When traveling the world, some countries are safer than others. Sometimes it’s just a gut feeling that tells you to stay in your hotel or explore every little corner of your destination. This may be especially true for countries in Latin America because the news coverage may not make you feel 100% comfortable. To give you some insight, here are 7 of the safest places to visit in Latin America!
By the way: All the countries and regions are safer than the U.S. according to the Global Peace Index 2019.
If you are going to one of these places in Latin America or anywhere else, always use your common sense. Be conscious about your surroundings and check your belongings. Nobody can be sure to find his backpack again, after leaving it unattended.
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Ecuador 🇪🇨 – Full of Colors
Full of natural gems, Ecuador is a wonderful safe choice when visiting South America. With an estimated population of just 16.5m, Ecuador ranks 7th, but 3rd when it comes to overall safety. Especially the Galapagos Islands archipelago, which is about 620 miles (or 1000 kilometers) off the coast in the Pacific ocean, has nearly zero crime.
Therefore, these islands are a family-friendly spot, bursting with unique flora and fauna. Who doesn’t want to see one of the Giant Galapagos Tortoises in real life?
Despite the northern border region with Colombia, you are free to roam the country and discover this megadiverse country. That’s not only a cool attribute but also an official name for 17 countries worldwide, boosting the world’s biodiversity. Home to part of the the Amazon rainforest (more on this later), breathtaking coastal regions, the Galapagos Islands and the Andes mountains, Ecuador truly is a unique place!
In 2008, Ecuador declared that nature has constitutional rights, making it the first to do so. This means that they do not treat it as property but recognize its “right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles.” By doing so, not only humans, but nature is safe and protected in Ecuador.
Costa Rica 🇨🇷 – Pura Vida
Costa Rica is a place that does things differently. As the only country being a “full democracy” in Latin America according to the Democracy Index, it also has a vibrant and mostly protected nature. About 25% of the land is dedicated to National Parks, Reserves or wildlife refuges. So expect to see a lot on your journey through the country. You could also travel from the Caribbean to the Pacific site in less than a days ride.
A great example of the peaceful mindset of the “Ticos” and “Ticas”, how Costa Ricans call themselves, is that they do not have a standing army. Only a few other countries in the world are doing so, showing great trust in their political system.
While violent crime was up in the past years, this mainly accounts to a few districts in Costa Rica’s capital San Jose. Gang-related crime won’t bother you if you avoid these districts. Most of the lush jungles and beach towns are great places for your stay.
Uruguay 🇺🇾 – The little-known Gem
Uruguay is a small and often underrated country, laying on the Atlantic side just between Argentina and Brazil. Relaxing on the fabulous beaches watching the sunset or visiting picturesque old cities, there are opportunities for everyone. If that’s not enough for you, you could even hop over to Buenos Aires in just about 4 hours by ferry.
With regards to safety, Uruguay is on the second place of South American countries on the Global Peace Index and it’s even improving. Despite petty theft and other crime, mainly in poorer areas, you can explore the country without any issues. This comes at a cost – Uruguay may be the most expensive country in South America.
While going to the coast, watching whales or wandering through Colonia del Sacramento is common, this is also your chance to explore the hills around Minas.
Amazon Rainforest 🌿 – Pure & Green
The Amazon Rainforest is spread across nine different countries throughout South America. The biggest part lies in Brazil, but Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru are home to huge parts of the rainforest as well. Not all of these countries count among the safest ones out there, but still, the Amazon Rainforest is an ecosystem on its own. Diving into the endless green forest, the main danger comes from the jungle itself.
Join one of the guided tours or volunteer projects in the Amazon Rainforest and discover animals and plants you have never seen before. The jungle boasts over 40,000 plants – and that’s just what scientists have discovered! Still, 50+ tribes of indigenous people are living in the area, without any contact with mankind outside the forest.
Going through the Amazon Rainforest on a tour leaves you with nature. You can go kayaking or hiking. Camp on the banks of the Amazon river, one of the longest rivers in the world. Sleep under the green roof and wake up to the song of the birds.
Argentina 🇦🇷 – Nature’s variety
Untouched nature in the Patagonian South, incredible waterfalls on the Brazilian border and a feeling of Italy in the middle – Argentina – Truly a place that has it all.
Well, maybe it’s because roughly 37% of the population is of Italian descent. That’s the first thing you notice in Buenos Aires. Cafés in big, crowded plazas, European architecture, and temperatures that are not too hot for a walk through the city. Though the nights can get quite “hot”.
Not only that, but Argentina is relatively safe, especially compared to its largest neighbor Brazil. The U.S. Department of State has no travel warnings for Argentina, and if anything happens in or around Buenos Aires, they even have a tourist police station in place.
If you want to dance, Argentina is the birthplace of the famous Tango. Move your hips to the beats! What are you waiting for?
Panama 🇵🇦 – It will never leave you
Just south of Costa Rica is another small country full of interesting things to do. Explore the hanging bridges and volcanoes in Boquete or relax at one of the beaches as you listen to the ocean. You can choose between the Caribbean or Pacific and visit the world-famous Panama Canal, which links them both.
The unsafest area in Panama is probably the port city of Colón and the border region to Colombia. Other than that, Panama is a great travel destination. If you haven’t seen a sloth by now, chances are that you will find one here!
To see how green this country is, here is a quick example: The capital Panama City has parts of rainforest in its city limits.
Chile 🇨🇱 – Explore the longest country
If you are looking for the safest places to visit in Latin America, as far as statistics go, Chile is number one. There were only 3 intentional homicides per 100,000 people in recent years, while the latest data on the whole Latin American region counts 22 homicides.
If that isn’t enough for you, just look at all the amazing things to do in Chile! Wandering through Patagonia in the South, looking over more than 500 active volcanoes or driving through the driest place on earth: The Atacama Desert. If reading all this this makes you thirsty already, Chile is also famous for its wine!
In case you ever get in trouble, as in most Latin American countries, a bit of Spanish will be a big help. However, Chilean Spanish is a little different and you may need to get used to at it first. Locals always appreciate it when travelers and foreigners try to learn a few words. In the end, don’t underestimate the power of some well-rehearsed phrases.
You see, traveling in Central or South America doesn’t have to be dangerous. Numerous destinations are as lovely as it can get plus you don’t want to miss out on everything they have to offer. Even in places not listed here, like Peru, Nicaragua or Colombia, your travel can be safe. It all just depends on where you go and how you present yourself.
Have you been to one of these countries? What are your experiences and have you ever felt unsafe? Tell us below! Or share this post with friends and family to show them that you are traveling to a pretty safe place!