Bolivia is the home of stunning scenery, rich history and vibrant culture and is on my bucket list of places to visit.
When planning my adventures, I have discovered that, whilst beautiful, Bolivia like anywhere in the world, is not free of risks. This has not dampened my thirst for adventure ,however, and neither should it yours.As with all successful trips preparation is key.
La Paz should definitely be on your itinerary when visiting Bolivia. This urban jungle merges indigenous cultures like the witches market with modern mayhem like the Teleferico, a cable car system above the entire city. However, being such a bustling and crowded tourist location, it provides the ideal situation for pick-pocketing. To avoid falling victim to an opportunist, here are a few useful tips for keeping your possessions safe!
Here Are Some Tips That I Have Found Useful When Visiting Bolivia:
Never leave your bag unattended.
This should really go without saying, however, it is always good to have the basics down.
Lock your bag
If you have a backpack with a double zipper, padlock the two zips together for an extra level of security
Spread your money out
If carrying cash, spread your money through out your bag and clothes. For example, a popular option it is storing some money in your shoes!
If you are taking a bank card with you, attach a fake pin on a piece of paper and stick it to the card. Make the writing slightly legible and not too obvious. Because, in the case your card is stolen, after fooling the thief and 3 attempts in a cash point – your bank will lock your card.
Avoid Taxi Scams
Along with La Paz, other locations like Santa Cruz de la Sierra are popular tourist destinations boasting attractions like the Amboro National Park and Santa Cruz Zoo. Although gorgeous and fun locations, there has been an increase in taxi scams in both. Places to avoid would be Coronilla Hill in Cochabamba, Coroico and Carnavi in Yungas. Whether it is a fake taxi driver or a ‘non-uniformed’ policeman approaching the vehicle demanding passports for identification or checking bags – always be alert by following these few steps:
- Use reputable services. Check A list of vetted taxi firms in Bolivia.
- Use a ‘radio taxi’. These types of taxis are identified by the telephone number and are recognised as part of a taxi firm. Also, specify a location and time to ensure you are getting the correct taxi.
- Make note of the registration. In case of any issues, you will be able to give this information to the police.
- Keep a copy of official documents. An official policeman will not ask you to get in a taxi, ask for your real passport or other official documents. Copies of those documents should suffice, if not then it is a good indicator that that policeman is not real.
The Mayor of Bolivia has also said that all registered taxis should be displaying a sticker of authentication on their windscreen. If you are being extra cautious, another mode of transport to avoid as a tourist are buses and mini-buses. These are usually over crowded making them prime spots for stealing.
Use Caution When Booking Tours
As well as cultural town destinations, Bolivia is home to some fantastic locations for adventurous, adrenalin pumping activities like boat trips, mountain biking along Death Valley and Salar De Uyuni Salt Flat tours. With such exciting excursions like this available, it is important nothing gets in the way of you enjoying your holiday! When booking an activity always…
- Book through a reputable company. Try to book with agents who will take a card instead of asking for cash and that are licensed for what they do!
- Ensure you have appropriate insurance. Just in case anything does happen like an accident or belongings are stolen whilst on a tour.
- Avoid the San Pedro prison tours. These are unofficial and illegal, and your safety cannot be guaranteed inside the prison.
Even though there is a certain level of risk associated with travelling to this beautiful part of the world, it should not stop you. The positives of visiting Bolivia will far outweigh any risks, from experiencing the vibrant culture to exploring the natural phenomenon that is the Salar De Uyuni Salt Flats.
Using your common sense and being extra vigilant will keep you safe during your stay and ensure that you enjoy your travels to the maximum.