Thinking of visiting Peru in the near future, but concerned about recent protests? Let us ease your worries by guiding you through what’s going on here and providing helpful travel advice. Read this article to stay informed, be prepared, and enjoy your upcoming Peruvian adventure!
Why are protests happening in Peru right now?
On December 7, 2022, President Pedro Castillo was impeached and arrested after trying to dissolve congress and seize power earlier that day. Fast forward two months, and the protests sparked by Castillo’s fall have metastasized into a larger protest movement combining anger among Castillo’s political supporters with larger frustrations with government corruption, inflation, and continuing economic disruption after the Covid 19 pandemic.
The nationwide protests lack a single focus and no single representative speaks for more than more than a small segment of protesters. Some protesters insist they are marching to force the new president, Dina Boluarte, to step down, while others are demanding expedited new elections. Regardless of the political background, a worrisome recent trend is that there have now been several incidents of violent clashes between angry mobs and police.
Nevertheless, as we will explore in this article, while the protests continue to cause some disruption to transportation and the operation of some tourism sites, tourists are in no imminent danger due to the protests taking place in Peru.
Would I be safe traveling in Peru while protests take place?
The short answer is yes. However, let’s explore where protests are taking place and review a few tips to stay safe at all times:
To start off, it is important to understand that clashes are only happening between protesters and police. There has been no incident of any protesters targeting tourists, foreigners, or even foreign institutions (such as embassies).
Second, let’s acknowledge that culturally speaking, Peruvians of all classes generally have a deep sense of appreciation for tourists coming to visit their country. Most Peruvians will see you, a visiting foreigner, as a friend, especially in areas where tourism has substantially helped local people progress economically and provide for their loved ones. Therefore, you should not be concerned that protesters will view you as a target for any reason.
Third, looking at the history of mass protests in Peru over the past several months and years, It is very rare for anyone to get hurt other than either policemen or protesters that have violently clashed with police. Unless you yourself are planning to join a mass protest or to attack the police, there is virtually no chance of getting hurt as a result of protests.
What is the best place to stay in Peru while protests take place?
If you are visiting Lima, protests commonly take place in the historic center downtown. That is where most government buildings are located, such as the presidential palace, the congress building, or the palace of justice. Assuming that you stay in the neighborhood of Miraflores, you will most likely be far away from the protests.
Miraflores is generally travelers’ first choice to stay while visiting Lima, as it is generally considered to be a safe and developed neighborhood with well-developed tourism infrastructure, such as hotels, restaurants, and many things to do. This is also the neighborhood where our Spanish School is located.
It is important to note that protests are commonly announced ahead of time. In other words, they don’t just erupt spontaneously from one minute to the next or continue for days and weeks, meaning that you will still be able to plan a visit to the historic downtown of Lima during a day where no protests are planned.
If you are in Cusco or Arequipa, the clashes between protesters and policeman usually take place in the middle of busy roads, which protesters try to block and disrupt transportation. Very rarely, disruptive protests have taken over the main plazas of Cusco and Arequipa, but the vast majority of hotels are located blocks away from their main plazas and were unaffected. Thus, you shouldn’t be afraid of getting caught in the middle of a protest. Also, because main plazas in Arequipa and Cusco have extremely important historic landmarks, they are usually guarded by police, so the protest that broke out in these main plazas police have generally been kept under control.
Are airports and tourist sites still open?
Generally, yes. For the same reason that protesters have sought to garner attention by disrupting road traffic, a few protests have sought to disrupt air travel and the entryways to high profile tourist sites like Machu Picchu. However, the regional airports that have closed due to protests have quickly resumed operating after no more than a few days.
Is there an end in sight for recent protests in Peru?
It’s very hard to tell. However, we believe that the worst has already passed and even if protests continue in the future they will only get smaller and smaller thanks to improving police control over the main protests areas. We expect a reduction in the disruption of services such as blocked roads or tourist landmarks that were closed out of an abundance of caution. On the other hand, there is no clear end in sight for protests as some of protesters demands are either impractical or completely impossible to achieve (for instance, some are demanding for immediate new elections to take place).
Tips to successfully visit Peru in the meantime:
- Do not actively engage or participate in protests. Remember, protests are organized ahead of time, so you’ll be able to plan and avoid areas where you know protests will take place. In the very unlikely event that you find a protest taking place close to you, simply walk away. Protests always take place in very focused and limited areas, so you shouldn’t be concerned or have the idea that protests cover the whole city.
- Keep your plans a little flexible and only book services with places that offer flexibility. For instance, if you are booking a hotel for Cusco, make sure you are booking a refundable rate or one that allows you to pay in person once you arrive there. At our Spanish School in Lima, for example, we never charge fees in advance and always keep our program flexible in case you need to move your dates.
- In the unlikely event that your domestic flight gets cancelled, please keep in mind that domestic airlines in Peru are forced by law to either postpone or refund your fare at no additional cost to you.
- At this time we recommend you to fly rather than taking a bus to visit other cities such as Cusco or Arequipa, as disruption of intercity roads is a common tactic for protesters to demand action and/or call for attention from the government.
- If part of your travel itinerary is affected and you need to change some of your travel plans consider staying in Lima for longer until the protest ends in your next destination (remember, if a protest is scheduled, you will likely know at least one week ahead of time and it will only last 1 or 2 days. Protests generally don’t extend for long periods of time).
If you end up staying in Lima for a longer period, you may wish to stay productive and, for example, sign up for one of our Spanish Immersion Programs at our Spanish School in Lima.
Should I cancel or postpone my trip to Peru amid protests?
If you are concerned about safety, then you can put your mind at ease that the likelihood of being caught up in a violent protest is extremely low. However, if you are on a very strict schedule and plan to visit cities like Cusco and Arequipa, then we recommend trying to adjust your itinerary to allow for some wiggle room in case travel between cities is delayed.
For those who have a bit of flexibility and are excited to see what Peru has to offer, now is actually a great time to see Peru without crowds of other tourists. Hotels are offering plenty of deals without cancelation fees, and airlines are also waiving last minute change fees. Despite the protests against the government, Peruvians remain very happy to welcome foreigners to their country so you can still expect to feel very welcome.