Safety Tips in La Paz

    by DennyP
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    Coca Tea
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Most Viewed Warnings and Dangers in La Paz

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    by DennyP Written Jan 14, 2012

    When travelling through the tropical regions of Central and South America, I always carry a reliable Mosquito and Insect Repellant. Anywhere in these regions is it extremely neccesary to protect yourself aginst Malaria and Dengue Fever. Due to the recent outbreaks of Dengue fever here in Bolivia leading to many deaths it is imperative to wear long sleeved shirts/blouses , long pants,and make sure ALL exposed skin is covered with a good Mosquito Repellant. Also purchase a mosquito net to cover yourself for night times.
    For travellers contemplating travelling to these areas obtain up to date advice from your doctor who may recommend a course of Malaria tablets.. You can't be too careful regarding this!!!

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    by DennyP Updated Jan 5, 2012

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    While I was travelling through South America I always made sure that I had the neccesary Travel Insurance that I may need. La Paz was no exception on this journey. Travelling mainly by bus everywhere is certainly a dangerous way to travel..The many crosses that are at the bottom of steep hills and on tight bends are a constant reminder of the dangers. There is always the possibility of an accident and medical help might not be there when you need it. I always carry travel insurance for accident, medical, with doctor, surgeons and hospital cover. also I include repatriation clause.We all know what huge costs can come into play with a stay in hospital with doctors and the worst scenario being flown out. Travelling is a fun thing and the last thing that we confront ourselves with is the thought of an accident..Unfortunately these can happen anywhere anytime especially now in an uncertain political world..sometimes "Mother Nature" can spoil our best laid plans with one of her weather specials. There was an earthquake when I was in Peru.!!! Scary!!!
    Make sure that you have the cover will suit you best .Taking into account what you will be doing and also where you are going .The more cover you want the more your costs will be but..
    I like to travel with peace of mind wherever I am travelling.. as the say..

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    by boltonian Written Aug 14, 2007

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    The other thing that happened to a fellow traveller was in a nightclub.

    Some guy dropped a packet on the floor. He picked it up to hand it back, but then faced arrest for a 'drug possesion charge'.

    After a fine/bribe, he got off, but either way this is not good. Lose money or get to visit San Pedro for real!!

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    I spit in your face

    by boltonian Written Aug 14, 2007

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    I had no problems at all in Bolivia, but one girl I spoke to had this happen....

    In the street, she was walking with her hand in the pocket that contained her purse.

    A guy walked past her and spat in her face. Her reaction was to wipe her face. This left her pocket free for the pickpocket.

    He took the purse and she was left without money and a face full of spit.

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    Calle Jaen Museums, military guards & photos

    by adelinemmc Written Oct 3, 2006

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    You can visit 4 museums with 1 cheap ticket.

    All have guards. The precious metal guards are, I think, soldiers due to the expensive stuff on display here.

    I took a couple of pictures (no flash) since there was no signs telling me not to and before I knew one of the guards appeared and started shouting at us in Spanish. He wanted me to give him the 'film'. I managed to explain that the camera was digital and that I could delete the pictures I had just taken. Fair enough. He then towered over me for ten minutes until he was sure all the pics were gone.

    I do not object to being told not to take photographs, even when it was not clear that they were forbidden.
    What I do object to is museums being staffed by rude brutes intend on ripping my camera apart while shouting at me in Spanish. If Bolivia wants more tourist to visit, training guards to be nice to visitors might be a good starting point!

    Selling postards of the stuff on display in museums would be nice too because it's a real shame not to have memories of the beautiful Tiwanaku jewellery.

    One photo I managed to save from deletion
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    • Museum Visits
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    Arriving in la paz...

    by marcelo15 Updated May 9, 2006

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    If you arrive in la paz from copacabana by normal buses (local buses) to the area of the CEMETERY, do not follow anyone if they ask for your identification or something like that...even if the people who ask for it are policemen....THERE IS NO REASON TO ASK YOU FOR THAT! it`s supposed that you showed it at the inmigration office in the why you must show your passport again as soon as you arrive???
    so, what i can suggest you to do, is getting off the bus and take care for your belongings and hire a RADIO TAXI in group and go inmediately to the center...CALLE ILLAMPU, SAGARNAGA, WHERE there are more accomodations...then you will be ok.
    I don`t want to scare yourselves it`s just to prevent you and i think is better to prevent than anyother thing...

