Protests in Peru: what travelers need to know when Machu Picchu and airports are closed

Protests in Peru: what travelers need to know when Machu Picchu and airports are closed

  • Travel
  • January 26, 2023
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The ever-evolving situation is also changing by the day, so having this inside knowledge will help keep plans on track. “We do not believe that this affects the safety of the guests, but the enjoyment of the visit,” says Rico. “You shouldn’t panic; there is no risk to personal safety. They should simply reconsider their plans to avoid “hot” areas where protests could affect the opportunity and quality of their visits.”

It is also imperative to understand the reason behind these disorders. “Protests are a common way for Peruvians to make their voices heard,” says Southwind Adventures’ Tom Damon. “Peru is a relatively peaceful country going through a period of political transition. The current unrest is directed against the political institutions so as not to harm visitors to Peru.”

In fact, routes to often less-visited regions can also be an opportunity, says Damon, suggesting the northern beaches of Piura and Tumbes, archaeological sites near Chiclayo and Trujillo, or even a river cruise on the Amazon from Iquitos. “There are some roadblocks on the Panamericana north, so we recommend avoiding long overland routes, but flights to this area are possible,” he adds.

That’s exactly what American Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, a writer and digital marketer from New York, did when she came to Peru on December 20 to travel and work remotely for about five weeks. She had originally planned to go straight to Cusco, including a Christmas Day visit to Machu Picchu. “As my departure date approached and the unrest continued, I realized that even if I could logistically make it to Cusco – and for a while there was no way to get to Cusco at all – it wouldn’t be wise to do so. She says. Forty-eight hours before departure, she changed her route, following the advice of a friend who knows Peru well, to go to Chachapoyas and Trujillo instead.

“I’m devastated because I missed Machu Picchu, but the fact is I’ve seen things I would never have seen, I’ve stayed on the beaten path,” she says. “Machu Picchu gets all the love, but there are tons of pre-Inca sites even older than Machu Picchu. Perhaps this is the time for Americans to learn more about what else Peru has to offer, like the magnificent Moche-era huacas in the Trujillo area or the sacred sarcophagi of Karajia near Chachapoyas.”

But Whitefield-Madrano says she’s wary of her own presence, too, given what locals might be going through. “As a foreigner, especially as a foreigner from a wealthy country with tremendous diplomatic power, your security is likely to be protected, and that protection could potentially come at the expense of local security,” says Whitefield-Madrano. “In [some] In some places there were disruptions in the supply chain. Even if you don’t experience these disruptions yourself, your comfort could come at the expense of people who need more supplies than you.”

At the same time, the impact of canceled trips, including flights and hotel stays, has meant a loss of PEN 500 million (almost $130 million) for the Peruvian tourism sector in December 2022 alone, according to El Comercio. According to some estimates, up to 20 million people with tourism-related jobs in the country are currently unemployed.

While caution is now advised when traveling, Peruvians look forward to more peaceful times ahead. As Rico says: “We hope that the government will resolve the situation soon so that harmony returns to Peru and we are all allowed to work and work normally.”

Peru’s Tourist Board recommends travelers to download the Tourist Police Peru app, which can be accessed via the Play Store, and have emergency numbers on hand, including the central POLTUR at (01) 4601060 or IPERÚ via WhatsApp +51 944492314 or phone (01) 574-8000. Travel specialists focused on the region also suggest enrolling in the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and purchasing travel insurance that covers civil unrest as a precaution. Americans currently stuck in Peru or in need of assistance may also contact the US Embassy in Lima at +51-1-618-2000 or LimaACS@state.gov.

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