Safety in Rio?

Apr 28th, 2015, 11:38 AM
  #1  
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Safety in Rio?

My DH and I are going to Rio in October. We have traveled a lot and we know pretty much the basics of being safe, ie no jewelry, watch your belongings and pockets, watch where you go at night, be suspicious of possible scams, etc. My sister is in Rio now with her husband on a tour. The tour company told them not to carry a camera, not to carry bags and not to go to the beach with less than 4 people. Can someone give me the real scoop on safety? I am hoping the tour company is being over cautious. There are 2 of us and we both carry big cameras and bags! I also heard not to get in a taxi unless you call for one in advance. I can live with that, but what is the risk? Thanks for your help.
sdtravels is offline  
Apr 28th, 2015, 01:32 PM
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Adopt the same precautions as you would in every major city around the world (e.g. don't wear flashy jewelry, leave home anything you cannot afford to lose, don't go down deserted streets). I would not recommend large bags or cameras. Instead we carried around a pocket camera that we took out when we wanted to snap a photo and had a regular plastic bag that you find at the supermarket for some belongings. We found people out and about at all the places we visited in Rio, especially the beaches. Tijuca Forest is the only place where there was not much foot traffic but we had a guide with us. Hope this helps.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Apr 28th, 2015, 05:40 PM
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Sorry , touched the post button by mistake.....here's the rest.

Tourist crime in Rio, and Brazil in general, is opportunistic. Don't give 'em the opportunity.

The tour company is NOT bring over cautious, but at the same time, they are not being very specific.

You can go by taxi from the hotel to the train station in Cosme Velho or one of the van stops to go up to the Christ statue. You can take your big camera, take all the iconic photos up there in the ticketed heights among the other tourists, come down, and take a taxi back to the hotel.
Same for Sugarloaf.
Otherwise carry a pocket digital with a good lens. Have the other person designated to be aware of surroundings, like the kid bicycling toward you at high speed when your camera arm is extended, while you snap away.

You can carry a small bag/purse for the items you cannot live without. (I prefer a very small fanny pack worn to the front, with a hand always on it.) It is going to have a cross-body strap that cannot be cut easily and you will wear it slightly to the front and keep your hand on it. Your money is not going to be in it, but just enough change for the bus or a bottle of water. You will not carry a smart phone (although you may see Brazilians with theirs). Your money for the day and a credit card are going to be on a pocket/pouch under your clothes.

There have been cases of "arrastao" occasionally (seldom!) at the beaches, an invasion of a large group of thieves running through the crowds to rob. Going to the beach with four people or forty would not help. Everything you need can be purchased at the beach, so don't bring anything that would tempt that opportunistic thief while his partner chats you up. Just tuck a few bills in your bathing suit to pay for a drink, snack, etc. Brazilian women go to the beach in a bikini and a canga (sarong) and sunglasses. Keep stuff you haul along to a minimum, maybe in that nondescript plastic supermarket bag every tourist has read about.

Do not, as the poster above mentioned, walk on deserted streets/areas. This includes those in neighborhoods that look upscale!

Yellow taxis that belong to a cooperative have the name and phone number of that cooperative painted on the rear fender, and are safe to take, from the street or from their taxi stand. You can call a radio taxi too and pay more.

That's the real deal. Anything else?
SambaChula is offline  
Apr 28th, 2015, 05:44 PM
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Whoops, I guess it was just the preview.
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Apr 29th, 2015, 02:51 AM
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Thanks tripplanner and SambaChula, I guess that answers my question. Rough place.
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Apr 29th, 2015, 04:23 AM
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No it is NOT "a rough place". It is quite a sophisticated place with a very rich culture, one that that most tourists, and both rich and poor residents, enjoy with few problems. However, Rio is (unlike some other locations) a place where the very rich and the very poor rub shoulders daily, and there is significant social inequality and prejudice that does not allow the poor to advance in the way you might be used to having the opportunity to do at home. You as the fortunate rich (yes, rich, if you have the wherewithal to travel) must politely adapt your behavior so as not to flaunt your good fortune temptingly in the face of those who have little chance of achieving it. For a very few, the temptation and frustration becomes too much to bear. You should travel with some understanding of the society you have chosen to visit, not just impose your 'home' standards on the rest of the world.
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Apr 29th, 2015, 06:59 AM
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I think the tour company is overdoing it a bit. I traveled in Rio as a solo, although I didn't hang out on the beach except in the kiosks. I used taxis, public transport and local tours. I carried my usual small backpack. I was on high alert the whole time. I actually had more trouble in Buenos Aires, where I was hit with the "black water" scam (actually yellow goo) - unsuccessful for the scammers.
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Apr 29th, 2015, 07:24 AM
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Gee SambaChula, I didn't mean to offend you. However, I want to assure you that I travel with utmost sensitivity to the culture I am visiting. I try never to impose my "home" standards on others. Shame on you for assuming my lack of sensitivity as I am merely trying to understand the society I am going to visit by asking questions.

