If you are going to be climbing Machu Picchu you should definitely try to climb Huayna Picchu. Two things to keep in mind. #1. When I was there last I arrived at the visitor center really early in the morning (7:30-ish), but there was a half-mile long line just to get up to Huayna Picchu. So if you want to go, you may have to camp up there overnight! #2. Be careful climbing Huayna Picchu because it is very wet! It usually rains during the afternoon, and it is always foggy, and damp. So make sure you have a good footing because it’s a long way down...
By summer I guess you mean Brazilian winter so I suggest you go North if you want warm weather. It's also cheaper in the North. But Brazil is BIG so decide what you want to see and that makes it easier.
Traveling by bus is affordable and surprisingly comfortable (buy a seat "executivo" or "leito"). But there are stories of buses getting robbed in the North. You might also find good airfare on airlines like Gol and Azul.
Crime is everywhere but just keep an eye on your stuff and don't go to places where you shouldn't and you'll be fine. In general, don't go to the beach at night! Brazilians are really good swindlers so if anyone offers to hold your stuff it's generally a good idea to decline their (perhaps insistent) help. On the other hand if you're being robbed just give the thief what he wants, don't fight back. Also, to be safe should you be robbed, always walk around with a little bit of money to give to the thief because if you say you have nothing then you could be in trouble.
This is a negative review of Ormeno S.A. Bus Company which is a Peruvian bus company serving South America (Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina). I was told to be at their bus station in Lima at 12:00 noon for my “Royal Class” trip to Guayaquil this past November 15. The scheduled departure was 2:00 PM. I check two bags which contained some clothes, shoes, medicine, some computer devices e.g. security cable, usb cables, power supply, Magicjack phone. I carried a back pack with me which contained my computer, camera, and a sweat shirt. When we finally boarded the bus at 4:00 PM I noticed the bus seem not be in very good condition. The upholstery was worn and the bus was dirty. The bathroom filthy having a plastic jug with some water to wash with. I thought to myself “I hope we don’t break down”.
Well about 11:00 pm we did just that in the middle of the desert. It was a broken water hose. The bus had few tools to work with relying on flagged down cars on the highway. Some passengers build a fire as a signal to other drivers because it was pitch dark. Once the water hose was fixed; now we had to get some water. After a few hours we were back on our way. Oh, this is not the worst part.
We finally got to Guayaquil the next night at about 9:30 PM. Instead of taking us to a bus terminal we were dropped off on a very dark street near their office. When I went to retrieve my check bags I discovered my bags were missing. I was told that my bags might have been put on a different bus in Lima and to return to their Guayaquil office the next morning.
I returned as instruction and spoke to an individual by the name of Jorge. Jorge told me my bags were in Lima and I could have them the next day. He told me not to go the office but to call. Of course no phone number was given so I had to find it. I was assured my bags were found and that I would get my bags.
I had an Ecuadoran friend call for me because I do speak Spanish however, I felt it better to have a native communicate for me. My friend called the next day and she was told my bags were somewhere in South America in Argentina, Bolivia or Chile. I was instructed to return to the office the next morning at 11:30 to speak to the Guayaquil manager. I prepared a document in Spanish which stated that I had to return to my home in Costa Rica the next day. The document contained instructions about shipping my bags to me; noting that they continued to tell me they had my bags and they would be returned to me.
I returned to their Guayaquil office as instructed to meet the manager. The manager’s name is Americo Pachas Levano, Lcdo. Mr. Levano seems surprised that I had prepared a document to be signed describing the situation and solution. I don’t think he want to see me because I had to ask worker if I could meet him. Up to the point where I met him all communications were conducted via “worker passing messages”. Mr. Levano had me sign their document which basically said the same as mine except they added that they could not be responsible for anything stolen. He refused to sign my document.
Now there were two other issues that resulted from this incident. First, I went to the US Consultant Office in Guayaquil to see if they could do anything. While passing through security I saw three contract security guard going through my document/money pouch (U$40 was missing). I reported it but nothing was done. Second, because I was traveling with no baggage I was selected to be interviewed and a searched by the police at the Guayaquil airport.
