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Peru

If you’re travelling to Peru, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution.

Latest Travel Alert

There have been heavy rains across many regions of Peru in recent weeks causing flooding, landslides and mudslides. There has been extensive damage to infrastructure, especially roads and bridges, across many areas of the country causing disruption to transport, communications and water shortages in some parts of the country. Medical facilities in affected regions are overburdened.

If you are in Peru and concerned that the area you are in is unsafe or at risk of further serious flooding then we advise you to consider moving to a safer area. Rainfall is predicted to continue until mid-April, meaning there is a high risk of further flooding.

If you are in Peru, or planning to travel to Peru, please monitor local news closely and follow the authorities' advice. For specific advice on conditions in the different regions of Peru visit the Iperu website (the official source of information for tourists in Peru). If you plan to travel between regions or undertake mountain trekking you should also consult your tour operator. 

There is currently an outbreak of Zika Virus (a dengue-like mosquito-borne disease) in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Irish Citizens are advised to follow guidance available on the website of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) at http://www.hpsc.ie/A-Z/Vectorborne/Zika/.

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

We suggest you learn as much as you can about Peru before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books. The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems when you’re in Peru, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management

You can contact the emergency services in Peru by dialling (911).

There is no Irish Embassy in Peru, we’re limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Honorary Consulate in Lima or the Irish Embassy in Mexico.

If you phone outside of working hours, leave us a message giving:

  • Your name
  • The nature of your problem
  • Where you are now
  • Your contact details (mobile phone number or phone number of where you’re staying)

We regularly monitor these messages and one of our staff members will be in contact with you.

Other EU embassies

You can also contact the Embassies and Consulate of EU countries for emergency consular assistance, advice and support.

Tourist protection office

The Peruvian government has opened Tourist Protection offices in many tourist destinations where tourists can register complaints or get help via a 24-hour hotline. The contact number is 424 2053 in Lima and 01 424 2053 when outside the city of Lima. English speaking operators are available.

Our tips for Safe Travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

Safety and security

Crime

There are high levels of serious crime in Peru so be vigilant about your personal safety and always take sensible precautions.

Violent crime

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

Roadblocks can appear on main roads and can cause traffic disruptions. Don’t try to cross blockades, even if they appear unattended.

Border region

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.

Landmines

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.

Terrorism

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.

Buses

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.

ATM fraud

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

Driving

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).

Buses

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.

Air safety

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.

Sand buggies

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.

Inca trail

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.

Lake Titicaca

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.

Spiritual cleansing

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. 

Local laws and customs

Illegal drugs

Drug trafficking is a serious crime in Peru and drug smugglers face severe penalties, usually long prison terms. Pack your luggage yourself and keep it with you at all times. Don’t carry anything through customs for anybody else. We advise against taking coca leaves/coca tea out of the country.

Age of consent

Sex with minors (anyone under 18 is considered a minor in Peru) is illegal. Offenders will face long term jail sentences.

Archeological artefacts

You are not allowed to take any archaeological artefacts from the country without the proper authority.

Souvenirs

The sale of souvenirs made with any animal parts, including condor feathers, is illegal. These feathers are often sold in tourist markets in Cusco.

LGBT travellers

Homosexuality is legal in Peru but social attitudes are generally conservative. Any outward display of homosexual behaviour could lead to negative attention. Same-sex partnerships are not formally recognised.

Military installations

You should avoid taking photographs of anything of a military nature.

Natural disasters and climate

Practical advice

  • Get local advice on how to manage in the case of a serious incident or dangerous conditions
  • Co-operate with local authorities and emergency services in the case of serious incidents

Earthquakes

Peru is in an earthquake zone and tremors are frequent. You should check with your tour operator or local authorities for current updates before visiting the area.

Tsunamis and High tides

Although tsunamis are rare in Peru higher tides are often experienced either after an earthquake or for other reasons throughout the year.

Landslides

Landslides, mudslides and flooding can take place during the rainy season in Peru (November to April). They can make local travel difficult, particularly in mountainous areas and can sometimes cause death or serious injury. If you’re planning to travel in Peru, keep up to date with current weather conditions via your local guide, travel agent or local tourist information point. Always take local advice if you’re travelling overland in areas affected by floods and contact your tour operator before you begin your journey to find out if your planned route is open.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

If you are unsure of the entry requirements for Peru, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Peru.

You can also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.

If you overstay your visa, you’ll need to pay a fine. In the worst case scenario you could be held in detention.

Entrance stamp

When you’re entering Peru by land, you need to get an entrance stamp in your passport. If you fail to do so, you will be obliged to apply for an expulsion order in order to leave the country.  This process may take several weeks and prevent you from re-entering Peru.

Passports

You should take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay, carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.

Yellow fever

If you plan on travelling in Latin America, you may need a Yellow Fever Certificate. Confirm with the authorities of your next destination whether they require a certificate following your visit to Peru.

Health

Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for Peru.

Altitude

The altitude in Cusco, Machu Picchu, Puno and Lake Titicaca can cause problems for travellers, particularly those who suffer from lung, heart or chest problems. Healthy travellers may also feel the effects of the lack of oxygen.