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Is S.A. as unsafe as people make out?

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Is S.A. as unsafe as people make out?

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1. Posted by Andyroo (Full Member 109 posts) 11y

i really wanna go, and would love to find out from ppl who hav been..

•my spanish/portugese is practically non-existent (im tryin to learn basics), is it hard to get by on english?
•which are the places (countries, cities, attractions) you cant miss for the world?
•which are the places to avoid?

cheers

2. Posted by mim (Travel Guru 1276 posts) 11y

The answer to the thread question is: it depends on your attitude and the way you approach tourism.

Most of the countries (if not all) in South america have areas of poverty, as a tourist you should respect the culture and the fact that people may not have what you have.

I travelled in South america particularly Brazil for 3 and a bit months and didn't have a spot of trouble. I was respectful, left my camera at home when I knew I'd be walking around for long and only took what little cash I might need out. (be wary of using money belts, the theives know about them and often go straight to that.)

There is a lot of negative hype about S.A being unsafe, but lets face it theres the possibility of running into trouble in almost any country you visit, (I'll give you an example, in Manchester where I live there is a massive crime rate and students like myself get mugged and raped all the time,)

You just have to be sensible, streetwise and most of all NOT WORRIED, it'll take all the enjoyment out of your trip.

hope that helps a little

mim

3. Posted by mim (Travel Guru 1276 posts) 11y

Oh yeah, and depending on how eager you are to learn you can always pick up enough of the languages to get by, it's definately fun and worthwhile making an effort, if not, in a lot of the more touristy areas you should have few probs getting by with english

4. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 11y

I live here...I was robbed 20 years ago when I decided to go out drinking on my own late at night in a marginal area and passed out..enough said...I belong to a Hospitality Club and just hosted a visitor (a friend puts them up, I show around) and it is very difficult for me to escort around foreign visitors who speak no Spanish at all, they are very "needy" there are hundreds of Spanish Schools with homestays and volunteer ops in Central and south America where for a week to 2 months you can practice all day and night..immersion..before you hit the road..or if you can't study.. ..two options..get a Spanish/Portuguese speaking travel companion or stick to the touristy areas.

5. Posted by igetlost (Full Member 89 posts) 11y

columbia is dangerous for white non spanish speaking...simply because you are worth so much.i have alot of columbian friends and they even say its dangerous.little gangs rampant!!
everywhere else just the standard for any country applies..dont wave money...smile alot and i know this sounds stupid but bring some photos of different places.
even veneuzula is ok at the moment because the police take a no tolerence view on people that adversely affect the tourist ecconomy.
my girlfriend got mugged in la paz but that was because she was carrying a nylon draw string bag....
they used the traditional two fat women crowd you and someone else slashes your bag technic..
i have been mugged twice in paris so that would make france,for me,a significantly more dangerous place.....i still go there all the time.!
j

6. Posted by numero1 (Respected Member 295 posts) 11y

I spent most of the last 3 months in South America in Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia. I did not have any troubles or dangers present themselves to me whereever I went. I felt 100% safe. Admittedly, when you go to these places for the first time and you don't know what to expect it can be quite daunting and scary. Especially with no Spanish. But luckily I brushed up on my Spanish before I left to travel and I had no problems commuting.

I remember getting off the plane at Barranquilla airport in Combia for the first time, not knowing what to expect from a country I had heard so much negative publicity about. I did start to **** myself when I got out of the airport there, but once I was walking on the street I realised that everything was actually going to be fine and I would have no problems.

Don't believe the "South America is very dangerous" hype!!! That's what it mostly all is HYPE! (however I am told Caracas IS a dangerous place, even though I haven't been.)

columbia is dangerous for white non spanish speaking...

I am white non-spanish speaking and I found the places I visited in Colombia to be as safe as my home in Australia. (Ok, I lie, I do speak Spanish, but it is not my native tongue). Still, they knew I was a tourist but nothing happened to me

7. Posted by numero1 (Respected Member 295 posts) 11y

Quoting numero1

I spent most of the last 3 months in South America in Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia. I did not have any troubles or dangers present themselves to me whereever I went. I felt 100% safe. Admittedly, when you go to these places for the first time and you don't know what to expect it can be quite daunting and scary. Especially with no Spanish. But luckily I brushed up on my Spanish before I left to travel and I had no problems commuting.

I remember getting off the plane at Barranquilla airport in Colombia for the first time, not knowing what to expect from a country I had heard so much negative publicity about. I did start to **** myself when I got out of the airport there, but once I was walking on the street I realised that everything was actually going to be fine and I would have no problems.

Don't believe the "South America is very dangerous" hype!!! That's what it mostly all is HYPE! (however I am told Caracas IS a dangerous place, even though I haven't been.)

columbia is dangerous for white non spanish speaking...

I am white non-spanish speaking and I found the places I visited in Colombia to be as safe as my home in Australia. (Ok, I lie, I do speak Spanish, but it is not my native tongue). Still, they knew I was a tourist but nothing happened to me

8. Posted by numero1 (Respected Member 295 posts) 11y

Sorry for the re-quoting of my own post again (slip of the keyboard and mouse)

which are the places (countries, cities, attractions) you cant miss for the world?

Argentina and Colombia. Argentina for the great lifestyle at affordable prices and the plenty of breathtaking places and thngs to see and do there. From Bariloche, San Martin De Los Andes and Ushuaia in the South, to The Iguazu Falls and Salta up North there is some breathtaking scenery. Mendoza, at the foot of the Andes is well worth checking out - it a a beautiful city and lots of tours to do there (e.g. Skiing in winter, Alta montana, wineries, thermal spas). You can't miss Buenos Aires - The Cultural Capital of South America. The nightlife there is purely fantastic and the foo delicious and cheap. Tango shows, live theatre and great football matches make Buenos Aires a must-see city.