Anyone traveling in South America by bus should be advised NOT TO TRAVEL with this bus company (Ormeno S.A.) Ormeno has my contract information e.g. phone number, address and email address should they want to contact me but I will not hold my breath.
In Valparaiso your cruiseship will be docked in just a tiny walking-distance to the main attractions in the centre of town, BUT:
You are not allowed to just walk over there, you first have to take a bus to the very other end of the pier / port, about 2-3 km from your ship, because ONLY THERE the security-checks with X-ray etc. can be done and walking is forbidden in the port-area, so there will be a shuttlebus !
This procedure will cost you a lot of extra time and you will have to walk back to the city or catch a taxi. I found this very annoying, but nobody cared about it !
So maybe you do all of your sightseeing in Valparaiso, BEFORE you embark the ship, because once that you are onboard, the time might be too short to get back to the city and take a look around !
A bit obvious, but if you use a taxi driver, define the fare well in advance and also bargain. You can hire one for the whole day to take you (in Rio) to the Jesus statue.
The only thing you have to worry about in Rio is wearing obvious gold jewellery. You also have to NOT go for the scam of a passport protection scheme at the airport. Wear old clothes, no obvious wealth, nothing that can be stolen and a bumbag under the clothes to hold your valuables. Forget watches. Dress simply and lightly, local shoes are good, I did stay at the Trocodero close to Ipanema beach.
In most countries in the world the ‘OK’ symbol made using one hand means just that – OK. In fact, in all South American countries that speak Spanish, the OK sign is OK. Here in Brazil it means something much much worse and is shockingly offensive. Don’t do it or you may just get a punch in the nose. Or worse. In fact, I don’t even have a picture of this offensive gesture, so please enjoy some random photos of Brazil I have loaded for your viewing pleasure.
Continuation of other vaccinations needed by kids who travel to other continents taken from:
ROUTINE INFANT AND CHILDHOOD VACCINATIONS
Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine
Infants and children should be as well protected as possible against measles and should complete the immunization series before traveling. While the risk for serious disease in infants from either mumps or rubella is low, these diseases do circulate in many parts of the world and vaccination is recommended.
In addition to the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR), monovalent measles, monovalent mumps, monovalent rubella, and combinations of the components are available from the manufacturer. A combined measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella vaccine (MMRV) was also licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2005 for children age 12 months-12 years. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that MMR be administered when any of the individual components is indicated as part of the routine immunization schedule (MMRV can be used if varicella vaccine is also indicated). Two doses of MMR are routinely recommended for all children, usually at age 12 months and again at age 4-6 years. The second dose can be given as soon as 28 days after the first dose. If MMRV is used, note that two varicella-containing vaccines should be separated by at least 3 months.
Before travel outside the U.S., children 12 months of age and older should receive two doses of MMR separated by at least 28 days. Children age 6-11 months, if they must travel outside the U.S., should receive monovalent measles vaccine before departure if it is available, or MMR if monovalent measles vaccine is not available. However, MMR given before age 12 months should not be counted as part of the series. Children who receive MMR before age 12 months will need two more doses of MMR, the first of which should be administered at 12 months of age.
Varicella (chickenpox) is an endemic disease throughout the world. Two doses of varicella vaccine are recommended for all susceptible children 12 months of age and older. The first dose is recommended at age 12-15 months. The second dose is routinely recommended at age 4-6 years but can be given earlier, provided that at least 3 months have passed since the first dose.
Efforts should be made to ensure varicella immunity before age 13 years, because varicella disease can be more severe among older children and adults. Children 13 years of age and older should receive two doses of varicella vaccine 4-8 weeks apart.
Vaccination is not necessary for children with health care provider-diagnosed chickenpox. When a prior history of chickenpox is uncertain, the vaccine should be given.
