Saturday, October 14, 2017

Vaccinations and travel alerts for Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru

I just realized my bus trip is only three months away. Time to check what I need in terms of vaccinations.


Yellow fever vaccine, if coming from Angola, Brazil, DRC, or Uganda.

U.S. citizens should exercise caution, as violence linked to domestic insurgency, narco-trafficking, crime, and kidnapping occur in some rural and urban areas.  This replaces the previous travel warning dated April 5, 2016.  
Organized political and criminal armed groups are active throughout much of the country and their methods include the use of explosives and bomb threats in public spaces. Violence associated with the armed groups occurs in rural areas as well as Colombia's major cities, including in the capital. These groups are heavily involved in the drug trade, extortion, kidnapping, and robbery. On November 30, 2016, the Colombian government approved a peace accord with the largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The peace agreement is in the process of being implemented and does not include other active armed groups.
Violent crime is a threat throughout Colombia. Kidnapping remains a threat, although U.S. citizens are not specifically targeted. Violent political groups and other criminal organizations occasionally kidnap and hold civilians, including foreigners, for ransom. 

Yellow fever vaccination, if traveling in the Amazon Basin.

Exercise caution when traveling to northern Ecuador, especially the provinces of Carchi, northern Esmeraldas, and SucumbĂ­os.  U.S. government personnel may travel to the northern bank of the Napo River in SucumbĂ­os, where tourist lodges are located, an area approximately four miles wide.  All other U.S. government travel to the northern border area is prohibited without prior permission.  This region has a high rate of ransom kidnappings.  U.S. citizens are not targeted, but have been kidnapped there in the past.  

  • Pick-pocketing, robbery, and hotel room theft are the most common crimes.  Tourists have been robbed at gunpoint on beaches and along hiking trails.  Passengers arriving at the Quito and Guayaquil airports have also been targets of armed robberies.
  • Use hotel safes if available, avoid wearing obviously expensive jewelry or clothing, and carry only the cash or credit cards that you need.  Stay alert in crowds and on public transportation.  Be aware that thieves might create distractions to target you.
  • Be alert for express kidnappings, in which criminals enter a taxi and force victims to withdraw money from ATMs.  Some victims have been beaten or raped.  Avoid hailing taxis on the street.  Order taxis by phone or use a service affiliated with major hotels.  Avoid withdrawing large amounts of cash at one time.  Use ATMs in well-protected indoor areas.
  • To avoid carjacking or theft from your car while you are stopped at intersections, drive with your doors locked and windows rolled up. Do not leave valuables in plain view.
  • Sexual assaults and rapes can occur, even in tourist areas.  Travel in groups, do not leave food or drinks unattended, and never allow a stranger to give you a drink.
  • Do not let your credit card out of your sight in order to avoid credit card “skimming.”
  • Incapacitating drugs, such as rohypnol and scopolamine, have been used to facilitate violent robberies and sexual assaults.

Yellow fever vaccination is recommended.

Narcotics traffickers, terrorist groups and other organized, armed bands still operate in some remote parts of Peru. 

Armed robberies, express kidnappings, carjacking's, and petty theft occur frequently. Credit card fraud is also common in Peru. “Smash-and-grab” style robberies are most often reported on main tourist corridors immediately following arrival at Lima’s airport. Use only official airport taxi services. Do not hail taxis on the street. 
While violence committed against foreigners is infrequent, robberies involving violence have been on the rise. Do not resist a robbery attempt.  Victims who do not resist generally do not suffer serious physical harm. Some criminals with a motive of robbery or sexual assault may target victims by drugging them in bars and other areas frequented by tourists.
 Looks like I'm all set!

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