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Is it Safe to Travel to South America?

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Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

From Machu Picchu at sunrise to the bustling neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro, South America is safe to visit for travelers eager to explore the diversity of nature and culture.

Travelers can confidently discover the continent’s diverse regions and cultural hubs with an understanding of what makes it alluring and safe.

In this guide we discuss why South America is safe. We also share the safest places to visit and information on how a travel expert can help you discover the continent according to your preferences.

Overview

  1. Is South America dangerous?
  2. What are the safest countries in South America?
  3. How can I stay safe when traveling in South America?
  4. Discover Safely with the Help of a South America Travel Expert

Is South America dangerous?

Metropolitan park cable car in Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile

The vast majority of South America is not dangerous. While certain countries may have experienced political unrest in the past, you can safely visit most parts of the continent without concern.

Tours in South America let you experience the best of the places you visit. That said, minor safety concerns are possible in all parts of the world. Petty crimes such as pickpocketing may occur in busy public areas. Although rarely affecting travelers on tours to South America with travel experts, you should remain vigilant when in crowded regions.

You can avoid any potential safety risks by keeping your personal belongings concealed and following the guidance of local experts, such as designated tour guides or helpful information from local travel specialists.

What are the safest countries in South America?

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil

Chile, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Brazil, and Colombia are among the safest countries to visit. With an understanding of what makes these countries safe and things to keep in mind when traveling, you can experience the beauty of South America without stress.

Chile

Ranking as one of the safest countries in South America and the world, Chile remains a favorite travel destination for its epic scenery and cultural diversity.

It is a colorful country full of captivating outdoor activities, cultural cities, and coastal sanctuaries. Breathtaking beaches and glamorous cities line Chile’s Pacific coast, glacial national parks paint Chilean Patagonia’s landscape, and Mars-like mountains rise and fall amongst the sweeping sands of the Atacama Desert.

Natural disasters do occur in Chile from time to time. However, your travel specialist can arrange an itinerary to the safest places in Chile during the best time to visit for specific experiences.

Safest Places to Visit in Chile: Santiago • Torres del Paine National Park • Chiloe Island • Pucon • Atacama Desert • Easter Island

Learn more: 7 Best Places to Visit in Chile

Argentina

Argentina is a popular travel destination and a safe country to visit. Violent crime rates are low, locals are friendly, and remote areas are easily accessible.

Many flock to Argentina to explore the vibrant capital of Buenos Aires. The city is alive with culture and you can visit historic landmarks, tuck into authentic asado, and twirl with tango performers. As Buenos Aires is busy, pickpocketing and petty crime are possible. For this reason, a short stay in the capital is often followed by trips to Mendoza, Cordoba, and other gateways to Argentina’s picturesque countryside and Argentine Patagonia.

Traveling to Argentina’s remote regions and national parks with guides is safe, as these places are tranquil, welcoming, and fit with exquisite accommodations.

Safest Places to Visit in Argentina: Buenos Aires • Glaciers National Park • Iguazu Falls • Mendoza • Córdoba • Ushuaia

Learn more: 10 Best Places to Visit in Argentina

Peru

Spend time immersing yourself in the mysterious Peruvian culture on tours to this remarkable and safe destination.

Peru is a magical place to visit, with postcard-perfect landscapes, ancient cultural customs and traditions to uncover, and an adventurous culinary scene to experience. With rare incidents of crime in Peru’s major cities affecting travelers, you can move freely, but with vigilance, during your travels with knowledgeable guides.

You can spend your time exploring Peru’s most magnificent places, such as the Incan marvel of Machu Picchu and the diverse Amazon rainforest. Traveling with Peruvian experts to warm and welcoming villages, you should experience great hospitality and safety.

Safest Places to Visit in Peru: Machu Picchu • Iquitos • Arequipa • Colca Canyon • Lima • Chachapoyas

Learn more: 8 Best Places to Visit in Peru

Ecuador & Galapagos Islands

Many parts of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands are completely safe for visitors. The small but scenic country and its surrounding islands are a dream to discover, with guides who take you on tours to its safest areas.

You should proceed with caution through busy cities as petty crime is possible. However, you will likely spend your vacation in quiet villages full of cultural charm and friendly locals. You will also cross the sparkling seas to lavish multiple-star accommodations overlooking the brilliant blue water. These coastal retreats are exceptionally safe and expert guides lead experiences on breathtaking beaches, to scuba diving destinations, and magnificent forests.

There are far fewer risks in the southern cities, quiet Ecuador communities, and on the islands, making your experience safe.

Safest Places to Visit in Ecuador & Galapagos Islands: Galapagos Islands • Montañita • Cuenca • Quito • Chocó Cloud Forest • Archidona • Puerto Ayora

Learn more: 7 Best Places to Visit in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

Brazil

Tourism booms in Brazil and visitors enjoy the best places to visit across the country on tours that are safe.

Brazil’s most popular cities attract visitors from all over, eager to explore landmarks and landscapes like the Christ the Redeemer statue and the bustling beaches. From contemporary museums in Rio to the Amazon Rainforest, you can experience the best of the country on safe tours with expert guides. Though petty crime and theft occur in the busier parts of Brazil, you can remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings to keep safe during your travels.

