Figure out the best way to get from Central to South America, when you should book your accommodations for Carnaval and local language school recommendations. If it's on South America, it's in this forum.

South America Warnings


Thorn Tree Refugee
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Joined: June 26th, 2008

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  • Added on: September 5th, 2008
Everything this man writes is true... I am in Venezuela right now, and I would not suggest a visit. It is terribly overpriced, the women are not as beautiful as everyone says, and the dollar is even worth less on the black market now than in January...

Originally posted by djperry:
This annoyance is changing constantly, so be sure to get updated advise before going...

If you go to Venezuela now (Jan 2008), bring as much cash (dollars are preferrable, but euros are ok) as you think you will need for your entire stay there. If you withdraw money from an ATM in Venezuela, you will get about 2150 bs per dollar. But if you change your money on the black market, you can get 5000 (this is where you have to get updated info, it has fluxuated between 4000 and 6000 for the last few months).

Changing on the black market doesn't make things cheap, either. It just serves to bring the prices back to normal. For example, a cheap hostel currently costs 40,000 bs, which is $8 on the black market, but $20 with the official rate. A trip to Angel falls costs 1.1 million bs, $200 black market, $550 official. So it makes a huge difference.

Don't get stuck in Venezuela without dollars or you will be broke before you know it. In fact, I can't recommend going there at all.


Armchair Traveler
Posts: 31
Joined: April 27th, 2003

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  • Added on: November 10th, 2008
Someone had slashed my purse open but not gotten away with anything except a plastic bag of tampons...

Pwned.... as they say!
I want to surf your couch please! (novaats @ |


Lost in Place
Posts: 80
Joined: October 3rd, 2008

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  • Added on: December 9th, 2008
A couple of "I concurs" and a tidbit or two.

Cartagena: Casa La Fe is lovely, and the tiny rooftop pool really did us right at the end of a day. The walled city is safe but when my sister and niece walked around alone (light hair/eyes) they got a lot of touts. My sister was fine, but it freaked out my young niece a little. We checked out a mall and major supermarket in Cartagena outside of the walled city and are certain that other parts of Colombia are nicer.

Santiago, Chile: a pickpocket and bag-theif's paradise. Anything in the back pocket of a backpack may be taken and bags are routinely removed from the backs of chairs, etc. Many places have hooks or clips attached to the chair or table for you to hook your bag to. Santiaguinos know this, and plan accordingly. I have seen women's bags stolen as well, if they are not slung across the chest, rather dangling from the arm.

In addition, Chilean 1,000 peso notes are green, and the 10,000 peso notes are blue. In dim lighting, they can be confused for one another, and it's a common scam to say "you gave me this 1,000 peso note" instead of the 10,000 peso note you gave, esp. in taxis, where you can't see what they're doing. A couple of ways of dealing with this is handing the bill, saying "son diez" (lit: it's a ten), or insisting that the taxi driver bring you to the police. Or making sure you never pay with 10,000 peso notes in a taxi. Particularly common when taking a bus from Estación Central.

Cerro Manquehue can be dodgy. Try on the weekends, when others are likely to be there. Three friends were held up at gunpoint on this hike.

In Valparaíso be very aware of what & who is around you. Daytime muggings in the cerros are common, including Cerro Concepción and Cerro Alegre (most touristy) and Cerro Bellavista (where La Sebastiana, Neruda's house is).

But you should go to all of these places anyway (except maybe c. manquehue).

Paraguay: I walked into Ciudad del Este and then walked back out again without incident, but I'm certain it wasn't the smartest idea I ever had.

Border crossings in general: be sure to tell the driver you need to stop. I was the only non argentine/uruguayan on a bus that crossed from Argentina into Uruguay once and I had to get the bus driver to back up so I could get my passport stamped. Locals don't have to, and so he's just not used to stopping, I suppose. Maybe Uruguay doesn't get much tourism. It should, it's lovely.


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Librarian Gone Wild
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Joined: December 3rd, 2004

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  • Added on: January 10th, 2009
Cab drivers in Buenos Aires, Argentina do not like to put on their meter for you, dear tourist. When getting in a cab, if they don't hit their meter right away, insist they put it on. When coming from the airport, insist on a cab with a meter -- don't get in one without one. My friend paid 120 pesos for a cab ride that should have been 60 or 70 pesos. One cabbie tried to charge me 49 pesos for a 21 peso cab ride.

Mr. Tuttle

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Armchair Traveler
Posts: 34
Joined: November 3rd, 2004
Location: Salvador

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  • Added on: January 14th, 2009
Hello - I am currently residing in Salvador Brasil and sadly must report that there has been a bit of a crime wave of late. I have been mugged twice in the past month. Once it was sort of me being a dummy but the other time was in the Praca de Se, a fairly central tourist area with loads of police around.

Additionally I have heard from friends that a number of them have been mugged recently as well. the recent crime statistics were not promising either as there was a big increase in murders during 2008.

So, with that said, be smart and alert. travel in pairs when possible, don't carry a bag if possible and leave non-essential items at home. I love this city/country but it is not for beginners. Take care.
"I tell you: one must still have chaos in one to give birth to a dancing star."


