What are the dangers of traveling in South America? Is it safe to travel alone?
The only danger of traveling in South America is not to have enough time to be able to do everything that on paper and from home was believed possible to carry out, everything else is “paranoia”, just to make an author – like quote. The title of the post is misleading, I know.
I have written about the dangers of traveling on several occasions and in this post I do not intend to repeat myself for a simple reason: the South of America is just like Central America, like everywhere around the world.
A place can be dangerous only if you put yourself in a dangerous situation more or less voluntarily. I have been here now since April 2012 and not only nothing has ever happened to me but I’ve never even had the feeling of ever being really in danger, I have crossed borders at night, as well as traveling mostly when the sun goes down to arrive at destinationss in the early hours of the morning, so as not to miss days of traveling.
The truth is that misunderstandings are had of South America especially when relating the countries in it to the realities of drugs and guerillas.
Setting aside tales of massacres at the borders or in confined areas, setting aside what is heard on TV news or is read in the newspapers about murder victims , blood and carnage at the borders or in the poorest neighborhoods of the large cities , the truth is that unless you find yourself in off limits suburbs of the big cities , where I ‘d like to understand why you would want to go , the chances of running into these scenes are more than rare.
It doesn’t need much, in fact, to realize that these events occur in remote areas, or between drug traffickers, to understand that we can hardly ever get involved in gunfires and bloody massacres.
The main problem that plagues Latin America is in effect tied to the drug trade, in particular that of cocaine of which producing countries par excellence are Bolivia and Peru … oh yes, not Colombia as everyone can imagine.
The production of this drug therefore has its epicenter in the two countries where the largest amount of coca leaves are produced and there are those whose job profession is that of a “cocalero”, Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia was one of these, once ready, it will be transported up to Colombia from where it is exported, I suppose up to North America via San Blas (but these are my assumptions … more or less reliable).
As I have written on several occasions, Latin America is not the South East Asia where, in effect, traveling is more relaxing and risks are significantly less, but actually by taking the usual precautions dictated by common sense, even in Latin American countries traveling can be done without fear and paranoia that makes it impossible to enjoy the trip but that bring on unnecessary and useless anxieties.
I have not been to Brazil yet , and I must admit that of all the countries in the continent, that it is, in terms of security, the one that alarms me most, but so far there has not been a single moment when I had thought I could be in danger, not even when I had walked the night in Quito or Lima, as long as one does not go beyond the delimited boundaries where fleets of police control that everything proceeds in the right way.
Want to go to South America but you are afraid to? Error! It needs very little to live this journey in total tranquillity … once and for all . The risk is that of not wanting to go back home!
Traveling in total security in South America
Do not walk alone in the streets at night
This is the number one advice , which I have repeated many times .
I’m not saying that you have to shut yourself in the house as soon as night comes but if you go out it is always better to take a taxi on return. They are generally quite cheap and it is not worth it to put yourself in danger by not spending $ 1 in transport .
Hung out with locals
The best way to enjoy a country and have fun and to safely know it is to go out with the local people .
They know better than you what to do , where to go , how to do . The South Americans are kind and helpful , if you speak Spanish things become even easier but cases where I have witnessed communicating even without speaking the same language were not at all rare . Nothing to wonder about then if you get invited to go out or to discover the city , a full immersion that guarantees deep knowledge and more security.
Avoid exploring the ill-reputed areas
Honestly, I have never understood what’s beautiful or amusing in doing tours in the favelas or in the ill-reputed areas . In Rio de Janeiro I know that such excursions are organized ( to which I will not take part ) but all the major South American cities have neighborhoods that are off limits where not even the locals , sometimes also the police would want to go . Why then should you go?
Warning about drugs
Drugs should not be bought in any case either here or in Europe or in any other place in the world but especially in Latin America I have to admit that it is everywhere in ways more or less obvious , it is not difficult to find but be careful, we are not in Amsterdam . Whether you want to smoke marijuana , or buy cocaine the risks are two: falling into the clutches of vendors who will take not only the money to purchase but also the rest of all you have in your wallet or to risk to be arrested … and I think that nobody really wants to go in prison.
Dress in an inconspicuous way and do not attract too much attention
I’m not saying that you should dress like a tramp but flaunting too much is counterproductive . , Jewelry and expensive items identify the person as a perfect target for a robbery .
If you have a good camera it’s fine to go out in the daytime to take your photos but it is not necessary to take it along with you at night when you go to the pub or to the discotheque . Attention also to smarphones in your pocket the nights when you go dancing . Cases where fast hands are slipped into pockets to pick whatever there is to steal, happen quite frequently .
Is South America dangerous ?
Once and for all : NO ! There are no dangers of being slaughtered or to become victims of shootings for the tourist centers . It simply does not happen . Common sense will tell you what to do , your instinct is fundamental . Travelling with fear does not help if not only to make you lose your time and to create interpersonal walls with sociable and entertaining populations that are more willing to help than to rob.