Despite its reputation among some travelers, you can travel to Brazil with confidence when following the guidance of your travel guides and taking basic safety precautions into consideration. This is the best way to experience Brazil’s unending beauty and friendly culture.

Safest Places to Visit in Brazil: Salvador • Aracaju • Vitória da Conquista • Maceió • Feira de Santana • Belem

Learn more: 9 Best Places to Visit in Brazil

Colombia

Colombia is a safe country to travel to as tours can take you to modern cities, remote islands, and beautiful countryside where crime rates are relatively low.

As you explore this exciting country and its many culturally dazzling cityscapes or breathtaking beaches, you can feel comfortable and confident with knowledgeable local guides. With an understanding of the safest places to visit and specific areas to avoid, you can enjoy the pleasures of travel without worrying.

It is advisable to take precautions in busy cities as petty crime, although rare, is possible. However, keeping your personal belongings concealed and your wits about you should help you avoid any risks. Contrary to an outdated reputation, Colombia is far more secure than most travelers perceive.

Safest Places to Visit in Colombia: Salento • Guatape • Cartagena • Palomino • Tayrona National Park • Villa de Leyva • Minca • Medellin

Learn more: 9 Best Places to Visit in Colombia

How can I stay safe when traveling in South America?

Tortoise on Santa Cruz island in the Galapagos, Ecuador

Santa Cruz island in the Galapagos, Ecuador

South America is vast and each country possesses remarkably different terrain and culture for unique experiences that cross regions and borders.

Travelers can stay safe on tours by remaining vigilant, following the guidance of tour guides, and protecting their trip with travel insurance. Below we discuss some of the most common strategies with which to travel the continent safely.

Research Your Chosen Country

Once you have decided on your destination, conduct additional research. You can gain valuable insight into your chosen country by cross-referencing safety information.

This resource highlights the safest countries to visit and the safest places to visit in those countries. Additional research will shed light on the country’s current affairs, economic situation, and political unrest.

Learn more: South America Travel Guide

Select Appropriate Transportation

You can enjoy safe trips in South America by selecting appropriate modes of transportation for your adventure. Some options are more reliable than others in terms of safety and logistics. For example, we recommend booking private transfers to remote regions and tours through the cities.

We do not recommend renting a vehicle in South America. It is safer and less stressful to travel with private transfers and guides. Your experienced driver and guide are familiar with the best routes, road conditions, and potential hazards or risks.

Be Mindful of Your Personal Belongings

Although rarely affecting visitors, petty crime is possible in busy cities and crowded areas. As with any international vacation, you should remain vigilant and be mindful of your surroundings and belongings while in South America.

You should stow your valuable items safely in a backpack or hidden travel bag attached to your person. You should also follow the guidance of your travel expert in handling your baggage in and out of transfers when applicable. Often, guides will advise that you only bring essentials on tours and do not carry excess money with you.

All of these tips are to keep travelers safe, regardless of crime rates and potential risks. You should adhere to these general recommendations wherever you are in the world.

Note Emergency Information Beforehand

You should have a comprehensive list of emergency information before you depart for South America. Ambulance contact information in the areas you visit, contact details for your travel guides, and the nearest public place to your location are important things to know when you travel.

You can research this information before you travel or chat with our Travel Care team for all the relevant emergency information for South America. As you plan your trip, they will provide updated emergency information to give you peace of mind.

Carry Travel Documentation with You

You should always carry hard copies and have digital records of your travel documentation when visiting South America. When traveling internationally situations may arise where government officials, hotel administrators, tour operators, and others require proof of travel documentation.

Having a digital version of necessary documentation makes these kinds of checks easy. Having hard copies is beneficial in rural areas without modern technological infrastructure. Possessing a combination of both can greatly reduce the impact of stressful situations when visiting South America.

The types of travel documentation or information you should copies of include:

  • Personal medical information
  • Pertinent information regarding any condition(s) from your doctor, especially any medication you are taking
  • Emergency contact information
  • Passport
  • Visa, if necessary
  • Proof of airline tickets and reservations
  • Customs forms and documents
  • Hotel or accommodation reservations
  • Travel and medical insurance

You can stow printed documents in your luggage or a backpack when traveling in and across South America, while keeping digital versions readily available on your mobile device.

Cover Your Trip with Travel Insurance

It is of paramount importance that you book travel insurance for the duration of your trip. The best travel insurance is tailored to your vacation and will protect you in the event of an emergency.

These policies will cover the costs of cancellations, provide financial protection against emergency medical situations, enable booking flexibility during your trip, and mitigate travel risks as a result of global disasters.

Learn more: Zicasso Travel Insurance with Arch RoamRight

Discover Safely with the Help of a South America Travel Expert

Cannúa Lodge in Antioquia, Colombia

Antioquia, Colombia. Photo courtesy of Cannúa Lodge

Zicasso travelers visiting South America can have their questions answered by a travel expert. With unmatched knowledge of South American safety and the safest countries, they can elaborate further on the information in this resource.

Our South America Travel Care team will help you plan a safe journey. Your designated expert is available from the moment you contact our team or submit a Trip Request and even after you have arrived home. You can contact them at any time for further information, safety insight, and on-the-fly changes to your itinerary. Find inspiration for where to travel with our South America Tours & Vacations sample itineraries.

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