    The best way to arrive in la paz are taking the touristic buses....MOST OF THEM departure from copacabana to la paz at 13:30...and they leave you in the center. Here i give you some names of them:
    to take them just go to their offices around copacabana town...
    OK porpuse here is help not scare anyone...tell me what do u think about this i will consider to remove or continue...

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    by marcelo15 Updated Feb 14, 2005

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    This tip is focus on people who are coming down La Paz. (Mainly for women)please, try to not walk around late around this locations: EL ALTO, Av. BUENOS AIRES, EL CEMENTERIO. You may be mugged or somethinkg like that. If you are spy do not stop at to see what happened, this is a trick to steal you. go ahead and DO NOT stop at all!!!
    And if you are taking you backpack make sure you cover it.
    Please, i listen from my friend who was walking alone around El Alto and she was almost mugged.
    ps. in other locations such as, the center, av. sagarnaga and downtown. no problem is safer.

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    Tale of Four Women continued

    by AlbuqRay Updated Jan 15, 2005

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    It is downhill from the Hotel Rosario going to Plaza San Francisco but steep uphill coming back. Since the altitude is around 12,000 feet, it is better to rest at least the first half day in La Paz. Even better yet, take a tour down the valley to lower elevation (see my general tip).

    They were shopping in the Plaza San Francisco area (there are many sidewalk vendors there) but evidently not staying together. Someone threw yellow mustard on Rene. They said it was from a bird and offered to help clean it off. It was just a way to distract her. She took off her knapsack and put it between her feet; however, she was distracted enough that in a moment it and the people were gone. The knapsack had her passport, cash, credit cards and travelers' checks in it. She said it happened so fast you would not believe it.

    When I met them, they were just back from this bad experience during their first 3-4 hours in La Paz. I must say that Rene was very strong and was not going to let it ruin her trip. She was making the necessary calls to cancel the credit cards and get another passport. The hotel had some of the phone numbers that were needed but not all. They also suggested that she go to the tourist police the next day and fill out a report, if for no other reason than it would be needed for insurance claims.

    Later on that evening, there was good news. Someone called the hotel. They had found Rene's passport in the cemetery area and wanted to return it. She was thrilled to get her passport back and tipped them $20 (it would have cost $85 to replace it). So there are plenty of nice, helpful people in La Paz too.

    At first I thought it was the same people trying to make more money, but it turned out Rene had substantially more money than that in her knapsack. They would not have taken the risk of returning the passport for that little of a difference. I also realized they would have known the hotel from the visa in the passport. It shows that there can be good reasons for filling out that paperwork.

    Vendors in Plaza San Francisco Area
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    Tale of Four Women from San Francisco, CA

    by AlbuqRay Updated Jan 15, 2005

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    This is the story of four women from San Francisco, California, as related to me in the Anyi Room (a place to share) of the Hotel Rosario in La Paz. These young women were not novice travelers, so it could have happened to anyone. It was not a good start to their trip but they had a good attitude and were supporting each other. I left early the next morning and have always wondered how the rest of their trip went.

    It started at the airport. I did not see them but they were on the same flight as me from Miami. I did not know her at the time, but Angela was a couple of people in front of me in the immigration line. Clearly she was happy and excited to be in La Paz. By the time I got my luggage, I noticed she was in the small infirmary getting oxygen for soroche (altitude sickness) and not feeling good at all. Unfortunately she had a pretty bad case.

    To give you an idea of how individual soroche can be, I found out later that two of the other women only got a tingling feeling in their legs and a feeling of lightheadness. One was pretty much unaffected. Presumably all lived near sea level back home. I wonder if the coca tea they drank in the Anyi Room helped.

