If you don't like dogs beware. There are dogs everywhere. Everyone wants to own one but not take the responsibility of them. They run around the streets all day and night. Most don't bother you but I did run into a few that weren't so friendly.
Hi I am currently volunteering in Rurrenabaque with an excellent eco-conservation agency called Madidi Travel, they operate in Serere, part of the Madidi Mosaic. From my experience the Jungle is not a dangerous place at all provided you have a good experienced guide, careful as some of the cheaper companies dont use very muich discretion when hiring guides and there are plenty of fakes out there. Id also highly recommend going with one of the conservation companies as many of the others damage the environments they visit and the animals. Handling animals, particularly such as anaconda is likely to end in their death as they have extremely sensitive skins which absorb chemicals like mosquito repelent adn sunscreen.
Not big healthy risks occur in Bolivia, but, some general issues around the european or american travellers is diarrhoea and if are not used the altitude too.
How to face diarrhoea: drink bottled water, avoid washed raw food (salad), and even soup (even if they are delicoius). If you still got the virus, don't ever go out without Immodium Pills (or other) and get some proper medicin for the problem. If the virus is very bad Bactrim is the strong medicin you should use, but try some ligther cure before to use it.
How to face the altitude: Again, there are few pills which really work the problem out, if you want to stay more natural, Indigenous always used the coca leaves for the altitude and tiredness, they work , but you need to eat a lot of them!
Going through the mines of Potosi it 's seriously one of the greatest experience of my life.. But Hey... don't won't tell you all the truth before to go there, they won't even describide what you re going to do! Not to sacre anybody..but just to be aware.. It is not a tourist walk inside the mines.. You really need to grovel inside small and dusty tunnels, after you re in the middle it will not be easy to come back, and if you are claustrophobic you 'll be in trouble.
Go and Do it if you are physically right! stay away if you got the feeling you can not do it!
Nothing really happened to me while I spent a month in this nice country. Just be careful as usual everywhere you go, and the two things I heard (but they didn't happen to me) were that few people were victims of robbery in the taxi, (there are many illegal taxi and you ll be able to recognize the legal ones just watching the car, should be yellow with a proper sign on the side). Another story I heard was that few travelers were stopped in the streets by fake police men with an old but still official uniform and they were asked to show the passport and searched. Don't ever let them doing that.. a police man can't search you in the street and if they want too, ask them to be brought to a police station.
I just visited Bolivia in August and heard rumors of new visa requirements for US citizens. It now seems to be official with enforcement starting on Dec 1st 2007. 100$ for a tourist visa valid for 5 years, 90 days per year.
For full details go to the bolivian embassy website
Then click on "Servicios Consulares" on the left menu bar.
Then near the top, click on visas.
Take care in Oruro. I caught a guy trying to lift my wallet and two friends both had their wallets stolen while there. Keep your money in a money belt or in your front pockets. These incidents took place in the downtown market.
This is for all women traveling alone or together. Do not get into any of the buses or van without making sure people in them are tourist and locals.
There is a gang kidnapping women traveling along or together. They pretend they are are legal drives and pick up wome(tourist). person(s) get in, there is a couple (bolivan) women/man pretending to be passengers. They are part of the group.
They don't stop to pick up other passengers (locals) once they get the women in the bus or van.
Once they take u to the holding place, they take your credit card and clean out your account.
They dump u on the road some where in the darkness.
If u see a women or 2 in a bus or van , with a couple and no ther people take the license plate ( if there's one) or warn them not to get in.
I heard the story on BBC (radio) the women was a mother /daughter and a dutch women (traveling alone).
Pass this on to other women and tell them to pass it one.
There is a very common way to steal tourists:
the thief disguises himself in a Police uniform! He even has ID, his uniform is exactly the same than the police one... He will come to you and he will tell you: I need to check your documents (step 1). I need to see your WALLET (step 2). Where is my money???? SNIFF (step 3).
So simply ignore him. Nothing will happen because he is not a real police. NO REASONS AT ALL FOR THE POLICE TO STOP YOU.
Always keep your wallet and camera hidden (the less people notice you are a tourist, the better). Do not put them in a "comfortable" position for some1 to pull them. I don´t mean with this that you have to become paranoic! Bolivia is one of the safest countries in Southamerica, but tourists are, anywhere, a particular target for certain kind of people.
Regarding to meals and hostage: it is better to pay a little more and to be in an acceptable hotel than to choose the cheapest one (service will not be good and probably the neighborhood either). The same with food; do not eat in the streets or in places that look too cheap. It is dangerous. If your budget is limited, then you can go to supermarkets; there are sandwiches and things like that there. And you can buy fruits, etc. It does not mean that you have to lose bolivian kitchen! But be careful (specially with fried things and fresh vegetables).
This is a suggestion for transportation from one city to other: the best of course is to travel by plane. It does not mean that buses are not a good option but you should know which to take (not all are good companies). Anyway, consider this: there is a big contrast between Andes & Amazonian, so to go from one place to the other is hard by bus. So, if you are in La Paz, then go by plane to Rurrenabaque (Beni) and to Santa Cruz. Otherwise, go step by step, from La Paz(andes) to Cochabamba (which is in the middle) and then to Santa Cruz(tropic).
If you are flying into Lapaz, there is one thing you need to be warned about. The airport is at over 13,000 feet where the air is thin. This can cause headache, dizzyness, shortness of breath, or in worse cases, nausea and vomiting. You will probabaly notice and least a slight headache and some heavier than normal breathing as you get off the plane. The Bolivians believe that soroche (altitude sickness) is relieved by coca tea, which can be found almost anywhere and is very good. From personal experience, it does seem to make you feel better.
EMIGRACION: it may have changed since the 80s...
I wasn't told I needed a visa to be allowed to go out of Peru into Bolivia, and vice versa: I was put in jail! They showed me a pile of passports on the desk (young people from Europe) and sorry I didn't take any picture.
I could save my life because I knew a few words of QUECHUA, the peruvian local language, and had an honest conversation with the lieutenant who let me out of Bolivia safely back to Peru.
the Altitude can be very dangerous.Oxygene, transported by the red bloodcell, is not so ready available for people who lived all they're Life below 1000m..when in La Paz on 3660m or 1200ft..take it easy, give or take a week..blood 'thin's' out..alias, one get more red bloodcell's..more Oxygen can be transported!
I hope it makes sense!!
Often you can see that others didn´t drive that carefully..............
it is also said that the most dangerous street of the world is in Bolivia too. It is the old street from la Paz down to Coroico. Nevertheless you see in numerous ways that corss the mountains of Bolivia crosses that symbolizes where people died, mostly because of accidents probably caused by old cars, busses, trucks and bad educated drivers....as also because of often bad street conditions.
Fortunately the main connections are meanwhile quite well maintained, there are a lot of new highways in Bolivia.
Arriving in La Paz by plane can make you feel sick because of the sudden altittude change...headache, dizzness, etc. A good idea is drinking coca leaves tea. They serve even at the hotel and you fell imediatly better.
Due to the pressures put on the Bolivian people (usually as a consequence of the US pressures on their Govt which adversely affect their lives), there are possibilities that your trip with have some delays. This was the result of a 20 day strike by the campisinos (peasant farmers) and it had the effect of crippling the country and closing the borders during that time. All roads were impassable. I had to walk across the border and the following 9kms into the closest town of Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca, and stay there until the strike was over and the roads cleared. As it turned out, that wasn't a hardship as without the tourists coming and going, the town was peaceful and very pleasant.
More Regions in Bolivia