Meningococcal disease (including meningococcal meningitis) is caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis and has high morbidity and mortality rates. Epidemics occur in sub-Saharan Africa during the dry season (December through June), and CDC recommends travelers be vaccinated before traveling to this region. Meningococcal vaccination is a requirement to enter Saudi Arabia when traveling to Mecca during the annual Hajj
Two vaccines are available in the U.S. that protect against four serogroups of N. meningitidis (A, C, Y, and W-135): the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) and the meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4). MCV4 is approved for use in persons 2-55 years of age and is recommended by the ACIP for routine vaccination of adolescents at 11-18 years of age. MCV4 is also recommended for persons 2-55 years of age who travel to or reside in areas where N. meningitidis is hyperendemic or epidemic. MPSV4 can be used when MCV4 is not available. The serogroup A polysaccharide in MPSV4 induces an antibody response in some children as young as 3 months. Thus, vaccinating infants traveling to high-risk areas can provide some degree of protection. For children vaccinated at younger than 4 years of age, revaccination in 2-3 years should be considered if they remain at high risk for infection. For children vaccinated at 4 years of age and older, revaccination should be considered in 5 years if they remain at high risk. (Section Updated February 15, 2008)
Streptococcus pneumoniae causes substantial morbidity and mortality throughout the world each year. The vaccine is available in two forms: the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) and the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV23).
All infants should be vaccinated with PCV7. Infant vaccination provides the earliest protection, and infants younger than 23 months of age have the highest incidence of pneumococcal disease. The primary series for PCV7 includes three doses given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age with a fourth (booster) dose at 12-15 months of age. Children 24 months of age and older who are at high risk for pneumococcal disease (e.g., those with sickle cell disease, asplenia, HIV, chronic illness, or immunocompromising conditions) should receive a dose of PPV23 at least 2 months following their last dose of PCV7. If the child is 10 years of age or younger, one revaccination with PPV23 should be considered 3-5 years after the first dose of PPV 23.
Unvaccinated children 7-11 months of age should receive two doses of PCV7 at least 4 weeks apart and a booster dose at age 12-15 months. Unvaccinated children 12-23 months of age should receive two doses at least 8 weeks apart. Vaccination with a single dose of PCV7 should be considered for previously unvaccinated healthy children 24-59 months of age. Previously unvaccinated children 24-59 months of age at high risk for pneumococcal disease (as previously described) should receive two doses separated by at least 8 weeks. Children 24-59 months of age who are at increased risk for pneumococcal disease and who were previously vaccinated with PPV23 should receive two doses of PCV7 separated by at least 8 weeks. The PCV7 vaccine is not routinely recommended for children older than 59 months (5 years) of age.
Influenza vaccine can reduce the risk of influenza infection in transmission sea-son (typically November-February in the Northern Hemisphere, April-September in the Southern Hemisphere, and throughout the year in the tropics). The vaccine is prepared in two forms: an intramuscular trivalent inactivated vaccine (TIV) and a live, attenuated, intranasal vaccine (LAIV).
All children 6-59 months of age should receive TIV annually, as should all children at risk for complicated influenza infection due to chronic medical conditions , including but not limited to asthma, cardiac disease, sickle cell disease, HIV, and diabetes. In addition, all persons who have close contact with healthy children younger than 59 months of age (particularly infants younger than 6 months of age) or with persons at increased risk of influenza complications should be vaccinated annually. For healthy children 5 years of age and older, LAIV is an acceptable alternative to TIV. (LAIV can be given to healthy persons 5-49 years of age.)
Children receiving TIV should be administered an age-appropriate dose (0.25 mL for those 6-35 months of age and 0.5 mL for those 36 months of age and older). Children 8 years of age and younger who are receiving influenza vaccine for the first time should receive two doses (separated by at least 4 weeks for TIV and 6-10 weeks for LAIV). Children 9 years of age and older should receive one injection of the 0.5-mL dose.