thursdaysd, thanks for the heads up on BA. We are going there as well.
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Apr 29th, 2015, 07:24 AM
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Gee SambaChula, I didn't mean to offend you. However, I want to assure you that I travel with utmost sensitivity to the culture I am visiting. I try never to impose my "home" standards on others. Shame on you for assuming my lack of sensitivity as I am merely trying to understand the society I am going to visit by asking questions.

thursdaysd, thanks for the heads up on BA. We are going there as well.
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Apr 29th, 2015, 07:24 AM
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Sorry for the double post.
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Apr 29th, 2015, 07:37 AM
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sdtravels - yes, you need to be careful in BA as well. Another couple were also hit with the black water scam while I was there - on the main avenue (I was in the metro). And I met a woman who had her bag and neck pouch stolen outside the Ricoletto (sp?) cemetery.
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Apr 29th, 2015, 12:03 PM
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@sdtravels--
I'm not offended. Just baffled and somewhat frustrated by people who purport to be sensitive and to have traveled "extensively" and still don't get it.
Try this analogy. Driving on the roads can be quite dangerous. So you buckle your seat belt. But this does not cause you high anxiety or alarm for the whole time you are in the car (and you do not feel the need to make snarky remarks about the conditions). Most times nothing happens. You enjoy your trip. You may be seconds away from a life-changing car accident though, but if nothing happens, you'll never be aware of that. If something does, you are glad you had the seatbelt on.
So...... you take all the precautions the tour company talks about and that I elaborated on. And you proceed to enjoy your trip. And chances are, you'll end up in the majority that perceives no problem.

And btw, tip the hardworking low-wage hotel maid lavishly (and every other service person who makes your trip comfortable). She is possibly the mother who cannot, without that tip, give her child a future with enough promise to keep him from becoming one of the tempted.
SambaChula is offline  
May 2nd, 2015, 08:53 AM
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This video (hope the link works) shows how you can get robbed at the beach in Rio:
https://www.facebook.com/pehemediaof...67868/?fref=nf
So easy.
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May 22nd, 2015, 03:05 AM
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SambaChula, thanks for posting the video. It was a real eye opener. I thought I was always aware, but obviously I didn't know what to look for.
sdtravels is offline  
May 22nd, 2015, 04:20 AM
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We'll, if video does it for you to get the message, here is one of an arrastao on the beach in Rio. What you see is a large gang of thieves running through the crowd snatching what they can, and then the police chasing them, while some try to flee by running into the ocean.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VRn6CDwAZp0
As you can see, if you are four ( as the tour suggests), more, or alone, in this case, it doesn't matter.
Note: These incidents are VERY rare.
SambaChula is offline  
May 22nd, 2015, 04:23 AM
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This one, from Brazilian news show, might be educational too, especially for those who insist on carrying their big cameras, even in an "inconspicuous" bag.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hkramXNgD1Q
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May 23rd, 2015, 03:34 AM
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Thanks. Unfortunately I don't speak Portuguese so I didn't understand the last one. I saw them snatching chains from necks but I didn't see the camera and bag being snatched.
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May 23rd, 2015, 06:05 AM
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The reporters are saying that the news team, over 4 days, captured footage of this team of thieves acting freely. The reporter on the street identifies the location in the center of Rio near the train station (that was in the film of that name, Central do Brazil), the tower shown. The commentary points out what is going on. One kid is wearing his school T-shirt. And that everybody sees it happen, but no one steps in to help. The secretary in silhouette in the window says she comes to work with no jewelry, no phone, no watch, no bag, nothing.
Are you really so entrenched in your skepticism that you need to see a specific video of just bag straps being cut, for example by someone speeding by on a bike or motorcycle, before you take the facts to heart?
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May 23rd, 2015, 11:34 AM
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No, no, it is just that you said "especially for those who insist on carrying their big cameras, even in an "inconspicuous" bag" that I expected to see that. The chain snatching was vivid enough. I was just expecting to see how they steal the bags. I would like to see how it happens so I know what to expect.
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May 23rd, 2015, 08:25 PM
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For consistency of thinking, can we assume you take self defense classes so you know what to expect if someone tries to assault you in the parking garage near home as you retrieve your car?
Those kids could have had those women's bags too, just as easily. A quick slice of a knife to the strap. Or....What you can expect, as in this video, is to quietly hand over whatever you have foolishly decided to carry that attracted attention, and possibly to be traumatized for life. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bQRiF-utbZQ Worth it for a couple of snapshots??
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