Scratch any adventurous Seattle travelers and you’ll find they’ve visited Peru or it’s on their must-see list, especially the famed archaeological site of Machu Picchu. But for those heading to the South American country in February and possibly later, the U.S. embassy in Lima has issued a security message about the potential kidnapping of Americans around Cusco, the gateway city to Machu Picchu.
In the embassy’s online warning, it says:”The Embassy has received information that members of a criminal organization may be planning to kidnap U.S. citizen tourists in the Cusco and Machu Picchu area. Possible targets and methods are not known and the threat is credible at least through the end of February 2013. For the moment, personal travel by U.S. Embassy personnel to the Cusco region, including Machu Picchu, has been prohibited and official travel is severely restricted as a result of this threat.”
The U.S. embassy’s Facebook page also contains the security warning and discussion about it.
While the embassy says it’s confident of the Peruvian government’s efforts to ensure the safety of tourists, it said American travelers should: “Review your personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates. Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security and follow instructions of local authorities.”
Travelers in Peru (and elsewhere) can register with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. STEP enrollment provides security updates and makes it easier for the embassy to contact a traveler in case of emergencies.