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Safety in Bolivia: A Guide for Travelers

Bolivia, celebrated for its rich culture, impressive landscapes, and high-altitude cities, is typically a secure destination for global voyagers. However, as with all travel locations, understanding the local conditions and taking specific precautions is key to ensuring an enjoyable journey. This article features comments from this Reddit thread.

High altitude

A significant concern for travelers is the high altitude, particularly in cities such as La Paz and El Alto, which stand at 4,100m above sea level. As one traveler “ed8907” noted on the online thread, “If you’re in La Paz/El Alto, altitude can be a problem.” Acclimatizing to such elevations is vital to avoiding altitude sickness and ensuring a comfortable stay.

El Alto, part of La Paz, is seen by some as the more dangerous part of the city, with another traveler “MaleficentBoat9663” advising, “Yeah, I wouldn’t be hanging out in El Alto either, it’s the most dangerous part of La Paz.”

However, experiences vary. Another traveler “mangosteen4587” commented, “I felt super safe the entire time in La Paz.” Many travelers suggest staying vigilant and mindful of personal belongings, especially in bustling areas like El Alto.

Political tensions

Political tensions, especially in the Andes region, can impact local attitudes toward tourists. “MaleficentBoat9663” further noted, “I think they [people in the Andes] also have a different mindset towards Americans in general because of all the political BS lately.” However, the eastern parts of Bolivia, specifically Santa Cruz and Uyuni, are often considered safer and more tourist-friendly, with the same traveler observing, “But in Santa Cruz they are super friendly, and Uyuni is super touristy now.”


In some instances, travelers have noted the occurrence of protests blocking access to cities. One such traveler, “bbr35”, shared his experience: “There were a lot of protests when I visited, including access to Sucre being blocked by truckers protest and a protest in Uyuni threatening to block the city when I was scheduled to depart to Chile.” Being aware of local news and maintaining flexibility in travel plans can help to navigate such circumstances.

Regarding local markets, some travelers have encountered hostility, particularly from vendors. “bbr35” said, “People in Bolivia though seemed to be more hostile towards tourists than Peruvians, especially vendors in the many markets I shopped at.”

Women travelers

For women travelers, vigilance is encouraged due to reports of heavy catcalling and unwanted physical attention. As “anthrogeek” shared, “It’s a little tricky for women, I experienced a lot of heavy catcalling and sometimes guys would try to grab my hand.” It’s generally advised to travel in groups, especially during nighttime activities, and to consider guided tours in more isolated areas.

Lastly, being careful about food and drink consumption is essential. As “DishPatient5767” succinctly put it, “Altitude sickness and caution with the water,” should be kept in mind.

In conclusion, while Bolivia offers a rich blend of cultural experiences and natural beauty, ensuring a safe and enjoyable journey involves understanding the local context, respecting cultural norms, and taking necessary precautions.

Photo credit: eduardo_g

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