Hepatitis A Vaccine or Immune Globulin for Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is endemic in most parts of the world, and infants and children traveling to these areas are at increased risk for acquiring HAV infection. Although HAV is often not severe in infants and children younger than 5 years of age, those infected efficiently transmit infection to older children and adults, who are at higher risk of severe disease.
Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all children at age 1 year (i.e., 12-23 months) . Vaccination should be ensured for all susceptible children traveling to areas where there is an intermediate or high risk of HAV infection. The HAV vaccine series consists of two doses at least 6 months apart. The first dose should be administered 4 weeks before travel to allow time for an adequate immune response to develop. The second dose is necessary for long-term protection.
The vaccine is not approved for children younger than 1 year of age. Children less than 1 year of age who are traveling to high-risk areas should receive immune globulin (IG). For optimal protection, IG may also be given to children older than 1 year who will be traveling less than 4 weeks after receipt of the first dose of hepatitis A vaccine. The vaccine and IG can be administered at the same time at different anatomic sites.
IG does not interfere with the response to yellow fever vaccine but can interfere with the response to other live injected vaccines (e.g., measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), and varicella vaccines). Administration of MMR should be delayed for at least 3 months and varicella for more than 5 months after administration of IG. Moreover, IG should not be administered for 2 weeks after measles-, mumps-, and rubella-containing vaccines and for 3 weeks after vaccination with varicella vaccine. If IG is given during this time, the child should be revaccinated with the live vaccine at least 3 months after administration of IG. When travel plans do not allow adequate time for administration of live vaccines and IG before travel, the severity of the diseases and epidemiology of the diseases at destination points will help determine the most appropriate course of preparation.
Other vaccinations are continued in another tip page...cannot fit...
OTHER VACCINES that kids "might need" before going intercontinental
Yellow Fever Vaccine
Yellow fever, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes, is endemic in certain areas of Africa and South America . Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into some countries.
Infants are at high risk for developing encephalitis from yellow fever vaccine, a live virus vaccine. Vaccination of infants should be considered on an individual basis. Although the incidence of these adverse events has not been clearly defined, 14 of 18 reported cases of post-vaccination encephalitis were in infants younger than 4 months old. One fatal case confirmed by viral isolation was in a 3-year-old child.
Travelers with infants younger than 9 months of age should be strongly advised against traveling to areas within the yellow fever-endemic zone. The ACIP recommends that yellow fever vaccine never be given to infants younger than 6 months of age. Infants 6-8 months of age should be vaccinated only if they must travel to areas of ongoing epidemic yellow fever and a high level of protection against mosquito bites is not possible. Infants and children older than 9 months of age can be vaccinated if they travel to countries within the yellow fever-endemic zone. Physicians considering vaccinating infants younger than 9 months of age should contact the Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases (970-221-6400) or the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (404-498-1600) at CDC for advice.
Typhoid fever is an acute, life-threatening febrile illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella enterica Typhi. Vaccination is recommended for travelers to areas where there is a recognized risk of exposure to S ser. Typhi.
Two typhoid vaccines are available: a Vi capsular polysaccharide vaccine (ViCPS) administered intramuscularly and an oral, live, attenuated vaccine (Ty21a). Both vaccines induce a protective response in 50%-80% of recipients. The ViCPS vaccine can be administered to children who are at least 2 years of age, with a booster dose 2 years later if continued protection is needed. The Ty21a vaccine, which consists of a series of four capsules ingested every other day, can be administered to children 6 years of age and older. All the capsules should be taken at least 1 week before potential exposure. A booster series for Ty21a should be taken every 5 years if indicated.
Because neither vaccine is fully protective, preventing contamination of food and beverages remains extremely important.
Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine
Japanese encephalitis (JE) is transmitted by primarily night-biting mosquitoes in rural areas of Asia and the Pacific Rim. In temperate climates, their numbers are greatest from June through September; they are inactive during the winter. Most reported cases occur in children. Although most infections are asymptomatic, when encephalitis occurs, the mortality rate can be as high as 30%; neurologic sequelae occur in 50% of survivors and are more common in the very young. The risk to short-term travelers and those who confine their travel to urban centers is very low. Expatriates and travelers living for prolonged periods in rural areas where JE is endemic or epidemic are at greatest risk. The decision to vaccinate a child should take into consideration the itinerary, expected activities, and level of JE activity in the country.
JE vaccine is administered as a series of three injections on days 0, 7, and 30. A booster dose is administered at least 24 months later. Children 1-2 years of age receive 0.5 mL of vaccine per dose; those 3 years of age and older receive 1.0 mL of vaccine per dose. No data are available on vaccine efficacy for infants younger than 1 year of age.
JE vaccine is associated with local reactions in approximately 20% of vaccinees and mild systemic reactions (e.g., fever, headache, myalgias, and rash) in approximately 10% . Serious allergic reactions, including generalized urticaria and angioedema of the extremities, face, and oropharynx have been reported in up to 0.6% of vaccinees, with accompanying respiratory distress or hypotension in a small number of these cases. Importantly, these hypersensitivity reactions can be delayed for 1 to 2 weeks after receipt of the vaccine. Children receiving the vaccine series should be observed for 30 minutes after immunization. Moreover, the series should be completed at least 10 days before departure, and during that time, vaccine recipients should be remain in areas with access to medical care.
Rabies is an acute, fatal encephalomyelitis usually transmitted by the bite of an infected mammal. Rabies occurs throughout the world and is endemic in most countries. As with other vaccines, the decision to vaccinate will depend on the itinerary and expected activities during international travel. The decision should also be guided by the availability of appropriate antirabies biologics at the destination . Children should always be instructed to report all bites and to avoid contact with animals other than their own pets.
Two rabies vaccines are licensed for use in the United States. Each may be administered to infants and children. All the rabies vaccines, when used in a preexposure regimen, are given as a series of injections on days 0, 7, and 21 or 28. Even if a child has completed the preexposure vaccine series, any mammal bite warrants immediate medical evaluation to determine the need for postexposure immunization.
This information came from the CDC regarding vaccination for kids going not only to South America, but to other continents as well....
ROUTINE INFANT AND CHILDHOOD VACCINATIONS
Hepatitis B Vaccine
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a cause of acute and chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. There are more than 200 million chronically infected persons worldwide; the risk of chronic infection is highest when infection occurs in infancy or childhood and declines with age. Infants and children who have not previously been vaccinated and who are traveling to areas with intermediate and high HBV endemicity are at risk if they are directly exposed to blood (or body fluids containing blood) from the local population. Circumstances in which HBV transmission could occur in children include receipt of blood transfusions not screened for HBV surface antigen (HBsAg), exposure to unsterilized medical or dental equipment, or continuous close contact with local residents who have open skin lesions (impetigo, scabies, or scratched insect bites).
Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all infants in the United States, with the first dose administered soon after birth and before hospital discharge . Infants and children who will travel should receive the three doses of HBV vaccine before traveling. The interval between doses one and two should be at least 4 weeks. Between doses two and three, the interval should be a minimum of 8 weeks; the interval between doses one and three should be at least 16 weeks. The third dose should not be given before the infant is at least 24 weeks of age. Adolescents not previously vaccinated with hepatitis B vaccine should be vaccinated at 11-12 years of age. For adolescents, the usual schedule is two doses separated by at least 4 weeks, followed by a third dose 4-6 months after the second dose.
Diphtheria and Tetanus Toxoid and Pertussis Vaccine
Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis each occur worldwide and are endemic in countries with low immunization levels. Infants and children leaving the United States should be immunized before traveling. Optimum protection against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis is achieved with at least three but preferably four doses of diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP). The usual primary series includes four doses given at 2, 4, 6, and 15-18 months of age (2). A fifth (booster) dose is recommended when the child is 4-6 years of age. The fifth dose is not necessary if the fourth dose in the primary series was given after the child’s fourth birthday.
