Is South America Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

Traveling through South America can have varying levels of safety, largely dependent on the specific countries and locations you visit. Urban areas and popular tourist destinations are generally well-policed and safe, though it is still wise to exercise caution, particularly at night. Petty crime and pickpocketing can be common in crowded spaces. In more rural or remote regions, safety conditions can be less predictable and may require extra vigilance. As always, reaching out to local tourist information, staying in touch with your country’s embassy or consulate, and exercising general safety precautions all contribute to maintaining your wellbeing while traveling.

Safety rating

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Safety index

Safety at night:Unsafe

South Americalike many destinations, varies greatly in safety from area to area. Urban locations and tourist hotspots are generally safer due to increased policing and surveillance, but remote regions can have less security. Nighttime can heighten safety risks, especially when walking alone, due to limited visibility and fewer people around. It is advisable to stay in well-populated, public areas, avoid unfamiliar neighborhoods at night, and always use reputable transportation services instead of walking.

Public transportation:Moderate

Public transportation in South America varies greatly by country and even by city. In well-populated regions, it's generally fairly safe, with metro systems and bus services frequently used by locals and tourists alike. However, theft can occur, especially in crowded conditions where pickpocketing is a hazard. Night bus travel could potentially be riskier due to potential robberies. Always maintain vigilance and keep a close eye on your belongings.

Street harassment:High

While experiences may vary, street harassment can occasionally be an issue for solo female travelers in South America. It is usually manifested in the form of cat-calling or persistent attention. This doesn’t mean it's a dangerous place to travel, and many women have fantastic times in this vibrant continent. However, it's always important to stay aware of your surroundings and trust your gut instincts.

Petty crimes:High

Petty crimes such as pickpocketing, bag snatching, and opportunistic theft, especially in major urban areas and places frequented by tourists, are prevalent in parts of South America. Additionally, scams, taxi fraud, and credit card cloning are not uncommon. It's always important to stay aware of your belongings, not to display luxury items, and avoid unnecessary attention. However, experiences may be different in each country and even each city or region in South America.

Tap water:Unsafe

Tap water safety can vary widely in South America. Although in some areas like Chile and Uruguay, it is generally safe, in other places like Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador you should avoid drinking tap water due to risk of contaminants and waterborne diseases. Bottled water is a much safer choice throughout the region.

Is South America safe to travel?

3.9 /5

Based on 7 experiences

Solo travel experience

I went alone to Colombia (Bogota, Medellin), Ecuador (Quito, Banos, Cuenca), Peru (Trujillo, Lima, Cusco, Puno, Arequipa), Chile (Iquique, Santiago, Punto Arenas), and Argentina (Ushuaia, Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Mendoza). I booked several flights, but I primarily traveled from place to place by bus. South American long-haul buses are generally very affordable and surprisingly comfortable. In terms of safety, not only did I never have a terrifying experience, but I also had a few amazing experiences when complete strangers, with whom I barely shared a language, were incredibly kind.

Posted: June 19, 2023
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Is South America safe for women?

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Alejandra

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My name is Alejandra, I am 32 years old and I love to meet new people and show foreigners my city and our customs. I organize a language exchange event called Santiago Speaks, where local people and also people from different countries meet to practice languages and get to know each other. If you are interested in attending just talk to me :)

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Maricí

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I'm a girl that loves traveling, learning and sharing cultures.

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Cristina

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3 days

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Safety in South America