- Crime against tourists is on the increase in Bolivia, especially in La Paz and, to a lesser extent, Cochabamba, Copacabana and Oruro.
- There is a strong tradition of social protest in Bolivia and demonstrations are a regular occurrence. While generally peaceful, they can turn threatening in nature: agitated protesters throw stones and rocks and police occasionally use force and tear gas to disperse crowds.
- Note that the mine tours in Potosí, bike trips outside La Paz and 4WD excursions around Salar de Uyuni can be dangerous. Some agencies are willing to forgo safety, so choose carefully.
Government Travel Advice
The following government websites offer travel advisories and information on current hot spots.
- Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (www.smartraveller.gov.au)
- British Foreign Office (www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice)
- Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs (travel.gc.ca)
- US State Department (www.travel.state.gov)
Scams are commonplace and fake police, false tourist police and ‘helpful’ locals are on the rise. Be aware, too, of circulating counterfeit banknotes.
Bribes are illegal in Bolivia, but common. People stopped for minor traffic violations or more serious infractions sometimes ask if they can ‘pay the fine now.’ Watch out for false police – authentic police officers will always wear a uniform and will never force you to show them your passport, insist you get in a taxi with them, or search you in public.
Bloqueos (roadblocks) and strikes by transportation workers often lead to road closures and long delays. When there is an ongoing dispute, bus services between certain towns may be canceled indefinitely. Keep an eye on the news and ask around to find out if there are any trouble spots that might disrupt your travel plans. Be careful using taxis during transportation strikes – you may end up at the receiving end of a rock, pelted by protesters at those who are not in sympathy with them.
The rainy season means flooding, landslides and road washouts, which in turn means more delays. Getting stuck overnight behind a landslide can happen; you’ll be a happier camper with ample food, drink and warm clothes on hand.