For infants and children younger than 7 years of age, if an accelerated schedule is required to complete the series before travel, the schedule may be started as soon as the infant is 6 weeks of age, with the second and third doses given 4 weeks after each preceding dose. The fourth dose should not be given before the infant is 12 months of age and should be separated from the third dose by at least 6 months. The fifth (booster) dose should not be given before the child is 4 years of age. Two doses of DTaP received at intervals at least 4 weeks apart can provide some protection; however, a single dose offers little protective benefit. Parents should be informed that infants and children who have not received at least three doses of DTaP might not be fully protected against pertussis.
Haemophilus influenzae Type b Conjugate Vaccine
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is an endemic disease worldwide that can cause fatal meningitis, epiglottitis, and other invasive diseases. Infants and children should have optimal protection before traveling. Routine Hib vaccination beginning at 2 months of age is recommended for all U.S. children (2). The first dose may be given when an infant is as young as 6 weeks of age. Vaccination before age 6 weeks may induce immune tolerance to subsequent vaccines and should never be done. A primary series consists of two or three doses (depending on the type of vaccine used) with a minimum interval of 4 weeks between doses. A booster dose is recommended when the infant is at least 12 months of age, at least 8 weeks after the previous dose.
If Hib vaccination is started when the infant or child is 7 months of age or older, fewer doses are required. If different brands of vaccine are administered, a total of three doses of Hib conjugate vaccine completes the primary series. After completion of the primary infant vaccination series, any of the licensed Hib conjugate vaccines may be used for the booster dose when the infant is 12-15 months of age.
If previously unvaccinated, infants younger than 15 months of age should receive at least two vaccine doses before travel. An interval as short as 4 weeks between these two doses is acceptable. Unvaccinated infants and children 15-59 months of age should receive a single dose of Hib vaccine. Children older than 59 months of age, adolescents, and adults do not need to be vaccinated unless a specific condition exists such as functional or anatomic asplenia, immunodeficiency, immunosuppression, or HIV infection.
While polio has been eliminated in the US, poliovirus continues to circulate in parts of Africa and Asia, including South Asia. In the US, all infants and children should receive four doses of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) at 2, 4, 6-18 months, and 4-6 years of age. If accelerated protection is needed, the minimum interval between doses is 4 weeks. The minimum age for the fourth dose is 18 weeks. Infants and children who had initiated the poliovirus vaccination series with one or more doses of oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) should receive IPV to complete the series. Proof of vaccination is required to enter Saudi Arabia for the Hajj.
Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe gastroenteritis in infants and young children worldwide. In developing countries rotavirus gastroenteritis is responsible for approximately 500,000 deaths per year among children younger than 5 years. Routine rotavirus vaccination beginning at about 2 months of age is recommended for all U.S. children. The first dose of the series must be administered between 6 and 12 weeks of age. The vaccination series should not be initiated for children 13 weeks of age or older because of a lack of safety data when the series is begun after 12 weeks of age. Two additional doses are recommended at 4 and 6 months of age. A minimum interval of 4 weeks between doses can be used if an accelerated schedule is needed. All three doses of the series should be administered no later than 32 weeks of age (about 71⁄2 months). Rotavirus vaccine should not be administered to infants older than 32 weeks of age even if the 3-dose series has not been completed.
Other vaccinations: Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine, Varicella Vaccine, Meningococcal Vaccine, pneumococcal, influena, Hep A .....see in my list of other vaccinations....
Cannot fit all of it in this one page...
Hello! Safety depends a lot on how much of a wise traveler you are and knowing the right people in the country. All the countries in Latin Aamerica have interesting things for people to enjoy, from relaxing beaches to colonial downtowns and ancient archeology. There's a woman here on VT that is currently traveling through South America. Her member name is tampa_shawn, and she can give you a lot of tips and pointers. She is a budget traveler though, and maybe you can afford a bit more safety and comfort than her. About the safety part, it's more about you than the actual country. Peru for example is one of the great destinations for archeology travel (Machu Picchu), Venezuela for beaches and eco travel (Los Roques - Angel Falls), and both sound very unsafe on paper. Don't limit yourself too much on the whole safety thing. It normally sounds worse than what it really is. Latin America has much to offer.