    Evidentally they were not being met by someone at the airport and just hired a taxi to get to the Hotel Rosario. Too bad I did not know them then, because there was plenty of room in the van that my guide brought. Anyway, the next thing that happened was when they arrived at the Hotel Rosario. It is a busy street without much place to stop. A guy came to help Corina with her luggage. She thought he was hotel staff but he started to load her bag into a car. Fortunately she was able to grab it back before they drove off.

    Right after they checked in, they decided to walk down to the Plaza San Francisco area (hey, they were from San Francisco). However, that really was not a wise thing to do if you are having problems with soroche... Continued in the next tip.

    Street Down to Plaza San Francisco
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  • marcelo15's Profile Photo

    dangerous drivers...

    by marcelo15 Updated Jan 4, 2005

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    Friends, i?ve seen several times some accidents made by some bad drivers. please, when you cross the streets be really carefullier. DO NOT expect to see a lot of good drivers, that respect the traffic lights, or to turn on the sign lights and the cross walks.
    ok, i know that in almost every big city the traffic jam is so rubbish, add the bad drivers from la paz. wow!!! it?s worst!
    please, take note of this warning. and run, run, run.
    Amigos he visto muchos accidentes hechos por malos conductores.
    Cuando cruces las calles ten mucho cuidado. No esperes ver muchos buenos conductores, que respeten los semaforos y las lineas peatonales.
    si, s? que en casi todas las grandes ciudades el tr?fico es una macana, a?ade los malos conductores con sus bocinas..Grrr.
    corre, corre.

    a main avenue, la paz
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  • Bolivian Driving

    by trystanmd Written Sep 24, 2003

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    Watch yourself on the roads in La Paz they seem even more erratic than other parts of Bolivia, especially in El Prado, with the multiple lane road. The best thing to do is to just run like hell when you see a gap in the traffic - but don't expect much of a gap.

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    • Backpacking

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    It is cold all year round, so...

    by witou Written Sep 7, 2002

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    It is cold all year round, so bring winter clothes (it tends to get nicer from 12 to 3 PM). The altitude will take its toll on you so walk very slowly, specially the first day you are there. Locals recommend to drink coca tea to cope better with the altitude. The city is less dangerous than other South American capitals, however you still have to be careful. Do not go anywhere north of downtown at night and do not go to El Alto or the neighborhoods on the hillsides. You are better of staying in downtown, or the south part (Zona Sur).

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    Don't drink too much alcohol...

    by Ramonq Written Aug 26, 2002

    Don't drink too much alcohol in La Paz. Because of the lack of oxygen out here, you will feel bloated and queasy. I had a terrible headache and my 'soroche' ie altitude sickness got worse. The local beer here by the way is La Pacena. It's drinkable.

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    Strolling around at the Witch...

    by B_Caro Written Aug 24, 2002

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    Strolling around at the Witch market. There is no danger in walking around at this place. Be prepared to bargain a lot when you want to buy some souvenirs (and there is a lot to buy). Bargaining is part of the game.

    At this witch market you can buy for example, a dry lama foetus, which brings you fortune and happiness if you bury it under the threshold of the entry of your house :-)
    You can really buy all kind of powders & stuff which brings fortune on one way or another.
    And maybe there is one serious warning ! These ladies are not very keen on being photographed. But after you bought something, and you ask them, you are more then welcome to make a photo :-)

    More Photos !!!

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  • pjallittle's Profile Photo

    HOW TO GET OUT Exit and...

    by pjallittle Written Aug 24, 2002

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    Exit and entrance ports are the same. However, you should be careful for there are some restrictions to the goods and substances that may be taken out of the country.

    Do not try to sneak out protected animals or plants (or parts of them). Sanitary certificates are mandatory for domestic animals being taken out of the country.

    In Bolivia there are very strict controls in relation to illicit drugs. Even the smallest amounts of cocaine, marijuana or any other controlled substance are penalized with several years in prison. Coca leaves may be legally consumed and taken out of the country, but they could get you into serious trouble in other countries.

    Local and international legislation prohibits the traffic of objects that are part of the country's archeological patrimony. A visitor, however, has unlimited access to a great variety of handicrafts of a very rich cultural value.

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