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Peru

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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution throughout Peru because of significant levels of serious crime. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources for possible new security risks.
  • Reconsider your need to travel within 20 kilometres of the border with Ecuador in the regions of Loreto, Amazonas (Cordillera del Condor) and Cajamarca due to the presence of landmines. Cross the Peru-Ecuador border only at official checkpoints.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to within 20 kilometres of the border with Colombia due to serious crime and occasional incursions of armed guerrilla forces from Colombia.
  • Violent crime, including sexual assault, armed robbery, muggings and carjackings, occurs frequently, particularly in the cities of Lima, Cusco and Arequipa.
  • Don't hail taxis on the street. Book them at the dedicated counters inside Lima's international airport, with assistance from staff at hotels, hostels, restaurants or places of entertainment, or through an app-based service. See Local travel and Safety and security
  • Keep car doors locked and windows up at all times, including when moving. Keep luggage out of sight, particularly when travelling to and from airports. See Safety and security
  • There still may be members of the Shining Path terrorist movement in isolated areas in the Southern Highlands, including San Martin, Huanuco, Pasco, Junin, Ucayali, Huancavelica, Ayacucho and Apurimac. Be alert to possible threats in these areas. See Safety and security
  • You'll need to show a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate on entry into Australia if you've visited Peru in the previous six days. See Entry and exit
  • Drug trafficking is a serious crime in Peru. Drug smugglers face severe penalties. See Laws
  • If you travel above 2,500m, you could develop altitude sickness. Altitude sickness can be life threatening and can affect anyone, including if you're physically fit. Many areas including Cuzco and Machu Picchu, Puno and the Colca Canyon and Lake Titicaca, are above 2,500m. See Health

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination's entry or exit requirements.

Visas

If you're visiting for tourism, you won't need a visa. Normally, permission to stay for up to six months is granted on arrival. It's not possible to extend this period. In other circumstances, you'll need a visa.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the Embassy of Peru for up-to-date information.

If you're travelling or transiting through the United States, you must meet US entry/transit requirements. Check your visa requirements with a US Embassy or Consulate well in advance of your travel. More information: United States of America.

Other formalities

You may need a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate to enter. Yellow fever is widespread. It is a serious and potentially fatal disease that is preventable by vaccination. Some airlines may require you to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate before they'll allow you to board your flight out of the country.

You'll need to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate on entry into Australia if you've visited Peru in the previous six days. More information: Yellow fever

More information:

If you enter by land, make sure you get an entrance stamp in your passport at the border control checkpoint. If you don't have an entry stamp from an official entry point, you may not be permitted to leave on your planned date of departure and could be fined. Only cross Peru's land borders at an official checkpoint.

Passports

Check the expiry date of your Australian passport before you travel. Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for six months from when you plan to leave that country.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact an Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

If your passport is lost or stolen in Peru, you'll need to contact the Australian Embassy in Lima to arrange a new passport. You'll then need to visit a Peruvian Immigration Office to get a new entry stamp in your replacement passport. Check the Superintendencia Nacional de Migraciones website for the location of your nearest Immigration Office.

Money

The local currency is the Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN). Declare all amounts in excess of USD10,000 or foreign currency equivalent on arrival.

ATM facilities are widely available. Credit cards are usually accepted. 

Safety and security

Crime

Violent crime, including sexual assault, armed robbery, muggings and carjackings, occurs frequently, particularly in Lima, Cusco and Arequipa. Pick-pocketing, bag snatching and other petty theft is common, including in public areas, hotels, conference centres, internet cafes and restaurants. Perpetrators are often well-dressed.  

Travellers using unlicensed taxi operators have become victims of serious crimes, including robbery, assault and rape. Criminals also target travellers walking alone after dark, especially when leaving bars or nightclubs.

You could also encounter:

  • food or drink spiking, followed by robbery and/or assault
  • 'express kidnappings', where victims are forced to withdraw funds from ATMs to secure their release
  • 'smash and grab' attacks, where vehicle windows are smashed and items snatched from passengers or from the rear of vehicles – these attacks are particularly common on cars stopped at traffic lights near Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport on Avenida de la Marina and Avenida Elmer Faucett
  • armed robbery and assault of boat passengers on rivers in the Amazon region
  • theft on intercity buses from passengers who are asleep or distracted, especially on the Lima, Ica, Nazca and Cusco routes
  • counterfeit currency, especially from unofficial money changers
  • assaults and robberies at gunpoint on intercity buses
  • bogus roadblocks or check points as a tool for criminal activity, usually on roads outside major cities after dark.

