A peace treaty ending the Peru/Ecuador border conflict was signed on October 26, 1998. Because of mines and unexploded ordnance left over from the conflict, crossing or approaching the Peru-Ecuador border anywhere except at official checkpoints is extremely dangerous. Travelers planning overland travel to the border area are encouraged to check with the U.S. Embassy for updated information.
Political demonstrations occur sporadically in urban areas. Demonstrations can cause serious traffic disruptions, but are usually announced in advance. Visitors are encouraged to keep informed by following the local news and consulting hotel personnel and tour guides. While these demonstrations are usually peaceful, as a general rule, it is best to avoid such crowds.
Violent crime, including carjacking, assault, and armed robbery, is common in Lima. Short-term armed kidnappings, in which criminals seek to obtain funds from the victims' bank accounts via automatic teller machines, happen frequently. Passengers who hail taxis on the street are often assaulted. It is safer to use telephone-dispatched radio taxis. Travelers should guard against thefts of luggage and other belongings, particularly U.S. passports, at Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport.
Street crime is also prevalent in tourist cities in Peru's interior, including Cusco, Arequipa, Puno and Juliaca, and pickpockets frequent the market areas. In Cusco, "choke and grab" muggings are common, particularly on streets leading off the main square and in the area around the train station. Travelers should use only registered taxis in Cusco and should not accept offers of transportation or guide services from individuals seeking clients on the streets. Resistance to violent crime often provokes greater violence, while those who do not resist usually do not suffer serious physical harm.
U.S. visitors to Peru should immediately report any criminal activity against them to the nearest police station or tourism police office, and to the U.S. Embassy in Lima or the Consular Agent in Cusco. Immediate action may result in the capture of the thieves and the recovery of stolen property.
The number for the tourist police in Lima is (51-1) 225-8698 or 225-8699, or fax 476-7708. There are also tourist police offices in 15 other cities, including all major tourist destinations such as Cusco, Arequipa, and Puno. Tourists may register complaints on a 24-hour hotline, provided by INDECOPI (National Institute for the Defense of Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property). In Lima, telephone 224-7888 or 224-8600. Outside Lima, callers should dial the prefix (01), then these numbers, or call the toll-free number 0-800-42579 from any private phone (the 800 number is not available from public phones). The INDECOPI hotline will assist in contacting police to report a crime, but is intended primarily to deal with non-emergency situations such as poor service from a travel agency or guide, lost property, or unfair charges.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. While in Peru, travelers are encouraged to leave their passports in a hotel safe or other secure location, and to carry a photocopy of the passport data and photo pages. U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. This publication and others, such as "Tips for Travelers to Central and South America," are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402; via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs; or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
Visitors to high-altitude Andean destinations such as the Cusco (10,000 feet) and Lake Titicaca (13,000 feet) areas may need some time to adjust to the altitude, which can adversely affect blood pressure, digestion and energy level. Travelers are encouraged to consult with their personal health care providers before undertaking high-altitude travel. In particular, travelers with heart or lung problems and persons with sickle cell trait may develop serious health complications at high altitudes. In 1999, several U.S. citizens died in Peru from medical conditions exacerbated by the high altitude. In jungle areas east of the Andes, malaria is a serious problem. Cholera, yellow fever, hepatitis and other exotic and contagious diseases are also present.
Safety of Public Transportation: poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: poor
Road travel at night is dangerous due to poor road markings and frequent unmarked road hazards. Drivers should not travel alone on rural roads, even in daylight. Convoy travel is preferable. Spare tires, parts and fuel are needed when traveling in remote areas, where distances between service areas are great. Fog is common on coastal and mountain highways, and the resulting poor visibility frequently causes accidents. Inter-city bus travel is dangerous. Bus accidents resulting in multiple deaths and injuries are common, and are frequently attributed to excessive speed, poor bus maintenance, and driver fatigue. Several foreigners were killed or seriously injured in bus accidents in 1999. For further information, travelers may wish to contact their nearest automobile club, or (for information in Spanish) the Associacion Automotriz del Peru, 299 Avenida Dos de Mayo, San Isidro, Lima, Peru, telephone (51-1) 440-0495.
