The vast majority of visitors to Chile never experience a problem with crime. Violent crime is a rarity; far more common is pick-pocketing or thefts from purses, backpacks, or rental cars. Be on your guard in crowded places, especially markets and festivals.
Wherever you go, don't wear expensive clothing or flashy jewelry, and don't handle money in public. Keep cameras in a secure camera bag, preferably one with a chain or wire embedded in the strap. Always remain alert for pickpockets, and don't walk alone at night, especially in the larger cities.
Distribute your cash, credit cards, IDs, and other valuables between a deep front pocket, an inside jacket or vest pocket, and a hidden money pouch. Don't reach for the money pouch once you're in public.
Volcano climbing is a popular pastime in Chile, with Volcán Villarrica, near Pucón, and Volcán Osorno the most popular. But some of these mountains are also among South America's most active volcanoes. CONAF, the agency in charge of national parks, cuts off access to any volcano at the slightest hint of abnormal activity. Check with CONAF before heading out on any hike in this region.
Many women travel alone or in groups in Chile with no problems. Chilean men are less aggressive in their machismo than men in other South American countries (they will seldom, for example, approach a woman they don't know), but it's still an aspect of the culture (they will make comments when a woman walks by). Single women should not walk alone at night, especially in larger cities.
In the event of an earthquake in Chile, exercise common sense (don't take elevators and move away from heavy objects that may fall, for example) and follow instructions if you are in a public place (metro, museum, etc.) If you are in a coastal location, listen for tsunami sirens, or simply follow the tsunami evacuation route (indicated by signs in the streets) or head to high ground.
CONAF. 45/298-114 in Temuco; 2/328-0300 in Santiago. www.conaf.cl.
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