everywhere you go their will be some danger south america is certainly no execption. but if you look at other countries maybe even your own crime knows no boarders. in 1990 in new york 2,245 were killed, they say colombia has 3000 kidnappings per yr. if you just use common sence and a bit knowledge on where to stay away from you should be fine and be able to enjoy yourself.
Holly, thank you for sharing what happened to you - I'm sorry you and your mother had to go throw that. I'll be travelling between Cusco and La Paz in a few weeks, so I greatly appreciate your advice.
Niels - you should be ashamed of yourself for downplaying what Holly went through. No matter how little of value you take, every tourist must have access to money, either via cash carried or an ATM/Credit Card. This is why tourists are targets, no matter how little of "value" they actually carry.
I beleive you, no one who has gotten pickpocketed or robbed or kidnapped needs a "lecture" from some "expert traveller" (an expert is someone from more more than 200 miles, 300 km. away who knows everything about everything and nothing about nothing). Travellers, young nd old, experienced and inexperienced should stay aware and never be nor act paranoid. Don't be afraid to say "NO" to those you do not know nor trust. Never go to an ATM machine alone, especially at night, and never invite strangers to your hotel room, etc. it is all common sense. In Latin America, from Mexico to Chile exist a network of first class and luxury buses to many destinations, don't try to travel all of Central and south America in tiny crowded microbuses to save a few dollars, at teh least your luggage may be gone from the roof af a bus before youu know it. And if travelling in remote areas leave your passport and credit or debit cards secure in hotel in town if possible. It's all common sense and it works worldwide. Pickpocketing occurs in crowds, bus stops and terminals, crowded buses and markets, carry only enough cash you feel you'll require. Armed robberies (usually at knifepoint) occur late in the evening usually in marginal areas of large cities or towns and the mentioned kidnappings are rare, if one follows common sense and instinct the chances of being robbed are perhaps a 1000-1. Oh by the way if you speak Spanish don't try to be too "high profile" and try to tell every local you meet your itinerary, where you are staying and where you are going next. And again don't be afraid to just say "NO".
Thanks for the post. This is a for information and help
good or bad. We all have to hear this and I am extremly glad
I am since I am notoriously bad for taking the cheaper
transportation/accomodationg even though the safer route is only maybe 10 bucks more.
FYI, I got the following email today, directly related to this topic. Seems the Times has picked up on it:
You may be interested to know that on Thursday January 18 (yesterday), the British paper The Times (Online) published a two page article about exactly this topic: the ordeal of Holly Sheldon and her mother in Bolivia last year June.
This being its URL (att.: two pages) :
'I've got a gun at my head'
Maybe you can revive the old thread, or maybe you can think of another way to revive attention on Travellerspoint for general crime against foreign backpackers in South America? Also taking into account that last week, in the disappearance & presumed murder-case of Manchester nurse Jenny Pope, the suspect was sentenced to 25 years in jail in Ecuador - even without Jenny's body ever being found back?
Oh, and we kept this thread alive whereas LP killed it (why I wouldn't know, didn't know they were that strict about moderating!!)...
I got goose bumps by reading this articel,a real nightmare,
thanks god they where set free.
Thanks again for the information..at least travelers to the area will be aware that the situation exists...Government Tourist and commercial tour operation web sites often never advise of dangerous situations that arise, as of course, they wish to attract visitors and clients for tours to their particular country/region. Guidebooks are usually only updated on a yearly basis. Many Latin American based travel websites are also rarely updated. Travelers then should keep up on this forum and the many others on the several excellent traveler's portals that exist for updates and warnings. The best advice is from natives, long term volunteers, ex pat residents and others who reside, work or travel in a particular country, know the customs and culture and speak the language, most whom have traveled through Central and South America have experienced few problems..sadly, there are always a few unlucky ones who land in the wrong place at the wrong time, through no fault of their own or fail to use common sense in certain situations. If you plan on long term travel in Latin America, and don't speak or understand Spanish, start learning now at home and take a short immersion/home stay course upon arrival as well, will broaden your horizons and you'll be able to understand what people are trying to tell you.
To rasberries: Often in Latin America you have to spend a few dollars or euros more to perhaps save thousands of dollars. When I had my auto in Guatemala I always 'took good care' tipping the "Jefe de La Calle" who watched parked cars. One night he walked in to teh ex pat bar with my car keys in hand, I had left them in the drivers side door! One fellow from Canada refused to tip, since parking on the street was "free", one day he got his tires slashed, the other his window smashed. There is a saying in Latin America "Barato sale caro", being or buying cheap can often be expensive...here in Central America third class or "chicken buses" don't cross international borders, I've seen travelers stranded at night in dangerous places, just to save a few dollars.
There was a programme on tv last night about Holly and her mother who were kidnapped.
I never realised until now it all happened as long ago as June 2006.The weird thing is ive just looked back at my travel photos and realised i was in Bolivia just 2 months after it happened and would of thought by then it would of been talked about alot while i was on my travels but i never heard anything about it until last night.
I can never recall anyone i met or any hostel i stayed in mentioning it or people telling us to stay away from these type of minibuses.
Ive also noticed unless i missed it that theres nothing on the Bolivian travel guide about this warning so would it be a good idea to but it there to let people know?
This is the program listing...Virgin in UK....http://uk-tv-guide.com/programme-details/Virgin+1/30+November+2008/20:00/My+Holiday+Hostage+Hell/Documentary/
However don't let a documenatary ruin your holiday..if you have doubts about any one destination, plan for another, be aware and use common sense. If planning on spending time trekking in very remote areas, especially in teh mountains or climbing volcanoes, do try and contract an experienced native guide from the nearest village.