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Kate-AHF

Safety in Brazil/Rio.... am I being naive?

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We are taking a cruise in December 2019 from Rio around the horn to Santiago.  Just booked it.  Never been to SA before, and we are really looking forward to it.  Our travel agent last night spent 10 minutes scaring me about safety in Brazil, specifically. 

 

Whenever we travel ...we take what I think are reasonable precautions. I am quite "situationally aware" when I travel (and not just when I travel) and wear a small slash-proof crossbody on the side away from traffic.   and just wear simple, non-blingy, inexpensive jewelry  For the Rio pre-cruise and the Brazil ports I wasn't planning on wearing any jewelry around town, including a wedding band.  Up until I had that conversation last night, I figured that as long as we don't do something stupid or allow ourselves to get distracted or isolated, or visit the favelas, we should be as okay as we would be in any large city. 

 

Now I'm worried that won't be enough, and am questioning visiting the botanical gardens or Tijuka Forest.  Any words of wisdom to get my travel confidence back?

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Don’t worry about it. So long as you are sensible Rio is no worse than many other cities. We were in Rio a few years ago during Carnival. We went to the Ipanema Beach street party which was thronged with revellers. There were 4 of us and we were on our own, no guide. We never felt threatened or worried. The atmosphere was amazing. Here are a couple of photos, you can see how many people there were round us.

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Taking the normal precautions that you described, you should be fine.  DH and I have spent 3 weeks in Rio on two different occasions; our son was posted there with the State Dept.  We took public buses, taxis, walked all over the place.  The particular advice that our son gave was to stay out of the favelas.  On one of our bus trips to the center of the city, we weren't crazy about the neighborhood around the bus terminal, so we didn't stick around there too long.  Go have a great trip!

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You should be fine taking the precautions that you do. We just completed a b2b around South America. While Brazil was the one country that I felt the need to be cautious in, it wasn't that bad. The issue with Brazil is that there is a big gulf between the rich and poor with very little social safety net. Crime has been almost institutionalized with the crooks walking up and asking for wallet and cellphone, and then running away. But it is not frequent and common.

 

Our guide mentioned that he also had been mugged but he just gave up his wallet and continued on. You might want to consider carrying an old wallet with a few dollars in it as a throwaway.

 

That said, there are places in North America that have worse crime. The Brazilian people are very friendly and welcoming.

You will have a great time.

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Thank you all.  I'm going to stop stressing, take reasonable precautions, and get a decoy wallet.  (Oh yeah, and have a great time!)

 

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Posted (edited)

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Rio, but I will echo what others have said. Take reasonable precautions and you’ll be fine. I was with friends who’d been there before and knew their way around. We rode in public buses and in the most part didn’t feel threatened. The only time I got on high alert at a threat that I hadn’t considered was one night when we were passing a group of kids, probably none older than 12 years old. One of my friends quickly said to me “move away from them and cover your wallet”. Apparently it’s common for groups of kids to swarm tourists and pickpocket them in the confusion. Up until then I didn’t consider kids a threat but apparently they can be. Besides that one moment, everything else was fine. 

Edited by Tapi

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A few people on our ship earlier this year got mugged in Brazil (we stopped at several ports).  One kid shoved a guy while 2 others took his camera, bag and wallet while he was trying to take a photo.  I didn’t hear the details of the other muggings.  But, sounds like you are careful so just use those skills and don’t forget to be aware at all times.  

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What ports, and was it a flashy camera? In BA, a tour guide told me to hide my DSLR, while in Russia the guide told me to hold on to it.

 

B

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We used to have an apt. in Rio and were there for weeks and months at a time.  With not a whisper of a threat towards us.  A lot of the violent crime is in the favelas/slums which are the hills.  You can't just wander into them; you'd know where you're going.  We took public transpo constantly.  I can't think of anything we didn't do or anywhere we want to go that we didn't.  I've had a personal safety motto for almost 50 years: don't be where you shouldn't be when you shouldn't be there.  It's held me in good stead.  Everything you describe sounds just right for there and anywhere else.  Barcelona we got pickpocketed.  Nothing in Rio.  I'd like to slap your TA sillier!