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Lost in Place
Posts: 50
Joined: January 26th, 2009
Location: Chile

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  • Added on: January 26th, 2009
I think the biggest hurdle to face would be transport - trains arent used by the average white person in SA - actually even most black people are afraid of using the trains - and taxis are mostly 25 pax packed into a microbus and for commuting to work and back. The normal taxis as we know them are extremely expensive...buses dont run everywhere and are also not a reliable and safe form of transportation for most even if you find one running in the area. Arranged tours are best so that one can take advantage of airport shuttles and tour busses. Actually I would say that would be the only way to travel for a single lady in SA.
It is a country well worth visiting - wonderful place - and quite different from anywhere else!
If you need information regarding a Chile wine tour PM me.


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Thorn Tree Refugee
Posts: 11
Joined: February 10th, 2009

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  • Added on: February 10th, 2009
Oh, I see transportation is really a big problem when traveling especially if you're new in that place.. Hmm.. but the last information you've mentioned is nice as it good for single ladies.
Yellowstone camping is the best thing I've ever experienced last vacation.


Armchair Traveler
Posts: 49
Joined: December 21st, 2008

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  • Added on: February 10th, 2009
So I can't count on traveling as a single lady in S. America on buses etc. I have to do the expensive group tours? Obviously it is only a recommendation....?


Lost in Place
Posts: 80
Joined: October 3rd, 2008

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  • Added on: February 10th, 2009
I think there's some confusion with SA being south africa vs. south america. There aren't a ton of trains in South America, and most should be fine to take. The comment about what "white people" do and don't do tipped me off, since there's lots of indigenous people, we don't really distinguish between white and other, so much as indigenous or not. Possible?

The busses are generally fine, too, though maybe I'm biased because I wrote an article for bootsnall about busses (overnight ones) in general. You don't have to take an expensive tour in South America to get around.

Hope that clears up some confusion!



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Extra Pages in Passport
Posts: 3620
Joined: August 20th, 2003
Location: Edmonton, Canada

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  • Added on: February 19th, 2009
Avoid Avianca in general, but particularly avoid having a combination ticket partly on Avianca and partly on another airline.

The actual flying is okay, but when we were delayed, we were the only flight that didn't take off within an hour of its scheduled departure time, something to do with flying a plane that doesn't fly well in the rain from a city that gets a lot of it. The rescheduling of our affected flights was a complete disaster. The Avianca computer system can't communicate with that of other airlines, although they do cross-sell tickets, nor did they have any emergency contact information for Air Canada, which was the connection that we missed.

Eventually the person "helping" us wandered off never to be seen again, and we were left to make our own arrangements for accommodation and to get home.

Three days later, flights home finally rebooked, they somehow had no record of us in their system, though they did eventually let us fly anyway. They could, however, not issue boarding passes for our connecting flights, which left things up in the air until the gate agents for our connection finally showed up less than an hour before that flight was to depart.

Alana E.

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Holds PhD in Packing
Posts: 196
Joined: May 11th, 2006

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  • Added on: February 19th, 2009
I travelled alone in SA and didn't have any problems. Don't forget that you generally meet tonnes of people on the road and end up travelling in groups before long.
Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Nancy O

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Thorn Tree Refugee
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Joined: July 15th, 2009

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  • Added on: July 15th, 2009
If you want to read about what happened to me in South America (Peru) you can go to my blog at

I almost lost everything (including my life) in Peru, it was particularly dangerous around Tumbes and the Ecuadorian border. Search it out. Tell me your stories and I'll put them on a separate blog.
Just to serve as a warning to all women traveling by themselves.


Thorn Tree Refugee
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Joined: September 4th, 2005

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  • Added on: November 23rd, 2009
bigmatt, I'll be watching my balls closely (which is hard to do on a bus) to make sure they are ok & not shot off during my time in Peru. I like & want to keep my balls. Balls are good. I don't want to be one of the many thousands of Peru travelers who have lost their balls due to this senseless ball shooting or 'testishooting' crime. You hear about it often. What has this world come to when not even your balls are safe?


Guidebook Dependent
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Joined: October 2nd, 2008
Location: Los Angeles

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  • Added on: March 17th, 2010
Peru/Bolivia Border

This happened 4 years ago, but maybe they are still pulling the same scam. At the time, my partner and I had been in Peru for 2 weeks, had met super nice local people and our guard was down. We'd just finished Cuzco/Machu Picchu and were heading to Isla del Sol, Bolivia. We took a bus from Cuzco to Puno, Peru, and stayed there for the night.

Next morning, we went to the bus station for the bus that would take us across the border to Copacabana, Bolivia. There was a big festival going on in Copacabana and the buses were packed. We couldn't get on one. Suddenly a car stopped and the driver said it was a cab, and that he'll take us to Copacabana if 2 more passengers would show up. I can't remember how much he wanted to charge but it was cheap. Two local people appeared suddenly, saying they were going the same one. They put their bags in the car, as did we, and we all hopped on the car.

Again, our guard was down and we didn't pick up the red flags such as: 1) why werent the driver and the other passengers talking at all? 2) why didn't the driver charge me in advance?

We got to the border town of Yunguyo. The driver told us that we had to get into a building to get our passports stamped, and to leave our backpacks in the car since there were a lot of robberies on the streets. The other 2 passenger (accomplices obviously) left their stuff in the trunk and got out of the car, so we did the same. Needless to say, when we came out of the building the car wasn't there anymore.

I know i know, we were dumb. The lesson is: always have your stuff with you.


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Thorn Tree Refugee
Posts: 3
Joined: June 19th, 2010

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  • Added on: June 20th, 2010
really informative information and i am sure all the viewers surely learned that how warnings actually help us in our life...
try to make your life protected because it can ruin in the other hand also


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