Inca trail hikers are significantly safer if they are part of a guided group trail hike. Visitors should always register when entering national parks. Hikers should exercise extreme caution in steep or slippery areas, which are neither fenced nor marked. A number of people have died after falling while climbing Huayna Picchu, a peak near Machu Picchu. Travelers to all remote areas should check with local authorities about geographic, climatic and security conditions.
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. Most rescues are carried out on foot because helicopters cannot fly to the high-altitude areas where hikers are stranded. There have been several drownings of rafters and other boaters, including an experienced U.S. kayaker who drowned in an unexplored river in 1998.
Travelers who participate in mountain climbing, river rafting or other travel in remote areas should leave detailed written plans and a timetable with a friend and with local authorities in the region, and should carry waterproof identification and emergency contact information.
Ancash Department: Provinces of Pallasca, Corongo, and Sihuas only.
Apurimac Department: Province of Chinceros.
Ayacucho Department: Provinces of La Mar and Huanta (except Huanta City), and the highway that joins Huanta City to Ayacucho City. Overland travel from Ayacucho to San Francisco is prohibited.
Huancavelica Department: Provinces of Huancavelica, Castrovirreyna and Huaytara.
Huanuco Department: All areas except the city of Huanuco by highway from Cerro De Pasco. All highways leading into Tingo Maria from Huanuco (south), Monzon (west), Aguaytia (east) and Uchiza (north) are prohibited.
Junin Department: Provinces of Satipo and Chanchamayo, except the cities of La Merced and San Ramon by road from Lima.
La Libertad Department: Provinces of Bolivar, Sanchez Carrion, and Pataz.
Pasco Department: Province of Oxapampa, except Puerto Bermudez and Ciudad Constitucion by air.
Piura Department: Province of Huancabamba.
San Martin Department: Provinces of Huallaga, Mariscal Caceres, Bellavista and Tocache, except the cities of Juanjui, Bellavista and Saposoa by air.
Ucayali Department: Province of Padre Abad and the western section of Coronel Portillo (between Pucallpa City and the border with the Province of Padre Abad. The highway between Aguaytia and Tingo Maria is prohibited.
Peruvian law strictly prohibits the export of antiques and artifacts from pre-colonial civilizations. Travelers buying art should be aware that unscrupulous traders may try to sell them articles that cannot be exported from Peru. Such articles may be seized by Peruvian customs authorities and the traveler may be subject to criminal penalties. Travelers who purchase reproductions of colonial or pre-colonial art should buy only from reputable dealers and should insist upon documentation from Peru's National Institute of Culture (INC) showing that the object is a reproduction and may be exported. Peruvian customs authorities may retain articles lacking such documentation and forward them to INC for evaluation. If found to be reproductions, the objects eventually may be returned to the purchaser, but storage and shipping charges are the responsibility of the purchaser.
Vendors in jungle cities and airports sell live animals and birds, as well as handicrafts made from insects, feathers, or other natural products. Under Peruvian law protecting the country's biodiversity, it is illegal to remove certain flora and fauna items, such as these, from their place of origin to another part of Peru or to export them to a foreign country. Travelers have been detained and arrested by the Ecology Police in Lima for carrying such items.
Information on U.S. regulations for the importation of plant and animal products is available from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture via the Internet at www.aphis.usda.gov. Travelers bringing animals to the United States may also wish to consult with U.S. Customs or the Fish and Wildlife Service of the U.S. Department of Interior.
Additional information about the protection of Peru's cultural heritage and its flora and fauna is available from the Embassy of Peru.
Peruvian civil aviation authorities have no statutory oversight authority for the safety of military aviation. Military aircraft are occasionally leased for civilian use, usually in an emergency situation or for charter flights contracted by private companies for their employees and dependents. Two 1998 crashes of Peruvian Air Force (FAP) planes flying civilian passengers left a combined 101 civilians dead and more than 50 injured. The domestic airline TANS is owned and operated by the Peruvian military, but it is subject to civilian civil aviation authority safety standards.