet areas or at night.
There have been a number of thefts at gunpoint affecting foreign nationals, including British tourists and residents. These have happened in tourist areas of Miraflores and Barranco, including outside hotels popular with tourists, during the day and at night. In early 2019 there were a small number of robberies in and around luxury lodges near Puerto Maldonado city in the Madre de Dios region, including on tour buses. Some of these have been at gunpoint and involved British tourists. As with travel across the country, you should remain aware of your surroundings and avoid wearing or displaying expensive items. In the event of a robbery, do not attempt to resist attackers or take any action that puts you at greater risk. Report the matter to local police as soon as possible. If the incident takes place in a lodge or hotel, staff will be able to assist.
Passport theft is also common on inter-city buses and at bus stations. Keep your passport with you at all times during your bus journey and take particular care of valuables if you travel on a bus at night. Provincial and inter-city buses are sometimes held up and the passengers robbed.
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching is common, and occurs even in crowded, public areas. Pickpockets and bag snatchers may work in pairs or groups and employ a variety of ruses to divert their victim’s attention.
- Avoid wearing expensive watches and jewellery, or showing signs of affluence.
- Ensure that your belongings are secure at all times.
- Never leave bags unattended.
Tourists have been targeted and robbed by bogus taxi drivers. Do not hail a taxi on the street. Use licensed telephone or app-based taxi services whenever possible, or ask your hotel to book one for you. Be particularly careful when arriving at Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima and at bus terminals. Bogus taxi drivers and thieves pretending to be tour operators sometimes approach arriving passengers. At the airport, use one of the official taxi companies located at desks directly outside the arrival hall. Further details are on the Lima Airport Partners website. At bus terminals, use one of the taxis registered with them. Cars travelling from Lima city to the airport have been targeted by thieves when diverted off the main route by GPS navigation applications.
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 organised gangs. Do not attempt to resist attackers or take any action that puts you at greater risk. Report the matter to local police as soon as possible. Fake kidnappings occur throughout the country. Criminals use stolen cell-phones to contact family members claiming to have kidnapped the owner of the phone and then ask for ransom money.
There have been a number of cases of rape, mostly in the Cusco and Arequipa areas. Be alert to the use of ‘date rape’ and other drugs. Buy your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times. If you’re in a bar and don’t feel well, try to seek help from people you know. Unscrupulous tour agents have targeted lone young female travellers in the Cusco area.
If you’re a victim of crime, try to report it to the police as soon as possible so they can start investigations.
The army has been called in to support the police tackle crime in Lima and Callao. You should follow instructions given to you by military, police or other officials.
The website of the Peruvian Ministry of Tourism has useful information for tourists and visitors in English, and its local tourist Information and Assistance service - telephone +51 1 574 8000 (24 hours a day) can handle enquiries in English. On the Ministry of Tourism website you will also find information about the government offices that help tourists around the country. The Tourist Protection Network has launched a new 24/7 free line to contact the Tourist Police on 0800 22221. They can handle enquiries in English.
Drugs, organised crime and terrorism are inextricably linked. There is a higher risk to your safety in regions where there is intensive coca cultivation and processing, including the border areas with Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil and the Valley of Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro rivers (VRAEM). Remnants of the Shining Path terrorist group in the VRAEM continue to conduct occasional ambushes and attacks mainly targeting the police, military forces and local authorities. Seek local advice about dangerous areas and be alert to possible threats. Take official warnings seriously, follow the advice of local authorities, and report any suspicious activity or items to the police. If there’s an attack, leave the area as soon as it’s safe. Avoid areas affected in case of secondary attacks.
Where there are greater security concerns or local authorities currently have limited presence, including in the VRAEM and the border areas with Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil, the British Government will have limited ability to offer assistance, and may not have the ability to provide emergency or consular support. While we will liaise with local authorities to request assistance, their ability to respond may also be very limited.
Illegal drug use and drugs trafficking in Peru is subject to severe punishment, with lengthy jail sentences. Prison conditions in Peru are extremely poor and the Embassy cannot intervene in police or judicial matters, nor is it able to secure more favourable conditions for those in detention.
