I came across an interesting article last week entitled “The Most Dangerous Countries for Tourists, in Maps“.
The article referred to an interactive map on CBCNews which showed which countries to avoid whilst travelling. It was based on travel safety advise from Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs.
I find it interesting to see which countries are labelled as dangerous and which are not. The big surprise for me was seeing South Africa being labelled as “Exercise High Degree of Caution”. I have never been to South Africa, however it is well documented as having one of the highest rates of homicides, rapes and assaults. They have given it the same warning level as many South American countries I have travelled in over the last few months including Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Brasil. I have no doubt each of these countries have dangerous areas, however I travelled extensively in all of these countries and always felt safe. Much safer than many western cities such as New York or London.
The USA state department advises against Colombia too, which is where I am staying now (my girlfriend is Colombian). Two weeks ago we travelled up from Ecuador to Colombia by bus. This is something that most governments advise against as there are reportedly many kidnappings at the border, however I didn't see anything to suggest that it was dangerous.
We then travelled up to Cali, which is Colombia's third biggest city, and the biggest city in the south of the country. We stayed with a friend and we had a fantastic time at the national park and in the old Colonial area, however I did see why Cali has a reputation as being unsafe. There were a lot of homeless people in the city and we drove through some very dangerous areas in our last day. Perhaps I saw the city in a different light after reading on Wikipedia that there are “1,700 assassins working for various groups in the city”. That's a statistic to make any experienced traveller wary.
I'm getting close to the age where I want to settle down with a family, however there are so many places out there I still want to visit. Due to the troubles in the middle east, I have no real desire to go there, however Africa remains high on my list of places to go. My friend has been to Rwanda several times and raved about it.
The key is remaining safe it to use common sense. Don't get into cars with people you don't trust, and try not to stay out too late at night. I have not experienced any problems in South America, though this is in part to me not drinking too much on my travels. And when I did drink a lot, it was always with a large group of friends.
What dangerous countries have you visited?