Bolivia. Safe to travel in remote areas by bus?

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Bolivia. Safe to travel in remote areas by bus?

1. Posted by alteran (Budding Member 7 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

In light of the recent missing persons post I'm wondering how safe it will be to travel in Boliva. Particularly traveling on a bus from La Paz to Uyuni, around the salt lake area and on to Potosi. Some of this will be on a night bus.

2. Posted by HereICome (Full Member 67 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Yeh, that post has freaked me out too! We will be there in May and travelling independently by bus and staying in cheap hotels etc. Now Im feeling a little more apprehensive about it all...

3. Posted by Macachae (Full Member 240 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

I recommend to be up date with news at time of your journey think about politicals changes are coming with the new president is hard to say ... But Bolivia is a must!!!

4. Posted by alteran (Budding Member 7 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

I called the US embasssy in La Paz this morning and they told me that there is no more danger than in any other large city. Watch for petty theft, pickpockets, keep an eye on your belongings at all times, don't wear jewelry or watches. She compared it to bad parts of New York City.

Travel in the country is bad now in the rainy season with washed oout bridges and roads. Sounded like this is normal for Feb.

5. Posted by jccosta (Full Member 48 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

HI everyone

I was in bolivia last july/august and travel from LaPaz to cusco then cusco to San Pedro de Atacano (North of Chile) and head up via salar Uyuni to LaPaz again by bus.

I can tell you no problem, I meet several girls traveling alone with no problem.thanks

6. Posted by dbloom (Respected Member 586 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

If travelling anywhere by buses to remote areas in Central or South America make sure and store your excess luggages and valuables in a hotel or with friends in the nearest city or large town, often these buses have no luggage racks and become extremely crowded, large backpacks or luggages tied on the roof of the bus can easily be stolen enroute, check with others who have travelled to the area regarding lodging and safety. Go with a travel companion or two if possible. In some remote areas hitch hiking is a good option, in Central America locals with pick ups will give you rides and you offer a small propina or tip at arrival to help the driver with gas. Make sure you depart early in the morning and know the times buses leave and arrive..getting stuck at night anywhere is no fun.

7. Posted by Maktub (Budding Member 49 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Hey Jc, Maybe we crossed paths
I was there also last august, and I felt safer there than I do here in Dublin of a weekend.
I can understand your anxiety seeing that missing persons report, but how many people went missing, foriegners or otherwise, in the USA and Australia last year. Do you stay at home?
It is always good to be cautious no matter where you are, but I found Bolivians to be very friendly, and enjoyed travelling on buses with them.

Oh and by the way, I even found the muggers to be friendly.
I was trying to take money out of an ATM at about 2am one morning and my card would not work. I turned around and three guys were behind me. One with a knife. I told them i had no money and my card would not work. He asked to see me do it again, and then let me go on my way when he saw I could get no money. I know in Dublin id at least have gotten a slap in the head !!

Keep your wits about you...and youll love Bolivia too.

8. Posted by dbloom (Respected Member 586 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

As far as taking money out of ATMs, always try to do so during the day and bring a friend with you to watch your back. Never never take assistance from strangers, especially groups of young men or street children who usually work for adult criminals. If you are travelling alone and do not speak Spanish, you may become very vulnerable on the road. Never tell strangers your itinerary, where you are staying, or accompany them to a bar and accept drinks. If you meet and get to know other travellers on the road and decide to team up, all the better. As in any country, one can learn to say NO if in doubt. If you are spending at least a few weeks trekking Latin America, either a 2 week stint in a Spanish school or a trusted travel companion who speaks Spanish is recommended. One reason crime is rising in Latin America is that from 65-75% of the population is now under 25 in most countries, and many young men come from single parent households and unemployment and poverty is endemic.

9. Posted by andoriña (First Time Poster 1 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!


La Paz-Uyuni is generally ok, the trip can be some tiring overnight but that´s no big news. It´s a quite heavy taken route, mainly night buses but safe. As long as you take good care of your belongings, put money and cards on 3 or 4 different places, etc.

If you decide to come to the southeast, head to spectacular Samaipata (between Andes and lowlands) where we (Andres, Dutch and Doriña, Boliviana) have an almost opened hostel with more services (

Take care,

10. Posted by chuckolas (Full Member 31 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

I'm not one to throw caution to the wind, but my advice is not to worry. I lived there for three years without major mishaps, and I'm as white as white can be. The main dangers of the local you're headed to are bad smells and rather unattractive landscapes (though I suppose they have a charm of their own sort).
As for dealing with the natives, they are generally a friendly (if rather fickled) bunch. As a rule, even the poorest Bolivian natives are a proud people, and you will get farther with polite manners and smile than you might suspect.