Dear travelers: I'm the owner of BoliviaBella.com. Safety, crime and other negative things are the last topics I'd like to talk to you about. As you read through the pages of my site you'll realize that it's very different from other sites about Bolivia. Every page has been written either by me, or by others who actually live and work in Bolivia. You'll also notice that I make it a point to highlight the beautiful and positive aspects of Bolivia. But I am aware that BoliviaBella.com is one of the most highly trusted sites about Bolivia for a reason: we tell it like it is. So it's important to me that you also know about the safety concerns you should take into account when you travel Bolivia. It would be irresponsible not to do so, and some of them are just too frequent and serious now to be ignored any longer.
5 deplorable safety concerns
1. Bolivian roads are awful and not well-maintained, and Bolivian drivers often don't have licenses, drive drunk, or drive too fast. Nearly 200 people died in bus and biking accidents just in 2010 on various Bolivian roads, and a similar number in 2011. By July 2012 the statistics were rising as well, due in part to horrific accidents such as this one, this one, and this one, all of which took place in a one-week period. Tourists were involved. Tour vehicles are also often not safe. This horrifying story left me in tears. It involved one of our own website visitors, and compelled me more than any other to start thinking about travel insurance. I had NEVER used it before.
2. Bolivia thrives on offering adventure tourism. Tours like the Death Road bicycle tour and Uyuni tours have resulted in several tourist deaths. Never underestimate how remote and distant some tourist attractions in Bolivia are. Medical centers can be hours away and most are poorly equipped. Tour operators often do not offer safety features, have no first-aid training, and often don't even have the necessary equipment to communicate with their offices if something happens.
3. Crime is on the rise. Bolivia has always had a problem with pickpockets and the theft of cameras, backpacks and other items. But during the past 3 years these and drug-related crimes have skyrocketed. In addition, crimes directed at foreigners, such as express kidnappings, "pildoritas" (a woman drugs your drink, her accomplice kidnaps you, robs you, then abandons you) and fake police officers demanding your documents, are becoming more frequent in some areas, especially La Paz.
4. Civil unrest is on the rise. The country has been very politically unstable during the past seven years and has seen a serious spike in the number of protests, road blocks, and strikes. For travelers, this means your trip itinerary may change, flights could be cancelled or missed, or your entire trip could be ruined. In 2010 over 100 tourists were stranded for 18 days in the Potosí/Uyuni area behind road blocks and protests. Their embassies could not get food to them or extract them from the area.
5. Other things that can occur. You could get sick, the airlines could lose your luggage, your trip could get delayed or canceled, natural disasters, etc. Bolivia's largest airline, Aerosur, suspended all operations on 18 May 2012 leaving thousands of travelers stranded. Travelers who had tickets on Aerosur told us that Aerosur offered no alternative flights or refunds and they found themselves obliged to pay for new flights.
6. Enjoy Bolivia! Just be smart! You can prepare in advance, inform yourself, stay abreast of the news, pay attention to warnings and precautions, use common safety sense, and do not intentionally put yourself in hazardous situations while traveling. Subscribe to my blog to stay informed while you are traveling Bolivia.
Please take travel insurance seriously
Due to the above concerns, I researched travel insurance because we're taking this more seriously now. World Nomads is recommended by Lonely Planet, Hostelbookers, Footprint Travel Guides, National Geographic Adventure, and other highly respected travel sites. While studying travel insurance options, World Nomads stood out for its flexibility, low prices, and some of the options it covers that other insurance companies do not. Please know that I only recommend services on this site that I truly believe might add value to your trip.
WorldNomads.com provided the information below. Please remember the safety concerns I've told you about and stay safe while in Bolivia. I really love it when you share your travel stories with me, but I'd rather they made me smile :)