Go and see Cartagena in Colombia and the Islas de-Rosario off the coast of Cartagena. It is very safe (I was there 5 weeks ago). The walled old city is on the world heritage list, and the architecture and scenery there is spectacular. The Colombian people are IMO the most friendly and open and helpful of all the South Americans I came across on my travels in South America.

•my spanish/portugese is practically non-existent (im tryin to learn basics), is it hard to get by on english?

Depends where you go and who you meet. Some people understand and speak English well. Others can understand but are afraid to speak out of the fear of embarresing themselves in front of a native englisgh speaker, while others do not speak or understand english at all. My advice is to brush up on the Spanish/Portuguese before you go for an easier and more enjoyable experience in South America.

•which are the places to avoid?

I can't think of any off the top of my head. I'm told Caracas is dangerous though I've never been. Avoid Favillas, poor neighbourhoods and jungles

just enjoy yourself in South America as I am sure you will. Truth is it is very hard not to have a good time in South America.

9. Posted by Andyroo (Full Member 109 posts) 11y

Cheers Guys you've been extremely helpful!!:)

just been researchin into how to handle my money, what is recomended by yourselves? travellers cheques or cards?

wow!! this is invaluable information, thanks again!!:)

10. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 11y

Travel Tips for Latin America

What to Bring / Things to Consider.
Violent crime in Latin America is not as frequent for tourists as a simple robbery or pick-pocket. Safety begins when you pack. To avoid being a target dress conservatively, act respectfully in churches. Leave extra / expensive jewelry at home. Have a photocopy of your passport, credit cards or other important items with you and leave them at home with a friend in case you need the info while traveling.
Carry the minimum amount of valuables necessary for your trip, but make sure you have enough in case of an emergency…
Your passport, cash and credit/debit cards are most secure when locked in a hotel safe if possible. When you carry your money best to carry it in several places rather than in one place. Handbags, fanny packs and outside pockets can be easy targets for thieves. Inside pockets and a sturdy shoulder bag with the strap worn across your chest are somewhat safer. One of the safest places (against pick-pockets) is to carry valuables in a pouch or money belt hidden under your clothing. Bring Travelers Checks and some US Dollars or Euro in small denominations. A major credit/debit card are also advised for emergencies. {Note that many places add a fee of 4-10% if you use a credit card. VISA is most frequently accepted}. AMEX now has a debit card that works in ATMs worldwide, actually electronic travellers checks, you get a refund in 24 hours if card is lost or stolen. The cumbersome paper travelers checks are becoming obsolete, every large city or town in Latin America boasts at least one ATM and cybercafes, some charging as little as 30 cents US an hour, are everywhere.
Always change money at bank, casa de cambio or hotel. Never on the streets. There are banks and casas de cambio at all airports and some international bus terminals and ATMs in all large shopping centers in the larger cities that are usually open late and have security guards the ATM machines give either local currency or US Dollars, in Ecuador, El Salvador and Panama the USD, bills and coins, are legal tender. It is a good idea to bring several $1.00 US bills for tips and taxis. In general, smaller denominations in $ or euro and/or the local currency are better than a large denomination bills, often small stores or taxi drivers do not have change and this can complicate matters if you yourself are in a rush often the shopkeeper must send an employee to make change. The Euro is now widely accepted as well in some areas, though often you'll get a poor rate.
If anyone ever asks you for you money in a threatening way, by all means give them your valuables. Statistics show that more assaults happen when a tourist is resisting a robbery than in the general tourist population.
In general, always try to travel light. If you do, you can move more quickly and will be more likely to have a free hand. You will also be less tired and less likely to set your luggage down, leaving it unattended. There is laundry service available with clothing and other essential items readily available for purchase if needed.
Since many flights have minimum time between connections, pack any medicines you need and a change of clothes in your carry-on luggage - just in case your primary suitcase does not arrive with you…
Always check twice before you leave a bus, plane or hotel room for any forgotten property. If you did leave something behind consider it a "donation"... !

Be Aware
Be aware (but not paranoid) in crowded markets, bus stations, elevators, crowded tourist sites, festivals and marginal areas of villages...

Short cuts
Don't use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly-lit streets. Try not to travel alone at night.

In public
Avoid public demonstrations and other civil disturbances.


Keep it low
Keep a low profile and avoid loud conversations or arguments. Do not discuss travel plans or other personal matters with strangers. Keep extra money hidden

Strangers
Avoid scam artists. Beware of strangers who approach you, offering bargains or to be your guide. Use a registered guide - (s)he will have an identification card. Beware of pickpockets. They often have an accomplice who will creatively distract you or yours.

Purposeful
Try to seem purposeful when you move about. Even if you are lost, act as if you know where you are going. When possible, ask directions only from individuals in authority or stores.

Travel services
Use a reputable / known travel agency or travel service. There is a lot of competition for your tourist dollars and several similar activities at different prices. Always good to "shop around" and be an informed consumer, but sometimes a few extra dollars can save you in the long run.

Leave at Home
If you have a choice, don't bring anything you would hate to lose...
As well, leave these at home….
- Knives, nail cutters, sharp objects, lighters… (you can buy them at any pharmacy or tienda)
-- Valuable or expensive-looking jewelry.
-- Irreplaceable family objects or documents.
-- All unnecessary credit cards or other cards / items.

Antibiotics and most all non narcotic medicines are available in pharmacies..farmacias..without prescription..if requiring to take medication bring your own prescription from home..but have the Generic, not brand name, of the medicine in case you run out of supply.