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Any bad experiences in south america

Has anyone got any stories of being ripped off, tricks from people to get more money from you, scams, Being Robbed, kidnapping stories you´ve heard.
11 years ago, November 6th 2008 No: 1 Msg: #53722  
hey im planning a trip to Central and South America next year.............

Has anyone got any stories of being ripped off, tricks from people to get more money from you, scams, Being Robbed, kidnapping stories that you have heard.

I am in the process of building a website for people traveling to Central and South America and this will hopefully help people to know what to look for when being approached by strangers wanting to help or make money out of YOU.

I know this is a dark issue and south America i hear is a wonderful country but it always good to be prepared

Thanks and i await your responses

Reply to this

11 years ago, November 7th 2008 No: 2 Msg: #53791  
Hi Elliot,
I travelled Latin America recently for a year with my boyfriend. He got pickpocketed on our first day there - the metro in Buenos Aires. Otherwise, it all went very smoothly. Most people we met had suffered at least one loss - usually through not keeping a close enough eye on their belongings. Lots of stories of people putting bags in racks above their heards and then losing them during the long journey.
Amazing continent though, so don't be put off by these small trifles!!
Ruth Reply to this

11 years ago, November 7th 2008 No: 3 Msg: #53832  
B Posts: 5
Hi Elliot,

I've been travelling in South America all year and am absolutely passionate about this continent, although it hasn't been trouble-free and I blame that on my being a not-always-careful-enough single female traveller. Some of the things I've learnt from my own experiences and from other people:

- Be careful walking around Retiro bus or train station after dark and/or anywhere around the surrounding plaza - especially the side of Plaza San Martin between Retiro and the Manuel Tienda Leon airport shuttle terminal. I had my mobile phone stolen by a gang of teenagers that were hiding behind parked cars.

- "Distraction" tactics are really effective because it only takes a moment of confusion for you to lose all your stuff. It happened to me after I'd just got on a bus at the main terminal in La Paz. A woman sitting behind me tapped my shoulder to attract my attention towards a man outside the bus gesturing at me and waving a bit of paper. While I was wondering if I'd left something behind at the ticket office, she had grabbed my bag and moved to get off the bus. Luckily I noticed quickly enough to start shouting and one of the other passengers stopped her. The problem of fake passengers isn't so much of an issue on buses where your tickets are checked before you get on, but either way you are better off keeping your bag by your feet or on your lap and wrapping one of the straps around you. This is also a good idea in cafes and internet cafes: no distraction techniques needed there because your attention is already somewhere else.

- Taxi drivers in Buenos Aires are notorious for ripping you off, especially from the bus terminal at Retiro. One couple I met lost 200 pesos because the driver said their money was fake but wouldn't give it back (so small change is good). Another one drove off with a guy's luggage after he stopped to buy cigarettes (so don't get out of the taxi until the driver does). Although the remise service is recommended because it's more secure, I found it too expensive and you have to watch out for unofficial remise touts as well. I think you're less likely to get ripped off if you leave the bus station and get a metered taxi on the main road; there are hundreds of them.

- Lock the door after you get in a taxi, especially in big cities like Buenos Aires and Lima. Also try and keep your bags and any valuables out of plain sight when you're travelling by car as they are subject to "smash and grab" attacks especially at traffic lights or during traffic jams.

- Always get a licensed taxi (with unique ID numbers, phone numbers, company names, big signs on the roof, etc), but if you're on your own at night it's better to be totally sure and call a radio taxi instead. It is rare but there was a case recently in Buenos Aires of a girl being kidnapped because the taxi she got into had been stolen.

- In Lima watch out for taxis with lots of storage space at the back - there are lots of them. Look carefully and don't get in if there seems to be a lot of stuff in there covered up under a tarp (or whatever). A friend of a friend was robbed when two men hiding out in the back came out halfway through the journey and stole everything he had down to his shoes.

- In Puno, Peru there are tons of touts offering really cheap hotel rooms and tours of Lake Titicaca. Ignore them and go with people you are sure come from a real company. Also ignore taxi drivers that tell you your chosen hotel is closed and want to take you to a different one - that's common in Arequipa too.

- I heard a weird story from a friend who travelled around Chile a couple of years ago. She was sitting in a park in Santiago and was approached by a gypsy woman who seemed to cast some kind of spell on her because she was powerless to stop the woman from going through all the pockets of her bag and stealing her money!

Hope some of this is useful to you. None of the above has ever made me think twice about being here or about travelling alone and it shouldn't put anyone else off!
Kristina Reply to this

11 years ago, November 7th 2008 No: 4 Msg: #53849  
B Posts: 171
one place i could not help but notice was the buses in quito, i put a warning here on this forum

"pickpockets on quito buses"


its the only place in 3 months in ecuador and peru that i have seen any theft.. fingers crossed.

Reply to this

11 years ago, November 7th 2008 No: 5 Msg: #53864  
B Posts: 171
in terms of being prepared i will say what seems to work for a novice like me.

as i said i have seen hardly any robberies in peru or ecuador so far so
this is just avoiding the invisilble dangers that "could" be there but may not.. i does no harm to be careful.

