Central and South America 12th May 2022

Cases of Covid-19 are now slowing and travel is beginning to open up. 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 12/5/22)

ArgentinaOpen,  All travellers must fill in an electronic ‘sworn statement’ form within 48 hours of travelling informing about their vaccination status and declaring that they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms. Must have medical insurance with comprehensive cover for coronavirus. If you are entering the country by land for less than 24 hours, you are exempt from this requirement. The border with Bolivia is open at Villazon & Yacuiba.

Brazil -  Open - If fully vaccinated, do not need to take a COVID-19 test to enter Brazil. Will need to present a vaccination certificate to the airline before boarding and during travel. To qualify as a fully vaccinated traveller to Brazil, final vaccine dose must have been administered at least 14 days prior to travel.

Bolivia - Open - All foreign residents and tourists must register their home or tourism address online. Should update this information when moving around the country. Failure to comply will result in fines on leaving the country. If you have been fully vaccinated, at least 14 days before you enter Bolivia, you’ll need to show a printed or digital copy of the vaccine certificate.

Chile - Open. If you are a British passport holder visiting Chile for less than 90 days, you do not need a visa. Passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay.. Review entry requirements into Chile very carefully. These change depending on the COVID ‘Alert Level’ in Chile, at the time of your entry. Chile is currently in Alert Level 1, A pre-departure test is recommended for all travellers arriving in Alert Level 1, but is not mandatory only in this alert level. Proof of travel insurance covering a minimum of $30,000 USD for COVID-related issues for the entire duration of stay All travellers need to complete an affidavit (Declaración Jurada) up to 48 hours before boarding Non-resident foreign nationals with two vaccinations will be entitled to a Mobility Pass valid for 30 days and those with a booster shot will be entitled to 90 days.

Colombia - Open. Required to show an onward or return ticket valid within the 90 day period allowed for their entry into Colombia as a visitor. 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. Surgical masks must be used by all passengers throughout the journey, from entering the air terminal, during the flight and at the port of arrival. Colombia has reopened all land, sea and river borders. Neighbouring countries may still implement their own border closures.

Ecuador - Open. For British passport holders visiting Ecuador for up to 90 days, you do not need a visa. If you plan to stay longer, consult the nearest Ecuadorean Embassy before travelling. Required to complete a Health Declaration Form with their itinerary and local contact details.The land border with Colombia is open for all travellers via the Rumichaca international border crossing, from 8am to 5pm.The land border with Peru re-opened on 18 February 2022 for all travellers via the Huaquillas and Macará international border crossings, from 8am to 5pm. Option to either present their full COVID-19 vaccination certificate (i.e. both doses for those vaccinations which consist of two doses), received at least 14 days prior the flight date, or a negative laboratory PCR test, taken up to 72 hours prior to boarding their flight.


Paraguay - Open. Fully vaccinated travellers can enter Paraguay by proving their full vaccination status, which must be two doses plus a booster dose (or in the case of a single dose scheme, one dose plus a booster dose). Do not need a visa to enter Paraguay. On presentation of a valid British passport you will normally be granted a 90-day stay in the country.

Peru - Open. Must wear two face masks or a KN95 mask on flights bound for Peru and must complete an affidavit to enter or travel through Peru as a visitor. If you enter Peru overland from Ecuador, make sure your passport is stamped with a Peruvian entry stamp at the local immigration office. If fully vaccinated, you can enter Peru without needing to test or quarantine. Must show evidence of full vaccination received either in Peru or abroad.

Uruguay - Open to foreign nationals who have been fully vaccinated no more than 9 months before entry. No longer need to present a negative lateral flow or PCR test. Must present proof of COVID-19 vaccinations (14 days must have passed since the last dose was administered). Must fill out the health declaration form within 48 hours of travelling online or through the Coronavirus UY Android or IOS app and have medical cover in Uruguay or travel insurance. It is advisable that your insurance covers any expenses due to coronavirus related illness, quarantine or self-isolation for the duration of your stay. British passport holders visiting for up to 90 days don’t need a visa,

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. British nationals do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica. You may stay as a visitor for up to 90 days under a tourist visa waiver, . 

El Salvador - Open. 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.

Guatemala - Open.Negative PCR & double vaccine. Negative test 3 days before arrival (at airline check in desk or arrival land border).Must keep to the social distancing rules and wear a mask at all times in all public spaces, including at the airport.

Honduras - Open. Negative PCR & double vaccine. All travellers 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 boading flight. You don’t need to provide proof of your vaccination status for entry to Mexico.

Nicaragua - Open. Negative PCR test. Land borders reported open but prone to closing at short notice.

Panama - Open. Fully vaccinated, you can enter Panama without needing to test or quarantine. To be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ you must have proof of a completed vaccination programme (see proof of vaccination status) and must complete the traveller affidavit form before entering the country.

 

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 experience 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 2022 rainy season is causing extensive flooding in many areas, the latest in Petropolis where over 30 have died. 

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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