Ayahuasca tourism, in which shamans guide visitors through psychedelic rituals (often referred to as 'spiritual cleansing'), is a growing industry in the jungle regions of Ecuador and Peru. It's not illegal, but some Ayahuasca participants have been seriously assaulted and robbed. Victims report a range of experiences, from being alert but unable to maintain control of their surroundings, to total amnesia. 

Narcotics traffickers reportedly operate in the border area between Peru and Colombia. Armed guerrilla forces from Colombia sometimes enter Peru's remote areas. These activities make travel to the region within 20 kilometres of the border with Colombia dangerous. Reconsider your need to travel to these areas. Narcotics traffickers also reportedly operate in the valley of the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro rivers (VRAEM region).

  • Exercise a high degree of caution throughout Peru. Be alert to your surroundings and pay attention to your personal security at all times.
  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables in a secure location.
  • Keep vehicle doors locked, windows up and valuables out of sight, including when moving.
  • Avoid going out alone, especially at night.
  • Don't leave your luggage, food or drinks unattended.
  • Never accept drinks, food, gum or cigarettes from strangers or new acquaintances.
  • Exchange money in banks, exchange bureaux or in your hotel. Don't change money in the street.
  • Avoid using ATMs on the street. Use ATMs in banks, shopping centres or hotels where possible. 
  • Avoid placing luggage or other personal belongings on overhead racks or under your seats.
  • Check your cruise ship company has adequate security arrangements before booking.
  • Thoroughly research potential Ayahuasca tour operators before signing up.
  • Avoid participating in Ayahuasca rituals without a trusted friend present.
  • Monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Civil unrest and political tension

Demonstrations and protests occur regularly and can turn violent.

National or regional strikes can be called at short notice and can disrupt domestic air travel, public transport and road networks.

States of emergency can be called by local authorities in response to unrest or crime. These give the armed forces responsibility for law and order and suspend some civil rights.

The cities of Puno and Arequipa are particularly prone to civil unrest. Travel in and around these areas can be disrupted without notice as roads are occasionally blocked by protestors. In the past, protestors have also caused disruption to Juliaca airport, Cuzco airport and rail services to Machu Picchu.

There are occasional incursions into Peruvian territory of armed guerrillas from Colombia. This area is heavily patrolled and monitored by the Peruvian army.

  • Avoid all demonstrations, protests and large public gatherings.
  • If you're in an area where a demonstration is occurring, leave if it is safe to do so.
  • Monitor the media and other sources for news of strikes or planned or possible unrest. Avoid affected areas.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • Contact your airline or tour operator to confirm arrangements before travelling.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.

Isolated areas in the Southern Highlands including San Martin, Huanuco, Pasco, Junin, Ucayali, Huancavelica, Ayacucho and Apurimac, may still harbour members of the Shining Path terrorist movement.

  • Be alert to possible threats, especially in the Southern Highlands.
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Monitor the media for any new or emerging threats.
  • Take official warnings seriously.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so. 
  • Avoid the affected area in the aftermath of an attack because of the risk of secondary attacks.

More information: Terrorist Threat Worldwide

Local travel

Landmines

Landmines are being removed but remain a threat in the regions of Loreto, Amazonas (Cordillera del Condor) and Cajamarca, within 20 kilometres of the border area with Ecuador.

  • Reconsider your need to travel within 20 kilometres of the border with Ecuador in the regions of Loreto, Amazonas (Cordillera del Condor) and Cajamarca.
  • Cross the Peru-Ecuador border only at official checkpoints.

Tours and adventure activities

Australians have died as a result of adventure activity accidents in Peru. Transport and tour operators don't always follow recommended safety precautions, comply with maintenance standards or provide safety equipment such as lifejackets and seatbelts, including for adventure activities such as rafting, diving and sand dune buggy rides.

The Inca Trail closes in February every year for regular maintenance, but some companies still operate treks in the area. Heavy rainfall can make parts of the trail impassable and dangerous.

If you plan to travel to participate in adventure activities:

  • first talk to your travel insurer to check if the activity is covered by your insurance policy
  • check operators' credentials and safety equipment before booking
  • insist on minimal safety requirements and always use available safety equipment
  • if appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider
  • be prepared to adjust your plans if the weather makes conditions unsafe. If you're unsure, seek advice from local authorities
  • monitor weather conditions and use an experienced guide if you're hiking the Inca Trail.

