“Is Patagonia a safe destination?” It is one of the most searched topics on the Internet regarding tourism in one of the remotest regions of the world. And the answer is: yes, it is!
Granted, Latin America continues to have a bad reputation given its political and economic history, regardless of tourism booming in the past decade.
However, Patagonia has always detached from the rest of the continent on many issues, among them crime and violence. Certainly, its remoteness and underdevelopment could mean a logistics problem to some tourists, but they are also a big bonus when it comes to peace of mind.
In fact, given the current social contingency in Chile, concentrated mainly in the cities located at the center of this South American country, Patagonia has remained on the sidelines in terms of security. Furthermore, operations at airports, ports, tourist attractions, and accommodations in the southern regions that comprise this remote destination are fully operational, according to the Undersecretary of Tourism of Chile and the National Tourism Service of the country (Sernatur).
In fact, in our case, as a travel experience company specializing in ferry transportation through Patagonian waters, our boarding, departure and arrival times to our destinations remain on schedule, and we do not register any difficulties.
Travel safety authorities such as the U.S. Department of State confirm that Chile continues to be Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution in terms of safety and security. That is, there no danger when traveling to and within this destination, provided tourists adopt necessary safety measures as they should in any foreign country.
The State Department adds that the tourism industry in Chile is regulated and that standards for best practices and safety inspections are applied regularly.
You can also use the recommendations by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office says as reference, which suggests remaining vigilant in case of protests in major cities in Chile.
Also, money is not an issue regarding travel safety in this remote region. If you travel on a budget or through a luxury travel package, you'll be safe regardless.
That's why tourists continue ranking the place as one of the safest tourist destinations on earth, according to Lonely Planet magazine. Particularly for families with kids and solo female travelers. Travel blogs like World Nomads and Nomadic Chica have updated their information on safety issues in Chile, and you can always check travel forums in TripAdvisor, Expedia, Fodor's and Frommer's for current travelers' insights.
Nonetheless, here are a few traveling tips regarding safety that are always good to take with you.
The kids are alright
Planning the logistics for a family trip can get a bit stressful, especially when traveling with kids. Luckily, Patagonia offers parents peace of mind regarding the fear of their children being kidnapped or suffering from mugging or robberies at gunpoint.
Screening through dozens of travel forums for family with kids like Lonely Planet’s and TripAdvisor’s, those who have gone to Patagonia and shared their experiences insisted they had no problems during their stay. Many parents highlighted that due to the remoteness, their chief concern became getting lost or getting stranded due to vehicle breakdowns or accidents. Meanwhile, some even went as far as saying they felt even safer than in Europe!
Regardless, it’s never a bad idea to adopt basic safety precautions like keeping kids from wandering off while trekking in its national parks or during hiking trips, given the large number of people who come and go, and the untamed wildlife that lives in the region.
Solo female travelers are welcome!
Solo travelers are a growing reality worldwide, and Patagonia has become one of their favorite destinations. Conquering its beautiful wilderness and enjoying its breathtaking landmark attractions can be challenging and rewarding, which is what encourages these intrepid voyagers, and safety concerns rarely go beyond the usual dangers and annoyances, from being mugged on broad daylight or money scammed.
However, safe traveling can be an issue for female solo travelers in particular. Certainly, unwanted sexual advances, sexual harassment and sexual assault are concerns that mostly affect women. And Patagonia, despite its remoteness, does not escape sexism and gender violence.
That being said, many solo female travelers who have blogged about their experiences in Patagonia insist that being outspoken, forceful and firm when being the object of unwanted advances by men in the street usually works.
Nonetheless, most solo travelers recommend some basic precautions when traveling alone anywhere in the world, regardless of gender: carrying a whistle to call for help, watching luggage and other belongings at all times (given thieves typically prefer to rob lone tourists), getting insurance for expensive gear, and often share coordinates and report back to family members of friends.
Patagonia is a safe place
In the end, it’s all about common sense. Certainly, like any other destination, Patagonia has got its petty thieves and occasional armed robberies, yet violent crimes against tourists are rare. Walking around with flashy or expensive objects is never a good idea, nor is taking money out of the ATM in a dark area or an over-crowded street. Booking accommodations in advance, sharing tips with other lone travelers, and avoid wandering alone at nights in rough areas, can also facilitate safety.