Adventure Travel: 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. The Inca Trail is closed for maintenance each year for the month of February. 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.
The historic site of Machu Picchu has a daily visitor limit of 2,500 guests. This limit is strictly enforced. The government of Peru recommends purchasing tickets in advance to avoid possible disappointment if the maximum has been reached for the day of an intended visit. The website of iPeru, Peru’s tourist information and assistance agency, has detailed information on how to obtain tickets. It is possible to reserve and pay online, although the website may be slow to load.
Adventure travelers should be aware that rescue capabilities are limited. Few rescue helicopters are in service, and cell phone service may be unavailable. U.S. citizens who plan to visit 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. 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. 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. Due to cell phone and internet limitations in remote areas, communication with family and friends may not always be possible, and travelers should plan accordingly.
Travelers to all remote areas should check with local authorities about geographic, climatic, and security conditions.
Ayahuasca: Ayahuasca is an Amazonian psychotropic plant, generally brewed as a tea that has traditionally been used for religious, ritual, and medicinal purposes by the indigenous peoples of the region. It is said to elicit intense modifications in thought processes, perception, and emotion. The psychoactive ingredient is Dimethyltryptamine(DMT), a drug classified as Schedule I in the United States under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, “substances in this schedule have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.”
Ayahuasca tourism, in which shamans “guide” visitors through psychedelic rituals, is a burgeoning industry in the jungle regions of Ecuador and Peru. There is no way to thoroughly vet ayahuasca tourism operators, and if you choose to participate, please be aware of the potential risks involved. Some participants have reported adverse experiences during the rituals, including being seriously assaulted and robbed. Victims report a range of scenarios, from being alert but unable to maintain control of their surroundings, to total amnesia. In 2012, a U.S. citizen died in Peru while under the influence of the drug.
Disaster Preparedness: Peru is an earthquake-prone country. U.S. citizens in areas affected by earthquakes can expect to experience temporary difficulty communicating with family and friends in the United States and in securing prompt onward overland transportation out of the affected areas.