Whilst in La Paz, Bolivia, I was walking down a street when a girl tourist came up to me saying she was lost and could I help her find a particular street. She said she was from Chile and travelling alone so I walked with her down the road. A short distance later a man appeared and showed his I.D. claiming to be Tourist Police. He wanted to search us for drugs.
He then flagged down a passing taxi and told us to get in. I didn`t like it but the girl climbed in so I followed. He then asked for our IDs so she showed him her passport. He then searched through her bag and wallet. Then he asked me for my ID but Ì keep it and my bankcards locked up in a safe at my hotel, luckily for me. Then he searched through my bag.
It was really obvious by now that this guy was not a cop and I was in a potentially dangerous situation, the "taxi driver" was fake also.
He handed me back my bag and said it was ok for me to go. I stepped out of the taxi and it sped off still with the girl inside. I thought she had been kidnapped but really she was in on the scam too.
While making a report with the real Tourist Police there was a girl there with a similar story.
She had been befriended by a girl tourist and had offered to share a taxi into the town centre from the bus station. While they were driving a man climbed in with them, again claiming to be the police searching for drugs. She was threatened with violence and they took her camera and her money.
So never, ever get into a car with anyone, walk away. Real cops wear uniforms with their names on the front and do not show ID badges to people. So if anyone shows you an ID it is fake so WALK AWAY.
Also, if someone else gets into your taxi get out immediately so do not put your bags in the boot always have them near at hand for a quick getaway.
There was no violence or threat of violence while I was being robbed but if I had resisted then who knows what could have happened.
All I lost was a camera which was insured so I count myself as lucky.
Having said that, La Paz is a stunning place and you shouldn`t let this put you off going there, just bear in mind my story.
If you get pick pocketed when you are travelling then you were probably drunk or maybe you are a little stupid ! There are some thieves that prey on normal human reaction in order to rob you in broad daylight.
Usually they work in gangs consisting of a couple of kids, and an older, faster, stronger snatcher.
In a busy but crowded place such as a market, the kids will flick ice cream or fruit on to an unsuspecting travellers clothing/bag.
The normal instant reaction to this is to remove the bag or jacket to wipe it clean. At this split second the elder member will run from behind snatching the loosest item. whether it be a camera, bag or jacket.
All you can hope to do is recognise when this happens to you and try to leave the area immediately to find help. Keep your wits about you. A suspicious traveller is a safe traveller.
As for animals, don't worry, they're not that many dangerous ones out there. Keep an eye on the llamas though because they give a nasty kick if you turn your back on them (speaking from experience) :)
Keep a grip on your belongings (sometimes just an eye on it ain't enough). If you're in a bus, tie your daypack around your legs, especially while you sleep. If you're carrying expensive stuff then don't go showing it off to people. No need to tempt a thief.
As I was walking and minding my way in downtown La Paz, two Bolivians tried to rob me, which looking back looks funny. I was walking from Plaza Murillo towards a museum via Calle Illumani. On route, I met this Bolivian Tourist who was lost and asking for directions. We laughed when I told him I was a tourist. After talking for a few minutes, he continued his search. Then, he stopped to look at an address. It was at this point, as I was catching up to him that a cop with a strange black vest approached us saying he was doing a document search. I knew the Tourist Police was a couple of blocks further and since it sounded like a scam I kept walking and told him to follow me there. He didn't follow me of course, which proved he was a fake cop. Their major mistake was driving away from the scene in their black car. I managed to write down the license plates :). I proceeded to the police station where two Peruvian ladies where filling a report. Apparently they were robbed by the same fake cop an hour earlier and now had no passport as well as being out of $200 US. Ironically, the museum was closed for renovations.
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