Traveling within Chile is generally safe, and the vast majority of visitors never experience a problem with crime.
Violent crime is a rarity. More common crimes involve pick-pocketing or thefts from purses, backpacks, or rental cars particularly in Santiago, Valparaíso, Concepción, Villarrica and Viña del Mar. Small bags and purses have been stolen from hotel and hostel lobbies, and from the backs of chairs at bars and restaurants. Make sure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Be on your guard in crowded places, especially markets and festivals, metro (subway) stations, trains, buses and taxis, as well as cafés and restaurants popular with tourists. Avoid poorer residential areas (poblaciones).
General Safety in Chile
Do not show signs of affluence – wherever you go, don’t wear expensive clothing or flashy jewelry, and don’t handle money in public. Keep cameras in a secure camera bag, preferably one with a chain or wire embedded in the strap. If using a laptop in public, never leave it unattended. Always remain alert for pickpockets, and don’t walk alone at night, especially in the larger cities.
Distribute your cash, credit cards, IDs, and other valuables between a deep front pocket, an inside jacket or vest pocket, and a hidden money pouch. Don’t reach for the money pouch once you’re in public.
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Pay attention when drinks are prepared and served, especially in the Bellavista neighborhood of Santiago. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
If driving a rental car or taking a taxi be sure not to leave any of your personal belongings in the car. Thieves have punctured tires in order to distract foreigners and steal their belongings from the vehicle.
Other types of safety in Chile may be related to mother nature and other various events.
Volcanos in Chile
Volcano climbing is a popular activity in Chile, with Volcán Villarrica, near Pucón, and Volcán Osorno the most popular. But some of these mountains are also among South America’s most active volcanoes. CONAF, the agency in charge of national parks, cuts off access to any volcano at the slightest hint of abnormal activity. Check with CONAF before heading out on any hike in this region. — www.conaf.cl —
Earthquakes in Chile
Chile lies in an active seismic zone and is prone to major earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Several of the strongest earthquakes in history have occurred in Chile.
In the event of an earthquake in Chile, exercise common sense (don’t take elevators and move away from heavy objects that may fall) and follow instructions if you are in a public place (hotel, metro, museum, etc.) If you are in a coastal location, listen for tsunami sirens, or simply follow the tsunami evacuation route (indicated by signs in the streets) or head to high ground. Visitors should familiarize themselves with local evacuation procedures and protocols.
Demonstrations in Chile
Demonstrations can occur in Santiago and Valparaiso, and occasionally elsewhere in the country. Visitors traveling to Chile should monitor local news reports and avoid large crowds and demonstrations, as some may turn violent without warning.
Minefields in Chile
Minefields are found in Chile’s northern border region with Peru and Bolivia and around the southern border with Argentina in Patagonia. Minefields are generally marked, but markers may have shifted or may not be visible. Follow clearly identified roads and trails when traveling in minefield areas. Border crossings should only be made at authorized locations. Consult with park or other local officials concerning minefields and other hazards.
Flooding in Chile
The city of San Pedro de Atacama, the town of Toconao and the surrounding areas are experiencing flooding. The sudden floods are making some roads impassable. Border crossings into Bolivia and Argentina could close at any time. Visitors should monitor local weather forecasts, amend their travel plans accordingly and follow the advice of local authorities.
Sports and Adventure Safety in Chile
Chile is a popular destination for outdoor and adventure sports. Despite the best efforts of local authorities, assisting persons lost or injured in isolated and wilderness areas can be problematic. Before you go, learn about local hazards and weather conditions. Obtain information about parks and wilderness areas from the Chilean Forestry Service and mountain climbing from the Federacion de Andinismo de Chile and weather forecasts from the Chilean Meteorological Service. Report missing or injured persons immediately to the police. Inform park rangers, police, or other local authorities of your itinerary.
Mountains and Ski Resorts Safety in Chile
Chile’s mountains and ski resorts are the recreational destination for hundreds of skiers and snowboarders each year. The main ski centers in Chile have good safety standards with will groomed pistes, ski and snowboard lessons with certified instructors, and clear signals for closure and opening of pistes. Skiing and snowboarding, however, are inherently dangerous sports and a number of people die at Chile’s ski resorts each year. Skiers and snowboarders should respect the rules of each ski resort and be aware that skiing or boarding out of the bounds is extremely dangerous.
Women and Safety in Chile
Many women travel alone or in groups in Chile with no problems. Chilean men are less aggressive in their machismo than men in other South American countries (they will seldom, for example, approach a woman they don’t know), but it’s still an aspect of the culture (they will make comments when a woman walks by). Single women should not walk alone at night, especially in larger cities.
Emergency Numbers in Chile
Here are some emergency numbers to keep on hand during your visit to Chile:
– Police 133
– Fire Dept 132
– Ambulance 131
– Police Investigations 134
– Drug Hot-Line 135
– Air Search and Rescue 138
– HELP (this is an ambulance service that services some of Santiago’s private hospitals)
– Private Ambulance Service (2) 631 0310
– Banmedica Emergencia Movil (Private ambulance service) (2) 787 3535
– Ambulancia Santa Lucia (Private Ambulance Service)
– Poison Control (2) 635 3800
– Crisis Hotline (2) 335 2100
– Rape and Intrafamily (2) 689 3070
– Search and Rescue (2) 697 1670
– Red Cross (2) 777 1448