Peru travel brims with wonders of festivals and history, the vibrant colours of traditional dress stretching from the Amazon jungle to the peaks of the Andes. Suggesting where to go in Peru from the iconic Machu Picchu to the remote tranquillity of Lake Titicaca makes for happy conversation and we very much suggest you include Peru on your travel list.

However, in good conscience, we believe balancing that advice with locations to avoid in Peru will also be of value to those considering a trip to South America.

Peru travel

Peru holds the enviable position of being the largest cocaine exporter in the world. What? Not Colombia you say? It’s an unfortunate close race. With a U.S. funded crackdown on cocaine in Colombia and widespread weed-killing by dusting planes, the shift of coca leaf production swelled in Peru.

In addition, according to the organization Verite, concerned with fair labour worldwide, Peru exports more illegal gold than cocaine.

Where not to go in Peru

Authorities estimate that 1.5 billion dollars worth of illicit goods including cocaine, gold, clothing, cigarettes, stolen cars, gasoline and more passes over the Peruvian border yearly with more than 100,000 people being involved.

Map of Juliaca and Puno area Peru

The city of Juliaca sits in the heart of a thriving smuggling business. Marketplaces of fruits and vegetables now are often replaced with appliances and clothing.

Smuggling activity in Juliaca Peru

It is estimated that 60% of the people in the city of Juliaca are involved in trafficking goods. Poverty remains an issue however, the streets are often chaotic with the crush of moto-taxis and trucks. The air hangs heavy with smog and dust.

Hugo Barrera, the customs chief in Puno, states that the combination of money launderers and drug traffickers has increased the danger in the area as the stakes get higher in this poorest region of Peru.

Where not to go in Peru

During our Peru travel, we flew into Juliaca and spent one night in ‘vibrant’ Juliaca. We were instructed by the guides not to step foot out of what we were told was the only business hotel in the city.

Where not to go in Peru


If travelling to Lake Titicaca, you may need to fly into Juliaca. As much as we would love to tell you about the hidden gems to be found in the city, in our opinion, and the recommendation of our guides, this is one location In Peru not to explore. If you do find yourself in Juliaca we recommend caution and safe travel practices.

Pin this article for future reference.

 Where not to go in Peru

Have you found a location in your travels you would not recommend?