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Frankly,   It is not a place where I am never going to soft peddle anything-  like some of the above.   it IS a place where you do have to be on high alert.   EVERY time I have been there,  there are always-  multiple amounts of people ripped off.  A significant issue in Brazil-  especially Rio-  you also have an increased chance of being injured.   Don't think, you are smarted than they are-  you aren't.   I have a very well traveled-  multi  trip Rio friend that went 1 block off-   and got held up at gun point by 2 young girls,  who took everything.    He was left with his underwear and socks.    Took a week to get out, since they had taken his passport.   Don't take out your cell phone,  it will get snatched.   

 

Santiago and Buenos Aries,  are close seconds.  Always a scam going on.   and again multiple people ripped off.   I spent 6 weeks,  there this season-  (I've gone every year since 2010)  and  loss is alive and well.   One woman,  lost $600  with a scam transfer fare.   2 others, paid 10x more for cab fares.  others had bags stolen off shuttle buses.   One, had her passport stolen,  and denied ship boarding,  until replaced.   

 

Do be VERY careful.  

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1 hour ago, Budget Queen said:

Frankly,   It is not a place where I am never going to soft peddle anything-  like some of the above.   it IS a place where you do have to be on high alert.   EVERY time I have been there,  there are always-  multiple amounts of people ripped off.  A significant issue in Brazil-  especially Rio-  you also have an increased chance of being injured.   Don't think, you are smarted than they are-  you aren't.   I have a very well traveled-  multi  trip Rio friend that went 1 block off-   and got held up at gun point by 2 young girls,  who took everything.    He was left with his underwear and socks.    Took a week to get out, since they had taken his passport.   Don't take out your cell phone,  it will get snatched.   

I'm astounded reading this.  I assume you read my comments.  I can't think of a single thing that supports your comments.  And as I said, we've spent weeks and weeks there..  If someone got robbed at gunpoint I have to believe they were up in the favelas...where they shouldn't have been.  Anyone who walks around with their passport, IMneverHO, deserves to wind up in their underwear.  We've never felt a moment of fear...but we're also not stupid.

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54 minutes ago, clo said:

I'm astounded reading this.  I assume you read my comments.  I can't think of a single thing that supports your comments.  And as I said, we've spent weeks and weeks there..  If someone got robbed at gunpoint I have to believe they were up in the favelas...where they shouldn't have been.  Anyone who walks around with their passport, IMneverHO, deserves to wind up in their underwear.  We've never felt a moment of fear...but we're also not stupid.

You aren't the only one who has traveled there,  nor an "authority".    These are first hand reports from cruise passengers that the incidents happened to.    I was traveling at the same time.    Just because you haven't had any incident does NOT mean it doesn't happen.    There are many reasons to have a passport.  

 

I guess you are calling "others",  stupid???    I've actually spent months in South America-  going every year for the past 9.   

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10 hours ago, Budget Queen said:

You aren't the only one who has traveled there,  nor an "authority".    These are first hand reports from cruise passengers that the incidents happened to.    I was traveling at the same time.    Just because you haven't had any incident does NOT mean it doesn't happen.    There are many reasons to have a passport.  

 

I guess you are calling "others",  stupid???    I've actually spent months in South America-  going every year for the past 9.   

Well, bless your heart.  (And I mean that in the best Southern way.)

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Say what ever you want just came back from BA and Rio at New Years.

Be smart our guide in Rio thanked us for not have a big fancy camera.

In BA we were fine but my husband was told by a cabbie to take off his gold med alert bracelet as we would be mugged.

At the hotel we saw a lady from another cruise group come in with a cast on, they told us she had a fancy watch on and a young man came into the restaurant the group was at slammed her wrist on the table and grabbed the watch breaking her arm.

Yet we walked for miles with no problem but dressed down no bobbles.

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6 hours ago, Trend said:

Say what ever you want just came back from BA and Rio at New Years.

Be smart our guide in Rio thanked us for not have a big fancy camera.

In BA we were fine but my husband was told by a cabbie to take off his gold med alert bracelet as we would be mugged.

At the hotel we saw a lady from another cruise group come in with a cast on, they told us she had a fancy watch on and a young man came into the restaurant the group was at slammed her wrist on the table and grabbed the watch breaking her arm.

Yet we walked for miles with no problem but dressed down no bobbles.

Right.  Don't be stupid.  There are neighborhoods in plenty of US cities where the same cautions should be taken.

 

We did see a purse snatching in BA when we were there for two days.  We never have seen anything in Rio but if you walk around with a "big fancy camera" anywhere you're just asking for it.

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