Women Travellers

  • Women’s rights in Bolivia are nearing modern standards and cities are more liberal than country regions.
  • Despite the importance of women in Bolivian society and the elevation of females in public life (including a female president and women mayors), the machismo mindset still exists. In the home, women rule, while external affairs are largely managed by men.
  • As a female traveling alone, the mere fact that you appear to be unmarried and far from your home and family may cause you to appear suspiciously disreputable.
  • Modesty is expected of women in much of Spanish-speaking Latin America. Conservative dress and confidence without arrogance are a must for gringas, more to be respectful than anything else. The best advice is to watch the standards of well-dressed Bolivian women in any particular area and follow their example.
  • Men are generally more forward and flirtatious in the lowlands, where the Latino culture is more prevalent, than in the altiplano where indigenous cultures prevail. Local women who wear Western dress in the warmer and lower areas tend to show more flesh than elsewhere in the country. That said, as a foreigner, avoid testing the system alone in a bar in a miniskirt.
  • As a safety measure for a woman traveler, try to avoid arriving at a place at night. If you need to take a taxi at night, it’s preferable to call for a radio taxi than to flag one down in the street.
  • Note that during the period leading up to Carnaval and during the festivities, a woman traveling solo can be a popular target for water bombs, which can feel like quite a harassment or at least an annoyance, even when it is intended as harmless fun.
  • Women should avoid hiking alone (as should everybody really!), and should never walk alone at night.