South & Central 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. Most land borders are still shut.

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 seem difficult at the moment but may improve.

Below is a very short summary of the current situation but check with FCDO as the picture changes the whole time. Entry requirements and measures: FCDO


Covid Entry Situation (updated 21/1/22)

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 - Double vaccination & negative PCR test 72 hours before arrival and health declaration form. Land borders now open but most neighbours still shut. 

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. Border with Brazil temporarily closed. The border with Paraguay is reported as open.

Chile - Open. Comply with vaccination validation (mobility pass) PCR on arrival to avoid 5 day quarantine & insurance proof of £30K Covid cover.

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. 

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.

Uruguay - Closed.

Venezuela - Closed. FCDO advise against all but essential travel due to security situation
Belize - Open. Negative PCR by air or land borders
El Salvador - Open. Negative PCR & double vaccine  
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 may shut at short notice.
Guatemala - Open. Negative PCR & double vaccine
Honduras - Open. Negative PCR & double vaccine
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.
Guatemala - Open. Negative PCR & double vaccine
Honduras - Open. Negative PCR & double vaccine
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.

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.

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. The second vote on the presidential election will be held on 19 Dec 21, with voters left between a polarisng a right or left wing choice.   

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 and in September 21 a gang warfare riot in a jaili n Guayaquil left over 150 prisoners dead. In October 2021, a state of emergency was declared in the Guayaquil area but this measure should not affect visitors although local demonstrations may disrupt roads.

In Peru & Bolivia, the bus company Cruz Del Sur is recommended, we have received some very positive reviews on service and reliability. Political tensions have also occurred in Peru with the ousting of President Vizcarra in November 2020.

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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