Travelers warned to ‘exercise increased caution’ with Peru’s new travel advisories

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  • Published on May 8, 2023
  • Last Updated June 8, 2023
  • In Passport

Drug trafficking, terrorist group threats, and civil uprisings behind the increase of travel advisory levels for different regions in Peru.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated Peru’s current travel advisory level. The U.S. State Department on May 2 decreased Peru’s advisory warning to Level 2.

“The improved travel advisory issued by the U.S. Department of State is welcome news and a further reminder to the world that Peru is open for business,” says Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, the Ambassador of Peru to the U.S. “The upgraded travel alert underscores the safe and stable reality we see on the ground in Peru and should encourage travelers to visit. We look forward to this improved travel advisory giving U.S. travelers the added confidence to book their summer travel and enjoy the warm hospitality of the Peruvian people.”

Travelers headed to Peru are encouraged to review the new travel advisories that the U.S. State Department recently added.

Travel advisories are guidelines set in place by the government to warn about possible safety concerns for travelers. The State Department issues travel advisories on a 4-point scale: 4 being least safe, most cautious to 1 as more safe, less caution.

As of May 2, Peru’s advisory warning was decreased to Level 2. The government indicates this level as a need for travelers to “exercise increased caution.” The adjustment of caution level is due to the decrease of crime and civil unrest happening within areas of the country.

The stabilization of the country creates a welcoming environment for tourists. The return to safe travel allows visitors to take in Peru’s natural wonders and prized cultural and recreational sites including the world-famous Machu Picchu.

Although the country’s overall advisory level has decreased there are still some areas that the guideline advise individuals to “not travel to:”

  • The Colombian-Peruvian border area in the Loreto Region due to crime.

  • The Valley of the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers (VRAEM), including areas within the Departments of Ayacucho, Cusco, Huancavelica, and Junin, due to crime and terrorism.

  • The Puno region, including the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, and the Apurimac Region due to civil unrest.

Travel advisories also provide a “Country Summary” that outlines the specific reasons behind the advisory. It includes the commonly reported criminal activity, hours of the day to stay vigilant and areas to watch out for.

Peru’s “Country Summary” highlights “crime, including petty theft, carjackings, muggings, assaults, and other violent crime, which is common in Peru and can occur during daylight hours despite the presence of many witnesses—the risk of crime increases at night. Organized criminal groups are known to use roadblocks to rob victims in areas outside of the capital city of Lima.”

“Demonstrations occur regularly throughout the country. Public demonstrations can take place for a variety of political and economic issues. Demonstrations can cause the shutdown of local roads, trains, and major highways, often without prior notice or estimated reopening timelines. Road closures may significantly reduce access to public transportation and airports and may disrupt travel within and between cities,” the advisory continues.

The advisory also provided a special warning to U.S. travelers participating in activities where they will be taking Ayahuasca and Kambo, hallucinogenic drugs that are usually used in spiritual ceremonies. The advisory states that travelers “should be aware that numerous persons, including U.S. citizens, have reported that while under the influence of these substances, they have witnessed or been victims of sexual assault, rape, theft, serious health problems and injuries, and even death.”

The advisory also lists the Colombian-Peruvian border in the Loreto Region as a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” area. This advisory rating is due to the “drug trafficking and other criminal activity, combined with poor infrastructure, limits the capability and effectiveness of Peruvian law enforcement in this area.”

The Valley of the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers, also known as the VRAEM, was included as a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” area. The VRAEM includes areas within the Departments of Ayacucho, Cusco, Huancavelica, and Junin. Much like the border, “drug trafficking and other criminal activity” have this area on high alert. However, the VRAEM is mentioned to be a possible target for terrorist group attacks.

“Remnants of the Shining Path terrorist group are active in the VRAEM,” notes the travel advisory. “The group may attack with little or no warning, targeting Peruvian government installations and personnel.”

In December, after Congress impeached President Pedro Castillo Terrones for attempting to impose a one-man rule illegally, the Puno Region saw daily protests and civil uprisings. Due to this disruption, the area is listed as a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” region. Due to the fragility of government infrastructure in this area, “U.S. Embassy personnel are currently prohibited from traveling to the Puno Region, including Lake Titicaca, and to the Apurimac Region.”

Martie Bowser is a journalist and public relations professional in Charlotte, NC. She enjoys amplifying the voices of POC and women that fill a void within their community. Her bylines include “person of interest” interviews, small business highlights, pop culture commentary, entertainment features, and everything Beyonce.

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This story was originally published May 08, 2023 3:30 PM.