  • dont bring anything you cant lose and just assume that you may get your stuff robbed at some point
  • scan your documents and email to self before going, (including a document with all the oversees numbers you need to call in case you have a problem ie.. you credit card is suddenly declined! )
  • dont wander around cities with all your rucksacks on you, dump them off at your hotel then do the wandering
  • plan your bus journeys and aim to arrive at new areas in the morning
  • your at more risk when you have all your bags with you so chose trustworthy taxis where possible (the bus lines and airports sometimes have special taxis) another option is try to pick a taxi with an old guy or a small guy driving it. if you dont like the look of it.. dont get in.
  • a workaround for the "that hostel is closed/i know a better one" thing, is just call and reserve a room somewhere before arriving.
  • when in crowded buses and public areas you can expect petty theft attempts. best remedy is do not advertise ie. bulging pants pocket, clenching tightly to a flashy daypack, camera bag, going through your guidebook in front of everyone.
  • choose safe bank machines in safe areas at safe times of day (check whos around beforehand and leave fairly promptly afterward)
  • take care who you accept drinks & food from. it cold contain a drug to knock you out so they can rob you (this is second hand information that has been told to me by lots of peruvians)
  • dont spend too! much money on your rucksack or anything in it.
  • save save save save $$$$$$
  • oh and learn spanish! :-)

.. you gonna have a blast! Reply to this

11 years ago, November 9th 2008 No: 6 Msg: #53974  
S Posts: 6
pickpockets are also very common i NY, San Francisco, El Paso, etc etc.... not only in Sudamerica , thy are are in the whole world,,, keep yours eyes open,,, Reply to this

11 years ago, November 10th 2008 No: 7 Msg: #54032  
B Posts: 171
indeed... the only place i have actually been pick pocketed is my home country ..ireland, some little scoundrel got my wallet out of my pocket as i slept on the bus.

though tourists are always at greater risk because they tend to carry items of value. and sometimes you stand out from the crowd in certain parts of the world. i think this is why there is a risk for travellers of european appearance in places like south america but i would not suggest that it is somehow worse than anywhere else.
Reply to this

11 years ago, November 10th 2008 No: 8 Msg: #54056  
S Posts: 6
elliot larner................please don't forget to create other or similar website about the ripoff, scams and sexual assaults in USA,,,,, not just from Sudamerica , people in Canada and USA , need to known where are the bad boys. Reply to this

11 years ago, November 10th 2008 No: 9 Msg: #54159  
Hello Cesar 😊

elliot larner................please don't forget to create other or similar website about the ripoff, scams and sexual assaults in USA,,,,,

You could create a website about the USA yourself, if that is your area of interest. Elliot Larners area of interest appears to be Central and South America.

Reply to this

11 years ago, November 12th 2008 No: 10 Msg: #54397  
B Posts: 137
You do have to be careful and I think just about everything has been covered above by Matty and Roojay.
-Download your photos frequently or have spare memory cards. If you lose the camera you don't lose the photos.
-Don't do things the locals wouldn't. If a lone female, do not go for a midnight walk along the beach unless you see packs of local women doing the same.
-Tourists from South America often experience some of the same things when they go abroad. It has to do with body language, clothes, language, not being familiar with the local scams and just standing out as not local. And sometimes it is just bad luck.
You may have a bad experience along the way, but you will also meet some of the nicest people in the world and see some of the most beautiful scenery.
Reply to this

11 years ago, November 13th 2008 No: 11 Msg: #54541  
N Posts: 6
Hi Elliott,

I've travelled through SA during the past year. I've been lucky all the time except for once: I got assaulted in Brazil when I just arrived in Paraty (south of Rio) at night time. I was looking for my hostel carrying all I had. Taxis can't enter the historic center so I was walking by myself in an empty street when suddenly two kids (16/17 years) pointed two guns at me. I did the opposite what one should do: I screamed and "ran" (rather slowmotion with my big backpack on) in the opposite direction. Very luckily, the guys decided to let me go and didn't follow me.

Afterwards I heard from so many locals (especially in Sao Paulo) that the best way to react is to offer them anything. They even try to make a deal with them saying "Ok, I give you 500 reais and my mobile phone, but I won't give you my bag". Well, I guess this is for people who a) speak the language and b) have been through this a couple of times already.

Generally, I recommend to always carry some cash in your pockets so you always have some immediate offer. Secondly, never scream. Especially young kids don't bother to shoot people, because apparently they are too young to expect serious juridical consequences (that's what they told me in Rio).

Oh, I'd like to repeat how important it is to take the right type of taxis. I usually asked some locals or the hostel staff which taxi companies are safe. Even if you have to wait somewhat longer for the right taxi to come: it can save lives.

After the first 3 months, I felt completely safe in South America. I would say one develops a kind of instinct after all. Which doesn't mean that you can be less careful, that's for sure.

Happy and wonderful travels. I love SA!

Saskia Reply to this

11 years ago, November 26th 2008 No: 12 Msg: #55739  
Sorry this is way late but I think there are some great comments. I lived in Northern Brazil for two years and never had a problem with anyone. And I have been traveling throughout South America since 1997 and had my first problem ever this past April. I was in the Peruvian rainforest, just outside of Puerto Maldonado and we got held at gunpoint by two guys in full camoflauge. One had a pistol and one had a shotgun. We gave up everything we had and they told us to turnaround and start walking. They wanted cash but being in the middle of the rainforest didn't help their cause. None of us had cash because you don't need it there. We did lose our cameras though. So I agree with one of the comments above; download your photos frequently or carry multiple memory cards. I lost a lot of great photos... Reply to this

11 years ago, December 7th 2008 No: 13 Msg: #56808  

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