- Reviewed: 6 December 2019, 09:38 NZDT
- Still current at: 29 February 2020
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Exercise increased caution
Exercise increased caution in Bolivia due to civil unrest and violent crime.View Larger Map Close/Open map
The current political situation in Bolivia remains highly unpredictable following the abrupt resignation of the president at the urging of the military, in response to widespread protests in the wake of presidential elections on 20 October 2019. An interim government is in place ahead of new elections. Protests and the use of roadblocks are ongoing, particularly around Cochabamba. Protests may occur at short notice and turn violent without warning. Previous demonstrations have resulted in the deaths of some protesters. There have been disruptions to flights and to access to the International Airports in Santa Cruz and La Paz in recent weeks, and increased levels of disruption remain possible. Other essential services could also be affected in urban and rural areas.
New Zealanders in Bolivia should exercise a high degree of caution, avoid all protests and demonstrations, monitor the local media and adhere to any instructions issued by local authorities. No attempt should be made to pass or go around roadblocks as this may aggravate the situation and lead to violence.
Violent crime against foreigners, including armed robbery and assault occurs in tourist areas like La Paz and Santa Cruz. Petty crime is common in urban areas and around tourist sites and public transport facilities.
“Organised” robberies are common and have involved attempts by individuals or groups to distract or deceive tourists. Criminals sometimes pose as police officers or fellow tourists. Be aware that under Bolivian law, you are not obliged to follow a police officer unless he or she has a formal written request from a judge with your name on it, and any search or seizure must occur at a bona fide police station in the presence of the prosecutor.
Drug traffickers and other criminals in the border region present a serious danger to travellers. Particular care should be taken at land border crossings with Chile, Peru, and Brazil.
Local authorities caution people to avoid Coronilla Hill, the area adjacent to the main bus terminal in Cochabamba due to a high incidence of crime.
When travelling near Rurrenabaque, remain in large groups and only join tours organised by reputable tour operators as criminals have targeted tourists in this area.
Beware of individuals offering help, as thieves often work in teams to distract their victims. Tourists frequently report having liquid thrown on them and or their belongings and a person nearby offering to help them clean up.
“Express kidnappings” are when criminals abduct a victim and force them to withdraw funds from automatic teller machines (ATMs) to secure their release. There has been an increase in express kidnappings and robberies involving taxis and is common in the major cities of Cochabamba, La Paz and Santa Cruz. Overland border points with Chile, Peru and Argentina are also high risk areas. For your personal safety and to reduce the risk of this occurring, we recommend you use ATMs located within bank branches
Throughout the country, care should be taken when using public transport. Use only well-known radio taxi companies that can be easily identified by the telephone number displayed on the vehicle's roof. If travelling by bus, try to use direct routes and arrive during daylight hours whenever possible, especially along the popular route from Copacabana to La Paz, and avoid transferring at the Desaguadero border crossing with Peru.
The telephone number for the tourist police with English speaking operators is: ***********. Please note this number only works from within Bolivia.
General travel advice
Bolivia has strict rules relating to the import and export of prescription medication. Foreign nationals have been detained on arrival for possession of medicines that would not normally be problematic in other countries. New Zealanders are advised to carry a letter from a doctor describing their medical condition and any prescribed medication. Any medicines should be in their original containers and clearly labelled.
Medical facilities outside of the major cities can be very limited. New Zealanders travelling or living in Bolivia should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.
New Zealanders travelling or living in Bolivia are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Always keep your passport, air ticket and other valuable items in a safe place.
The New Zealand Embassy Santiago, Chile is accredited to Bolivia
Street Address Isidora Goyenechea 3000, 12th Floor, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile Telephone +56 2 2616 3000 Fax +56 2 2951 6138 Email email@example.com Web Site http://www.mfat.govt.nz/chile Hours Mon-Fri 0845-1300, 1400-1715 hrs
See our regional advice for Central/South America
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Accredited New Zealand Embassy Chile
Isidora Goyenechea 3000, 12th Floor, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile
Telephone: +56 2 2616 3000
Fax: +56 2 2951 6138
Hours: Mon-Fri 0845-1300, 1400-1715 hrs