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Central and South America..Safe to Tour?

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Central and South America..Safe to Tour?

Old 11-02-13, 09:22 PM
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Central and South America..Safe to Tour?

Hi guys, I'm planning to Tour 6 months to a year in 2015.I was at first going to just go through the US, but after reading so many Ggoab Journals where they've toured through Central and South America and loved it I'm debating doing pacific Coast down to S. America. I was always worried about going South with all the Poverty and violence. especially Mexico and Colombia....what say you fellow Forumiters? Or is it Forumers?
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Old 11-02-13, 09:45 PM
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I have been to the west coast of MX. I don't think I would go back to the places I have been right now.
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Old 11-02-13, 09:52 PM
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I did a little exploration of this very early this year. The forum concensus back then was that Mexico was generally safe if you had a good head on your shoulders, and places like Peru, Argentina, and Patagonia were great. The tough areas were around Panama and Colombia. Panama especially seemed to be very dangerous for tourists.
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Old 11-02-13, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey
I did a little exploration of this very early this year. The forum concensus back then was that Mexico was generally safe if you had a good head on your shoulders, and places like Peru, Argentina, and Patagonia were great. The tough areas were around Panama and Colombia. Panama especially seemed to be very dangerous for tourists.
I've heard Colombia gets a bad rep and that its a beautiful place to Tour...
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Old 11-02-13, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Aerohip
I've heard Colombia gets a bad rep and that its a beautiful place to Tour...
It depends on where you are in Columbia, same for MX.
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Old 11-02-13, 10:39 PM
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How would you cross into SA anyway? I always thought by land was a difficult route (no road)
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Old 11-02-13, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by RWBlue01
It depends on where you are in Columbia, same for MX.

Same for just about every region in the world.
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Old 11-02-13, 11:26 PM
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How good are your language skills? Do you speak Spanish/Portuguese?
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Old 11-03-13, 12:48 AM
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its a long walk home, if you can still walk.
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Old 11-03-13, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by catonec
its a long walk home, if you can still walk.
Cryptic! Is this based on anything in particular?
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Old 11-03-13, 07:31 AM
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When in a higher crime area, there is a greater probabilility that you will be a victim of a crime. Many will say they went "south of the border" with no problems. And this is true. What must be answered for yourself is whether you can deal with the consequences if you are not so lucky.

And this is the same equation to be pondered every time you leave your front door. The difference is only in the probabilities.
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Old 11-03-13, 07:56 AM
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After reading many blogs over the past couple of years the impression I get is that people are more seriously robbed in America than I have seen anywhere else. A couple of bloggers commented on the local police would commonly stop and give heads up or even escort people through bad areas where possible. The only other thing I have repeatedly read were comments to be sure you camp out of sight off the roads and not ride into the dark when possible.
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Old 11-03-13, 08:52 AM
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As with past threads concerning Latin America, this will bring out (already has) plenty of folks who have never been to Latin America, much less biked there.

You're talking about an entire hemisphere, so it's impossible to generalize. I've biked in 5 countries in Latin America and each was different.

Also, you wrote about "doing Pacific coast down to S. America". Well, there often is no road along the Pacific coast, and in some places where there is, it's often not great for biking. Plus, most of the more interesting places are in the interior in the mountains. But I wouldn't want to tour along the Pan Am for long stretches, either. I've biked on short portions of the Pan Am where I didn't really have any choice, and I usually didn't like it due to traffic safety concerns.

As for violence, there are huge differences by country and region. Honduras, El Salvador, & Guatemala, have much higher violent crime rates than Colombia or Mexico, for example. OTOH, Chile felt like just about the safest place I've ever biked.
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Old 11-03-13, 08:53 AM
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Instead of getting advice from some anonymous folks on a forum, you should check out places like the CIA Fact Book and make your own decisions.

You wouldn't catch me going to many parts of SA. There are just too many places in the US and Europe that are far safer. I just don't buy posts like the one above. I have lived in the US for 54 years and I have never been robbed. I don't know anyone that has been robbed either. That is because I stay away from places like LA central, Detroit etc. This is where most of the high crime stats are coming from in the country.
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Old 11-03-13, 08:54 AM
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Mexico - You should have a blast in spite of the media and gov't warnings. Read the blogs of other cyclists who have traveled through Mexico to get a real picture.

Central America - You need to be more alert in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. Stay in cheap lodgings if you can. I've read that schools, police and fire stations often allow foreigners to set up an overnight tent in their facilities. Costa Rica and Panama have the best road infrastructure. Panama is overall very safe, BTW, but drivers are the least friendly to cyclists as you enter Panama City. There is an area in Panama that borders Colombia called the Garien Gap. This is where it is dangerous because it is nearly impassable due to its thick jungle, rivers, pontoons and, in the last couple of decades, drug labs. Lots of tourist head off to the San Blas Islands to be transported in lanchas to Turbo, Colombia. I believe some bigger boats go to Cartagena (a beautiful UNESCO site.)


Colombia - In spite of its reputation and some areas that might be best to be avoided, tourists in the last decade or so report having their best time here with amazing countryside, super friendly people and neat towns to be discovered. Let's not forget that Colombians give full respect to cyclists -- a country that sends lots of professional cyclists to Europe.


