It’s Worth the Risk

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It’s Worth the Risk
In-line slideshow for Where to Hide Out from Zika: It’s Worth the Risk
By Maggie Fuller, AFAR Staff
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    If you look at a map of Zika in South America, there are only two countries that are safe: Uruguay and Chile. Maybe it’s something about the country’s varied climate, or maybe the altitude of the Andes creates a barrier, but the Zika-carrying aedes aegypti doesn’t live in Chile. If you’re set on a South American adventure, you’re in luck because Chile has a little bit of everything, from the other-worldly landscape of the Atacama Desert to the shores of the Pacific. Viña del Mar is a popular Chilean beach destination near the country's cultural capital, Valparaíso, and there are plenty of quieter beach towns along the coast just waiting to be explored. Just don’t add Easter Island to your list—there is a travel warning posted for that island cluster.

    Photo by Carlos Varela/Flickr
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    Bermuda is the only major island in the Caribbean that remains Zika-free. Somehow, as the rest of the region was taken over by the virus, the country still hasn’t seen a single Zika-carrying mosquito. So if you insist on having that Caribbean experience without the travel warning, one of the most iconic Caribbean experiences of all—the pink sand beaches and turquoise waters of Bermuda—is calling.

    Photo by Johnny Peacock/Flickr

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    Cook Islands (New Zealand)
    Another destination that has somehow remained untouched in a hotbed of Zika activity, New Zealand’s neighboring islands, the Cook Islands, actually had their travel warning removed in early 2016. The islands saw isolated cases of Zika between 2007 and 2014, but have had none since, and don’t currently require extra caution. Best of all, the mix of the best of New Zealand’s famous rugged scenery and pearly beaches makes these quiet islands a true paradise. 

    Photo by Daniel Pietzsch/Flickr
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    It may seem mad heading straight for the source, as some of the first human infections of Zika were in Tanzania, but at this point, the virus is endemic to the area and extremely rare. Even according the the CDC, Zika is not considered a travel concern in Tanzania. And while you may immediately think “safari” when you think of Tanzania (and we wouldn’t blame you), the beaches will actually blow you away.

    Photo by Maurice Koop/Flickr
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    OK, so it’s not a beach, but if you really refuse to skip Mexico (despite the travel warning) and you still want to avoid Zika, skip the beaches and head for the hills, literally. The disease’s carrier mosquitoes don’t live above 6,500 feet above sea level. So most places in Mexico’s charming UNESCO-cited central mountainous region, including San Miguel de Allende, are safe. And you can still drink all the tequila you want.

    Photo by Waywuwei/Flickr