Flying down to Rio?

Brazil is an exotic destination with a lot of appeal, but if the latest travel report on that South American giant is any indication, Canadians would do well to plan their trip very carefully.

The trouble can start right at the airport in Rio. Brazil has one of the highest accident rates in the world, and road travel by bus or private motor vehicle is deemed hazardous, according to the report issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade staff. Travellers are urged to avoid all road travel at night. When driving, visitors should pay extra attention to their surroundings while waiting at traffic lights, and keep car doors locked and windows closed. Even the buses aren’t recommended, plagued as they are by a high incidence of theft. Taxis appear to be the best bet.

DFAIT also warns that “serious crime, often involving violence, is high and increasing in a number of urban centres including Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Recife, and Salvador.” Unfortunately, tourists are a favourite target. To avoid trouble, avoid beaches near coastal cities and towns and central areas of the major cities, and use well-lit, busy streets. Visitors are advised to dress “discreet”, as street crime (pickpocketing, mugging, purse snatching) is common.

Even remote areas aren’t safe in Brazil, as they are often the scene of drug trafficking. DFAIT also reminds travellers that they should not agree, under any circumstance, to carry any items, for others. If you’re visiting non-tourist locations, especially coca-growing areas, remember to leave your camera and binoculars at the hotel, as those involved in the drug trade don’t like to be observed.