Road travel

You're 2.5 times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Peru than in Australia. Driving hazards include poorly maintained roads and vehicles, aggressive local driving practices and inadequate road lighting. Fatal traffic accidents are common and often involve intercity buses.

Travel by road outside major cities after dark is dangerous due to the risk of criminal activity, which often involves the use of bogus roadblocks or check points.

  • Check you have adequate insurance cover before driving.
  • Familiarise yourself with local traffic laws and practices before driving.

More information: Road travel

Driver's licence

You can drive with a valid Australian driver's licence and an International Driving Permit (IDP). You must obtain your IDP before departing Australia.

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when using a motorcycle, quad bike or similar vehicle. Your policy may not cover you for accidents that occur while using these vehicles. Always wear a helmet.

Taxis

Travellers using unlicensed taxi operators have become victims of serious crimes, including robbery, assault and rape. Information on registered taxi companies is available on the Lima Airport Partner website.

  • Don't hail taxis from the street.
  • On arrival in Peru, arrange a taxi at the designated counter in Lima's international airport or use a hotel or other reputable, pre-booked transfer service. 
  • Seek help from staff at hotels, hostels, restaurants or places of entertainment to book a licensed taxi, or book through an app-based service.

Public transport

Inter-city buses are commonly involved in road collisions and are often targeted by criminals – see Safety and securityThe Peruvian Ministry of Transportation publishes a list in Spanish of the intercity bus companies with the highest rate of traffic accidents resulting in fatalities and serious injuries ("Ranking De Empresas De Transporte Interprovincial"). Using a reputable transport or bus companies may reduce risks.

Sea and boat travel

Armed criminals target boats on rivers in the Amazon region. Foreigners, including Australians, are assaulted and robbed every year in attacks on boats.

Check your cruise ship company has adequate security arrangements before booking.

A number of international cruise liners visit Peru. More information: Going on a cruise?

Air travel

Light aircraft and helicopter flights may be hazardous due to a variety of conditions, including changeable weather and harsh geography.

If you're planning a scenic flight over the Nazca Lines, check the airline company is licensed and has a good safety record before you book.

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws

Penalties for possession of illegal drugs are severe and include lengthy imprisonment in local jails. Peru uses sophisticated technology and highly trained personnel for detecting the carriage of illegal drugs at Lima's International Airport and throughout Peru. Australians have received lengthy jail sentences for drug offences.

Other laws

By law, you must carry photo identification at all times. If you prefer not to carry your passport, a notarised copy of the photo and visa pages is acceptable. Notarised copies can be issued by the Australian Embassy in Lima - see Where to Get Help.

Activities that are illegal in Peru include:

  • photographing military establishments, equipment and personnel, public water and electricity plants, police stations, harbours, mines and bridges
  • 'indecent behaviour', which can include failing to show respect when visiting cultural, historical or sacred sites - Australians have been detained for indecent behaviour
  • exporting handicrafts or goods of cultural or historical significance – if you want to buy and export copies, you'll first need authorisation from the National Institute for Culture (INC) of Peru (Telephone: +51-1-226 4162)
  • exporting antiques and artefacts from pre-colonial civilizations – if you want to buy and export a reproduction, use a reputable dealer who can provide documentation permitting export

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

Children under 18 who are dual nationals must travel with both passports. If they're travelling alone or with only one parent, they need certain documents - see Entry and Exit.

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. Make sure your policy includes adequate coverage for any pre-existing conditions.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • you're covered for the whole time you'll be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel

Take enough legal prescription medicine with you to last for the duration of your stay so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Altitude sickness

You’re at risk of altitude sickness if you travel above 2,500m, particularly if the ascent is rapid or you make further rapid ascents at higher altitudes. Altitude sickness can be life threatening and can affect anyone, including if you're physically fit. You're more at risk if you've had altitude sickness before, exercise or drink alcohol before acclimatising to the altitude, or have health problems that affect breathing.

Many areas of Peru, including Cuzco and Machu Picchu, Puno and the Colca Canyon and Lake Titicaca, are above 2,500m.

If you plan to travel to high altitudes:

  • see your doctor prior to travel and get advice specific to you and your situation
  • check your insurance covers emergency evacuation from altitude and related medical costs.

