It's one of the most beautiful continents in the world with a huge range of ecosystems, including the untouched beauty of the Amazon, the mountains and highlands of Peru, and the beaches and party lands of Rio. It's a place of unsurpassed beauty but if you are planning some South America travel it's a good idea to make sure you go prepared as you can for the different culture, environment and are aware of dangers.
Of course if you go as part of an escorted group a lot of these issues become easier. Using an experienced guide you can be assured you are going to places they have already checked over, and they can help you stay safe while still getting in amongst the culture to take home many authentic memories.
An escorted tour can also help you plan a trip to parts of South America you may not have even considered. For instance:
- Paraguay: surrounded by Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil this landlocked country offers two widely different regions and therefore experiences
- Ecuador: situated on the equator and is the smallest country in the Andean Highlands
- Bolivia: the highest and most remote of the countries in South America
Finding out the current status of many of the countries you are going to is a good idea if you are planning to go alone. There are often flare ups of political unrest in some of the countries that may not make it back to New Zealand's news. While travel specialists who focus on this region keep themselves up to date of these issues and adapt their trips accordingly if you are going as a solo traveler it's a good idea to research these yourself. While you do so also keep an eye out for which aeroplanes and bus companies have the safest records, so you can travel around the area with more confidence.
South America travel like any other, should be planned out with an itinerary that you can leave with loved ones. Then if there are any issues while you are away, they will have that as a starting point to find you. If you are planning to go into areas that are remote consider registering yourself with the local consulate, so they know where you are. It's a good idea to pack the phone number of the consulate with you as well.
Of course there are plenty of places that are completely safe, as long as you take normal precautions, such as wearing clothes that are not too flashy, not waving expensive camera gear around, and keeping money in a money belt rather than a handbag. It's a good idea to place any valuables in a strong box or safe if you stay at a hotel to keep them protected. Once you've got your head around that, you are ready for some great South America travel experiences.