Central and South America 21st January 2022

Cases of Covid-19 are now slowing and travel is beginning to open up. However, some countries such as Uruguay remain closed to foreign nationals and all those open have strict entry regulations. All countries that are open generally require: A negative PCR test, proof of double vaccination and you need to complete a Health Declaration Form.

Crossing borders by lands seems difficult and in many cases not permited at the moment but may improve. Flying between countries is possible but typically may cost arond $200/250. We would therefore suggest that travellers spend more time in a country. In most South American countries there is an enough variety of landscape, topography and activities. For example Peru offers coastline, deserts, mountains, Lake Titicaca, Inca ruins and so much more. In Chile there are ice caps in the south and the Atacama desert in the north. Below is a very short summary of the current situation but do check with the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office as the picture changes the whole time. Entry requirements and measures from FCDO - Click here.  


Covid Entry Situation (updated 12/1/22)

ArgentinaOpen - Proof double vaccine (must have completed course 14 days prior to arrival), must fill in an electronic 'sworn statement' form within 48 hours of travelling, complete App Mi "Argentina', negative PCR test 72 hrs before travel and must have medical insurance with comprehensive cover for Covid-19 including hospitalisation and the costs of self-isolation if required. Must take a COVID-19 test between the 3rd and 5th day after arrival and avoid large gatherings and social gatherings in closed spaces for the first 5 days post arrival. Land borders may open in early 2022.
Brazil -  Open - Negative PCR test 72 hours before arrival and health declaration form. Now proof of double vaccination.  All travellers to Brazil are currently required to complete a Travellers Health Declaration form within 24 hours of boarding. Land borders are now open, but most neighbours are not!
Bolivia - Open - Negative PCR test 72 hours before arrival. Vaccination certificate showing course completed at least 14 days prior to arrival. Those not vaccinated need to isolate for 10 days. All must show proof of medical insurance that will cover the cost of Covid-19 treatment. Borders with Chile & Brazil temporarily closed. Land borders with Paraguay open.
Chile - Open. Comply with vaccination validation (mobility pass) PCR on arrival to avoid 5 day quarantine & insurance proof of £30K Covid cover. Complete and Affidavit (Declaración Jurada) up to 48 hours before boarding. Generatea a QR-code by separate email, which you must show to the airline and during the health screening process on arrival in Chile.
Colombia - Open. You cannot enter Colombia if you have symptoms of COVID-19, have tested positive or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive in the last 14 days. Between 24 hours and 1 hour before departure, you must fill out the ‘Check-Mig’ form, available on the Migración Colombia website. You will receive a confirmation email that you will need to present upon arrival in Colombia. The Colombia/ Ecuador border is now open to all travellers via the Rumichaca crossing point.
Ecuador - Open. Negative PCR test, double vaccine & health form. Land border to Colombia & Peru shut to foreigners but the border to Colombia via La Rumichaca crossing is open in the day time.
Paraguay - Open. Land and air open. Double vaccinated, PCR 72 hour before entry, health and insurance declaration forms. Another PCR 5 days after arrival. Paraguay/ Brazil borders reported as open as is the Paraguay/Bolivian border.
Peru - Open. Passengers need to wear two face masks on flights bound for Peru and must complete an affidavit before travel. All passengers to Peru of 12 years old or more whose final destination is Peru must show evidence of vaccination received at least 14 days before boarding, otherwise they can show proof of a negative result from a COVID-19 PCR (molecular) test, issued a maximum of 72 hours before the flight departs. Land borders with Ecuador, Bolivia & Chile are currently shut.
Uruguay - Must be fully vaccinated no more than 9 months before entry. Unvaccinated foreign nationals are not currently permitted to travel to the country. Negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of travelling, proof of COVID-19 vaccinations (15 days must have passed since the last dose was administered). Health declaration and medical insurance required.
Venezuela - Closed. FCDO advise against all but essential travel due to security situation.

Belize - Open. Negative PCR by air or land borders.
Costa Rica: Open. Complete health form - https://salud.go.cr. Proof of vaccine for venues, bars etc from 8 Jan 22. The border with Panama is reported to be occasionally open but shuts at short notice.  
El Salvador - Open. You do not need proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter the country but bring proof of vaccination with you, as this may occasionally be required for entry to specific events.Contact Embassy of El Salvador in London for information on other migration requirements and documentation that you may need prior to travelling.
Guatemala - Open. Negative PCR & double vaccine. Negative test 3 days before arrival (at airline check in desk or arrival land border).
Honduras - Open. Negative PCR & double vaccine. All travelers entering or exiting Honduras must complete the immigration pre-check form at https://prechequeo.inm.gob.hn. You will receive a confirmation email, which you should print and carry with you.
Mexico - Open. Require to complete 'Mexico Vueala Seguro Platform' before borading flight.
Nicaragua - Open. Negative PCR test. Land borders reported open but prone to closing at short notice. 
Panama - Open. Complete health form.

