You’ve probably read stories in newspapers and seen reports on the TV about crime and violence in South America, and if you’ve always dreamed of visiting some of the exotic and beautiful sights in this part of the world, you could be forgiven for feeling a little nervous or even put-off by these stories.
Now, we can’t deny that there are safety concerns in some parts of South America, but millions of people visit every year and never have a problem. Many visitors say they feel completely safe, provided they are sensible and keep their wits about them, just like they would anywhere else in the world.
Yes, there are dangerous places in South America; for instance, Uruguay is thought to be one of the safest countries in the region, along with Chile, which has the lowest crime rate in South America. On top of this Argentina has a very low crime rate overall, and the Galapagos Islands are safe too. However it’s true that Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, and Colombia have had problems in the past, and remain on the so-so side of the argument – again, simply use caution.
Here are a few tips to help you stay safe on your adventure.
Don’t flash the cash
As a traveller you will be thought of as being rich, simply because you can take time off work to head off and see the world, and because of this you are a target in essence. However, provided you don’t flash your belongings, e.g. you don’t get your iPhone out to snap photos at every available opportunity, and you dress in relatively plain clothes, you should be fine. Make sure any gadgets you do take with you are relatively cheap, and keep them in a zipped up bag. Basically, just try and fit in as much as possible to stop yourself standing out like a sore thumb.
Be luggage safe
You are going to need to take luggage of some kind, there’s no getting around that, so try and travel with a carry-on bag only if at all possible; this might not be ideal but it will be a safer option. When travelling, keep your bag with you at all times, and don’t store it in the overhead compartments. On top of this, keep your cash on you, by wearing a money belt or trousers with a hidden zip.
Know your limitations
You might want to be the ardent adventurer, but be aware that there are situations where you’re simply going to have to be a tourist, and that means hiring a guide. This isn’t a bad thing, because you can learn much more from a guide than doing something on your own, but it also gives you a much safer grounding, especially in areas that are a little higher risk.
Of course, we also have to mention that whether you’re male or female, you shouldn’t be heading out at night on your own in an area you don’t know.
Keep abreast of developments
Keep an eye on the news, and keep checking your Embassy website for safety updates on the country you’re travelling in, and the surrounding countries too. This information is there for your safety, so make sure you listen to it and act accordingly.
Basically, travelling around South America is safe provided you listen to advice and listen to your common sense.