Safety and Security
The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) terrorist group remains active in Peru and has previously expressed an intention to target U.S. interests. Sporadic incidents of Shining Path violence, mainly against Peruvian security services, have occurred in the recent past in rural provinces within the Regions of Ayacucho, Cusco, Huancavelica, Huánuco, and Junín. Incidents have included attacks by large, heavily armed groups of Shining Path on Peruvian army and police patrols in remote areas, as well as kidnappings of Peruvian and foreign workers. Local community self-defense groups (“rondas campesinas”) may operate legally in some rural areas with minimal police presence; visitors are encouraged to cooperate with the rondas’ directions. 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.
Night-time road travel between towns or cities is generally prohibited for all U.S. Embassy employees due to the risk of robbery and unsafe road conditions. The only exception is nighttime travel on the Pan-Americana Highway. U.S. Embassy employees are permitted to travel at night on the Pan-Americana Highway south from Lima to Paracas or north from Lima to Huacho.
The U.S. Embassy restricts travel of U.S. government employees in Emergency Zones designated by the Government of Peru (where certain rights are restricted and the military may be in charge of providing security) and areas where terrorist groups or narcotics traffickers are known to operate or have recently resorted to violent actions. Overland travel in or near these areas, particularly at night, is risky. The Embassy also strongly recommends that, when traveling in areas near the Emergency Zones, U.S. citizens heighten their security awareness and implement additional security measures. The following list contains the current restricted zones:
Apurimac: Restricted: Provinces of Andahuaylas and Chincheros.
Permitted: Everywhere else.
Ayacucho: Restricted: Provinces of Huanta, and La Mar. 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.
Cusco: Restricted: The province of La Convención. The districts of Kimbiri, Pichari, Vilcabamba, and the Echarate.
Permitted: Everywhere else, including Machu Picchu area and the city of Cusco.
Huancavelica: Restricted: Provinces of Pampas, Churcampa, Acobamba and Tayacaja. In the province of Concepcion, travel east of the cities of San Antonio de Ocopa and Santa Rosa (located northeast of Concepcion city). Travel to Huancavelica City.
Permitted: Daylight road travel from Pisco to Ayacucho City.Train travel from Lima to Huancayo. Daylight road travel from Lima to Huancayo.
Huánuco: Restricted: All zones; ground travel is permitted only with Deputy Chief of Mission authorization.
Permitted: Flying into and staying within the city limits of Huánuco and Tingo María.
Junín: Restricted: Provinces of Satipo and Concepción east of the Rio Mantaro. The District of Santo Domingo de Acobamba in the Province of Huancayo.
Permitted: Daylight road travel from La Merced to Satipo.
Loreto: Restricted: 20-kilometer swath of territory contiguous to the Colombian border. Travel on the Putumayo River.
Permitted: Everywhere else.
San Martín: Restricted: Provinces of Tocache, Mariscal Caceres, Huallaga, and Bellavista. Ground travel is permitted only with Deputy Chief of Mission authorization.
Permitted: Flying only into and remaining within the city limits of Tocache, Saposoa, Juanjui, and Bellavista.
Ucayali: 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.
A number of assaults on rivers in the Amazon jungle have been reported in recent years. River pirates continue to operate on tributaries of the Amazon. Inca Trail hikers are significantly safer if they are part of a guided group trail hike.
Political demonstrations and labor-related strikes and marches regularly occur in urban and some rural areas. 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 Peruvian government is working to remove mines and unexploded ordnance left over from the 1995 Peru/Ecuador border conflict, but crossing or approaching the Peru-Ecuador border anywhere except at official checkpoints can still be hazardous. 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. Although there are no mines on the Peruvian side of the Peru/Chile border, seasonal heavy rains occasionally wash unmarked and unexploded mines across the border from Chile into Peru.
The U.S. Embassy in Lima has put tours over the Nazca Lines in Nazca, Peru, off-limits to its direct-hire personnel if the flights originate out of Nazca’s Maria Reiche Airport, due to potential safety hazards of small commercial aircraft based at that airport.