A state of emergency for security reasons is in force in some districts of Ayacucho, Huancavelica, Junin, Madre de Dios and Cusco regions (Cusco city, Machu Picchu and Manu Park are not affected). A 60-day extension to the State of Emergency in Putumayo and Mariscal Ramon Castilla provinces in Loreto region has been declared starting on 16 October 2023. For further information you should contact Iperu. If you do decide to visit any area under a state of emergency you should follow instructions given to you by military, police or other officials.
Unregulated tour services
If you’re planning to undertake adventure activities like canopy/zipline, bungee jumping, paragliding, kayaking, rock climbing, sand buggies, surfing etc, the agency providing the service must have a licence for these activities. For more information, contact the Ministry of Tourism, as they can provide you with updated information on tour and sport services. You should also check with companies for their health and safety precautions.
We are aware of unregulated surfboard rentals at the beaches of Miraflores, that do not operate with the Municipality permission. To our knowledge, there is no life-guard provision.
Be especially alert to the local security situation in the border areas with Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil, where there is a higher risk to your safety due to intensive coca cultivation and processing. There are reports of increased drug trafficking and other organised crime in the area around the Putumayo river. Seek local advice about dangerous areas and be alert to possible threats. Take official warnings seriously, follow the advice of local authorities, and report any suspicious activity or items to the police. If there’s an attack, leave the area as soon as it’s safe. Avoid areas affected in case of secondary attacks.
If you’re crossing the Peru-Ecuador border (by land) you should do so at official checkpoints only. Other parts of the border may still have unexploded landmines, and some tourists have been targeted and robbed by fake taxi drivers. You should exercise extra vigilance in these areas.
To protect the Inca trail, where only guided groups are allowed, 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.
The alternative route to Machu Picchu, also known as ‘the Inca Jungle Trail’ can be difficult for vehicles due to poor road conditions and fatal road accidents have been reported.
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.
If you’re planning to overfly the Nazca Lines, check the airline company is licensed and has a good safety record before you book. There have been several fatal accidents in recent years. For more information, please contact Iperu.
Shamans and other individuals offer ‘spiritual cleansing’ to tourists in the Amazon area, Northern Peru 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 which is prohibited in the UK as a Class A substance. 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. There have also been reports of sexual assault during these ceremonies. If you have been sexually assaulted or raped in Peru and you wish to seek assistance or to report the incident, you can refer to this guidance.
Spiritual cleansing retreats are usually some distance from populated areas making it difficult to access medical attention for those who need it. Some retreats have basic medical services, including first aid, but others don’t. Some don’t even have an established plan for how clients can access medical facilities in case of an emergency.
Criminal activity has been reported along the Amazon river near the tri-border area with Brazil and Colombia. Thieves can be armed and are known locally as ‘river pirates’. Independent travellers have been targeted, with foreign nationals having been involved in recent incidents. Be especially alert to the local security situation in these areas.
Luxury Cruise ships
Passengers’ security arrangements vary between different cruise operators in the Amazon region. For more information about safety and security on cruise ships, contact your cruise ship operator or iPeru (official tourist information and assistance).
Huaraz Region of the Cordillera Blanca Mountains
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. Most rescues are carried out on foot because helicopters can’t fly to the areas where hikers are experiencing transport difficulties. Contact iperu offices in Huaraz (telephone: +51 (43) 428812) before you set off.
River rafting and boating
Check that the company you use is well established and make sure your insurance covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. The weather can impact on white-water rafting and boating conditions.
There have been deaths and injuries involving recreational sand buggies, particularly in the sand dunes around Ica and Lake Huacachina. These buggies are unregulated and the drivers and agencies take no responsibility for the welfare of passengers.
You can drive in Peru with a valid UK driving licence for up to 6 months or with an International Driving Permit (IDP) for up to one year.
Carry your passport or a valid ID (‘carne de extranjería’ if you are a resident) with you at all times when driving.
Take particular care if you are driving close to places where protests are taking place. Don’t attempt to pass blockades.
Driving standards in Peru are poor. Stop signs and traffic lights are often ignored. Fatal crashes occur frequently. Drivers don’t always show concern for pedestrians.
Bus crashes are common, especially at night. Only use reputable transport companies, and where possible avoid overnight travel, especially in mountainous and remote regions. Always wear a seat belt.