Explore Amazing Places

Travel Safety

Travel Safety

Your Safety Is Our Utmost Concern

Explore Amazing Places specializes in travel to locations throughout Central and South America. Your safety is our priority. We recommend familiarizing yourself with any and all travel advisories listed by US Department of State .

 We have been leading tours for nearly 2 decades to these locations. In addition, we have lived extensively throughout some of these same locations. In hoping to balance the information listed by news agencies and the US Department of State, we have compiled information from US citizens currently living abroad in Central and South America. We recommend reading these first-hand accounts from individuals who enjoy the beauty and culture of life outside of the United States.

We were friends with a lady years ago who worked at the American Embassy and was in charge of dealing with American tourist’s problems. She told us that “Americans are statistically safer as tourists in Guatemala than as citizens in the U.S.” We do not have the statistics to state that today, but would not be surprised if it was still true. If there are international rumors or reports of danger about an area, there will often be fewer tourists, thus increasing much better availability of rooms, and honest welcomes by locals. We have learned over the years that it is very rare that any specific danger in any specific country is “everywhere”, and cannot be avoided. Tourism is certainly down this year, but that is the result of exactly the type of unrealistic fears I have been speaking of and that we have been traveling toward for 30 years (and are still here to tell the story).
— Resident - Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Guatemala gets far too much undeserved bad press in the US, which causes some people to fear traveling here. I sometimes have US friends ask me about safety here. I tell them that I feel safer in Guatemala than I have in many US cities. I have lived and traveled extensively in Guatemala for more than eight years. I have driven to many parts of Guatemala, often by myself, and have never felt in any danger.
— Resident of Guatemala
I have lived in Antigua, Guatemala for 15 years. Regarding safety, I have never personally been robbed in either Guatemala City or here in Antigua. Regardless, my personal observation is that the town of Antigua has never been safer. Today, it is still common for banks, hotels and some other commercial businesses to employ armed guards for the safety of their businesses, employees and customers. It is very rare to see armed guards within restaurants, shops and other venues that the public visits. In recent years, all throughout the country there is a police presence. Here in Antigua there are Tourist Police, Local Police named the PMT and Federal Police. They are very visible and they patrol the streets on foot, bike, motorcycles and police vehicles. Incidents of danger to the public are rare. I can’t remember the last time I heard of an incident that affected the safety of tourists. Client safety is foremost on the minds of the well run tour operators and business establishments.

Having said all that, I strongly recommend to my clients to relax and enjoy the country but always be aware of their surroundings; no different than certain areas within our cities and towns back home. I recommend that our visitors conduct themselves in a fashion that diminishes their changes of becoming a victim of petty crime. Do not wear jewelry and protect your telephones and cameras. Do not walk the streets in a drunken fashion. All common sense tips.

Most recently there are notable questions and queries regarding the migrant caravans from Central America. These caravans have not affected Guatemala in any significant manner. From all accounts, these caravans have impacted Mexico much more than the originating countries of migration. Guatemala has been and still is a fine travel destination.
— Resident & Business Owner - Antigua, Guatemala
I have been with Explore Amazing Places over a dozen times to Guatemala, and also Honduras and Ecuador. Never once have I had the feeling of being in danger. None of my traveling companions ever felt that they were in harms way. Also noteworthy, if you go, you will have no regrets.
— Group Leader/Art Instructor - Guatemala & Ecuador
Guatemala gets far too much undeserved bad press in the US, which causes some people to fear traveling here. I sometimes have US friends ask me about safety here. I tell them that I feel safer in Guatemala than I have in many US cities—unless you’re involved in Guatemalan politics or running drugs, your chances of being a victim of violence here are pretty small. I have lived in Guatemala for eight years, and traveled here extensively the two years before that. I lived alone before I met my husband here. My husband has lived in Guatemala for 40 years. Neither of us has ever been the victim of any kind of violent crime here. I have driven to many parts of Guatemala, often by myself, and have never felt in any danger (except from the potholes on some bad roads, which is more of a danger to my car than to me!) As in many parts of the world, it’s wise to pay attention to your surroundings. Pickpockets and thieves do target tourists in crowded areas. There are parts of Guatemala City to which I don’t go. I don’t walk around alone at night. In short, I take the same precautions here that I would take anywhere else.
— Female American expat living in Guatemala

From Explore Amazing Places Owner - John Korte

I only have my experience to go on. As a person who has traveled throughout Mexico, Central and South America, on pretty much a full-time basis for the past 11 years, I personally have never seen, been around, run into, or even thought I might be in the presence of the gang or cartel element. We have brought over 900 travelers to Guatemala and over 100 to Ecuador and, as you know, we send out Feedback Questionnaires to all our travelers and to a person, of all those who responded, not one felt they were unsafe at any time on our tours. Additionally, every single respondent reported that there was no time on the trip that they ever even felt threatened. I can only say: “read the testimonials on our website”.

 Anita, our partner Jeremy, and I live and travel continuously throughout these countries; we know the people; we know the places; we use common sense as to where and when to travel; we keep in daily communications with Programa Nacional de Asistencia al Turista who provides us with updates on road conditions, and any activities which could be a potential issue for our groups; we also keep in touch with our transportation providers whose job it is to provide us with daily information as to travel conditions and any issues in the areas we travel. 

 Several folks from one of or groups visited a “health nurse” who turned out to be an alarmist. We have had over 900 travelers with us in the past 17 years. 95% of them have chosen not to be immunized because:

  1. We do not go into areas where there is any significant incidence of disease. For example in Tikal - it is not th rainy season therefore few if any mosquitoes. Additionally, we take our groups there and we have never had a case of malaria. I personally go many times per year, have never taken malaria meds, and do not have malaria. We are there during mid day and mosquitoes are out at dawn and dusk. Even though we have never had an incident there and we rarely even see a mosquito, we always recommend folks wear long sleeves, and long pants, and bring along a small (airline size and packaging) repellent. 

  2. All the restaurants and hotels we go to are upscale and we have been into every kitchen inspecting cleanliness, food handling, and all other aspects of food prep. We have never had an incident of hepatitis or typhoid fever. We are not eating in villages, we only frequent restaurants where the fruits and vegetables are sterilized and all other food is cooked at proper temperatures. Although every hotel we stay at and restaurants we go to have filtered water (which we drink), we still provide bottled water every day during your stay here.  

  3. How people do get sick (usually diarrhea and or loose stomach) from unclean hands, Things you touch are more apt to get you sick than what you eat or drink when traveling with us. It is because we cannot control what you touch (we can control what you eat and drink). This is why we highly recommend everybody bring those little bottles of hand cleaner or disinfectant and use it frequently. When we have the occasional bout with stomach we get the best of meds from the pharmacy here and it is knocked out in 24 hours or less.

Again, we have had food writers come with us, doctors, nurses, health care providers of every type, and none have gone away with any concerns, and certainly no diseases. In fact, the food writer - Thayer Wine who writes freelance, did an article about the food and our trip in the newspaper, Tennessean.