Insect-borne diseases

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) yellow fever is widespread in Peru. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes. It is preventable by vaccination.

There is widespread transmission of Zika virus in Peru. The Australian Department of Health advises pregnant women to discuss any travel plans with their doctor and defer non-essential travel to affected areas.

Malaria, dengue fever and other insect-borne diseases occur in parts of the country. Dengue fever is particularly common in and around Iquitos.

Protect yourself against insect-borne diseases:

  • ensure your accommodation is insect proof
  • avoid insect bites, including by using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
  • get vaccinated against yellow fever before you travel
  • consider taking malaria prevention medication
  • seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache

More information:

Other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. 

  • Practise good hygiene, including frequent handwashing.
  • Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid raw and undercooked food.
  • Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities are usually adequate in major cities but can be very limited elsewhere.

Doctors and hospitals generally require up-front cash payment before commencing treatment, including for emergency care.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.

Natural disasters

Peru experiences storms, severe weather, flooding, landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.

If a natural disaster occurs:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times.
  • monitor local media and other sources such as the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare.

If you're travelling during the rainy season or after a natural disaster, contact your tour operator to check whether services at your planned destination have been affected.

Severe Weather

Peru has a variety of climates. In general, the rainy season is from November to May. Flooding and landslides are common in the Andes during this period and may disrupt transport services including rail and air services. Heavy rain can cause flooding and landslides in the Machu Picchu/Inca Trail/Aguas Calientes area. These can result in travel delays.

Earthquakes and tsunamis

Peru is located in an active seismic region.

  • In April 2014, a major earthquake measuring 8.2 on the Richter scale struck off the coast of northern Chile, near the Peru/Chile border. A tsunami warning was in effect for Peru immediately after the quake.
  • In August 2007, an earthquake off the coast of Chincha, 161km south of Lima, killed more than 500 people.

A tsunami can arrive very soon after a nearby tremor or earthquake occurring. Be alert to warnings. Move immediately to high ground if advised by local authorities or if you experience any of the following:

  • feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up, or a weak rolling earthquake that lasts a minute or more
  • see a sudden rise or fall in sea level
  • hear loud and unusual noises from the sea

Don't wait for official warnings. Once on high ground, monitor local media and weather services.

More information: Pacific Tsunami Warning Center

Volcanoes

Several volcanoes in southern Peru are active, including Ubinas and Sabancaya, which erupted multiple times in 2016.  Eruptions could occur at any time and without warning. Two government department websites provide up-to-date information (in Spanish): the Geophysical Institute of Peru Instituto Geofisico del Peru (IGP) and the Geology, Mineralogy and Metallurgy Institute Instituto Geologico Minero y Metalurigico (INGEMMET).

Exposure to volcanic ash can harm your health, particularly your breathing. The ash, dust and toxic fumes emitted following an eruption are a significant health risk, especially to those with existing respiratory problems.

  • Monitor local media for advice of possible risks
  • Seek local advice on recent volcanic activity before hiking or trekking near active volcanoes

If there's a volcanic eruption:

  • stay inside with the windows and doors shut and place damp towels at door thresholds and other draft sources, if ash is falling in your area
  • when ash has ceased to fall or you need to go outside, wear a disposable face-mask if available and change it frequently
  • wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants to protect your skin, and goggles to protect your eyes
  • avoid unnecessary contact with ash
  • follow the advice for all natural disasters above.

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

The Peruvian government has "i-Peru" information offices in major airports and cities which provide assistance in English (+51 1 574 8000 – 24 hours).

Emergency phone numbers

  • Fire: dial 116
  • Medical emergencies: dial 117 or go direct to the hospital
  • Criminal issues: dial 0800 22221 (Tourist police – English spoken) or visit the nearest tourist police or local police station.
  • Tourist Police offices are in many tourist destinations and at the international airport in Lima.
  • Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

You can also register complaints or seek other assistance via the consumer protection agency, INDECOPI on the 24-hour hotline: +511 224 7777. English speaking operators are available.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas. For consular assistance, contact the Australian Embassy in Lima.

Australian Embassy, Lima

Avenida La Paz 1049, 10th Floor
Miraflores, Lima, 18, Peru
Telephone: +51 1 630 0500
Facsimile: +51 1 630 0520
E-mail: consular.lima@dfat.gov.au
Web: peru.embassy.gov.au
Facebook: Australia en Perú y Bolivia

Check the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are unable to contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information