The rest of South America should be great. There was a section north of Lima, Peru on the Panamerican Hwy where bike tourists used to get held up and robbed a couple of years ago. I am unaware of the current situation. I understand there is a facebook account for cyclo-tourists going down to Ushuaia. They keep others updated with things they encounter en route.
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Old 11-03-13, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey
I did a little exploration of this very early this year. The forum concensus back then was that Mexico was generally safe if you had a good head on your shoulders, and places like Peru, Argentina, and Patagonia were great. The tough areas were around Panama and Colombia. Panama especially seemed to be very dangerous for tourists.
Unless you're talking about some rough neighborhoods in Panama City or foolishly attempting to get across the Darien Gap jungle where no road exists, I do not believe that Panama is deemed highly dangerous. OTOH, crime directed toward tourists in Peru is a big problem in several parts of that country.
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Old 11-03-13, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by axolotl
As for violence, there are huge differences by country and region. Honduras, El Salvador, & Guatemala, have much higher violent crime rates than Colombia or Mexico, for example. OTOH, Chile felt like just about the safest place I've ever biked.
Well said. You need to be acutely aware of your environment. Known the facts about where you are traveling.

While I am sure there are plenty of safe places to travel in SA, I still say there are plenty more to see where I don't need to invest in study of where to travel. All through Europe and the US, I can pretty much say as long as I avoid large cities then I will be fine. Countries in South America would require a little more diligence to determine an area of safe travel.
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Old 11-03-13, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclesafe
When in a higher crime area, there is a greater probabilility that you will be a victim of a crime. Many will say they went "south of the border" with no problems. And this is true. What must be answered for yourself is whether you can deal with the consequences if you are not so lucky.

And this is the same equation to be pondered every time you leave your front door. The difference is only in the probabilities.
Another great thought. The other issue is going to be the police. Can I trust them? Will they help if I get in trouble? For the most part I can trust the police in the US (some may disagree keep politics out of this please). If I am arrested here I know I will be treated fairly. If I get in trouble I know I can get help here. I don't know if that is so true for south of the border. That said I did have a police matter in Mexico on a SCUBA diving trip. The police there could not have been more helpful. Granted this was years ago, a tourist area and one of our part spoke fluent Spanish.
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Old 11-03-13, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclesafe
When in a higher crime area, there is a greater probabilility that you will be a victim of a crime. Many will say they went "south of the border" with no problems. And this is true. What must be answered for yourself is whether you can deal with the consequences if you are not so lucky.

And this is the same equation to be pondered every time you leave your front door. The difference is only in the probabilities.
Very well put.

https://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p...w/tw_1764.html
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Old 11-03-13, 09:44 AM
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OP, There is one other thing.

Have you been to any of these countries?
Are you older and more experienced or someone in their early 20s.?

If you have traveled to some of these locations, I think you have a better chance of having a great time and not getting into trouble. If you are in your early 20s having never left Canada, you will probably not know when a police officer is asking for a bribe and when OFFERING a bribe is an insult. You may not know when an area is just good poor people and when you will look like a good target for poor people.

As much as I love to bicycle, you give up a level of safety on a bicycle.
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Old 11-03-13, 10:50 AM
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Made a friend from about as far south in south america as you can go, Ushuaia, Argentina.

on the island of Tierra Del Fuego , though a portion of the Island is shared with Chile.

Though we met in Scotland .. he flipped hemispheres for the Winter, There.
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Old 11-03-13, 12:39 PM
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Hope so, I'm cycling Panama to Guatemala this winter.

Anecdotal yes, but I've lived and traveled in many countries and the only one where I've been the victim of a serious crime was the US.

Traffic is way more dangerous than crime anyway.
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Old 11-03-13, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by RWBlue01
OP, There is one other thing.

Have you been to any of these countries?
Are you older and more experienced or someone in their early 20s.?

If you have traveled to some of these locations, I think you have a better chance of having a great time and not getting into trouble. If you are in your early 20s having never left Canada, you will probably not know when a police officer is asking for a bribe and when OFFERING a bribe is an insult. You may not know when an area is just good poor people and when you will look like a good target for poor people.

As much as I love to bicycle, you give up a level of safety on a bicycle.

I've only been through the US and of course Canada and I'm 54...just the right age!
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Old 11-03-13, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Scubasteve1808
Have you by chance got a link to this facebook account you speak of?
I don't know about any such thing on FB, but there is a Google group for discussions by people who are currently on the road down there: https://groups.google.com/group/panam-riders

I biked down there a few years ago. One pattern I noticed was that locals would always be warning me how unsafe it would be in the places I told them I was heading to. Americans thought I was crazy for going to Mexico. In Baja, they said mainland Mexico would be terribly dangerous. In central Mexico, they said the people in Chiapas would rob and kill me. In Chiapas, they warned me that I'd better watch my back in Guatemala. And so on and so on. These sorts of generalized warnings aren't really helpful, but specific warnings about specific areas or even specific stretches of road are something to pay attention to. So be aware of your surroundings and talk to locals (which means, try and learn some Spanish before going down there.) Anyway, there is always some risk, so you have to accept that, and try not to let your worried state of mind take you over completely.
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Old 11-03-13, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris Pringle
I understand there is a facebook account for cyclo-tourists going down to Ushuaia. They keep others updated with things they encounter en route.
Another good source is the PanAm-Riders list: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/panam-riders
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