We advise against all travel to Venezuela, the country is currently very unstable with mass protests against the government, food shortage and general chaos.

Argentina, Brazil, Uraguay & Paraguay experince record summer temperatures. 

In Brazil there is a significant risk of being mugged in the big cities and in some cases where the victim is marched to an ATM machine. The current poor economic situation, further damaged by Covid, is leading to a significant increase in crime. There have been many cases of mass robberies of people on the beaches of Copocabana and Ipanema beaches in Rio. If you are mugged, you MUST comply to demands and hand over some cash. It’s worth carrying some mugging money!

The general poor economic situation in Argentina and street protests may continue. Relations with the UK over the Falkland Islands (known as Malvinas Island in Argentina) have improved, but all British visitors should have some knowledge of the conflict of 1982, especially the sinking of the cruiser Belgrano by HMS Conquerer. There are high levels of crime in many Argentinian cities, especially Buenos Aires, so avoid taking high value items onto the streets and never resist a robbery, always comply. Due to the weakest of the peso Argentiana has become cheap for travellers.

Chile due to its geography, offers a huge range of outdoor and cultural options from the stunning Lake District in the south to the northern Atacama Desert. Crime levels in the cities are higher than one might imagine. The Peso has dropped significantly in value, but generally it’s a fabulous country with the nicest of people.   

Colombia is certainly safer than it was three or four years ago but jungle areas near both the Ecuadorian and Venezuelan border should be avoided. The FCDO Travel Advice website has a good map showing areas that MUST be avoided. The rebel grouping FARC signed a historic ceasefire deal with the government on 13 November 2016.  The other smaller rebel group, the ELN, also declared a ceasefire in September 2017 but this ended in mid-January 2018, with an attack against the Army.

For those wishing to understand the background the civil war in Colombia, Tom Feiling's book "Short Walks from Bogota" is a good read. So Colombia is much safer than a decade ago, is a wonderful destination but caution is required, there are high levels of crime in many urban areas.   

In recent months Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador have experienced some civil unrest, generally related to worsening economic situation. Ecuador has been subject to a wave of gang warfare killings in 2021. In October 2021, a state of emergency was declared in the Guayaquil area but this measure should not affect visitors. In general Ecuador is much less busy and less commerical than Peru with so many travelling opportunties. Peru is very diverse and gappers could easily spend 6 weeks in country. Pricies around Cusco have become really that expensive so do plan. The Inca trail can cost up to $500. 

In Peru & Bolivia, the bus company Cruz Del Sur is recommended, we have received some very positive reviews on service and reliability. We recommend booking directly with the bus company and not via the hostel and pay a little more to get a good night sleeper bus.

The crime rate in Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras is of particular concern. Travellers need to be prepared to minimise the chances of becoming a victim of crime but also be prepared to get mugged - just comply. Crime level have risen as a result of Covid.


Costa Rica is more expensive than other Central American countries but is stable with superb national parks and opportunities for adventure activities. Many people have found a visit to El Salvador very rewarding.

The whole of the western coast of South America is vulnerable to earthquakes, travellers should seek advice from the locals as to what to do in the event of a earthquake. On 16 April 2016, a large earthquake hit North-West Ecuador, killing over 440 people and a powerful quake struck the Chilean Lake district in mid-December 2016. Mexico was hit by two powerful earthquakes in 2017 and two smaller ones have occurred in 2021. The west coast & some central areas are an active earthquake zone.   


  
Diseases


Since 2014, there has been a rapid increase in cases of Chikungunya Fever across Central America and Caribbean, caused by day-biting mosquitos. Chikungunya has similar symptoms to Dengue Fever which is also a continued risk in Central and South America, The WHO is now advising visitors to Sao Paulo state to have a Yellow Fever vaccination and Bolivia has seem some cases so check whether you need a Yellow Fever certificate before departure.

The Zika Virus, spread again by Aedes mosquitoes, is infecting many across the continent. Brazil suffered from a serious outbreak in 2016, the situation has now improved but the threat of infections remain. Any women planning to get pregnant or who are pregnant should seek medical advice and may wish to avoid the regions. For most people however, the symptoms are mild and much less severe than Dengue or Chikungunya Fever but the long-term consequences of the diseases are still being explored.

A number of travellers visiting the Amazon areas of Latin America have tried the local Ayahuasca (known as Yage in Colombia) drug. This is a tribal hallucinogenic drug which we strongly advise not to be taken. It was very powerful and has unpredictable side effects, (of note, it's never given to tribal youngsters) and led to the death of a British traveller in 2014.  



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