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Health & Safety

Venezuela is like anywhere else in Latin America insofar as you should heed all the usual rules about not drinking the tap water, not having unprotected sex, keeping your stuff close to you and not flashing anything valuable in public.

Caracas is certainly the most unsafe part of the country, but it does have its safer districts. Altamira is generally OK, as is Chacao and Bello Monte, which are good areas to eat, drink and be merry. But always be aware of what’s going on around you and keep your things close by, as street kids have been known to enter restaurants and snatch bags from under tables.

Catching early and late buses from La Bandera in Caracas can be a bit hairy, thieves from the nearby slum pick on people travelling alone, single them out and force them down the dark alley by the petrol station where they are robbed at gunpoint. They will take everything, even your shoes and keys so be alert and consider waiting in the station until daybreak if your bus arrives very early in the morning.

Ciudad Universitaria is generally OK in the daytime but teachers and students are sometimes mugged in the extensive grounds around the Uni after dark. Sabana Grande is quite hectic but fine as long as you don’t flash your camera about, eating or drinking out under one of the covered areas is fun but relatively pricey, plus you will probably be approached by the odd beggar or street urchin.

The metro station at La Hoyada should be avoided after dark, and the clothes market around the lower entrance to the station is a hangout for pickpockets. Some of the vendors are real malandros, if you buy clothes there you might well be offered weed or coke to go with your new outfit, but if you’re not interested just say so and they should leave you alone.

There has been much talk about express kidnapping since the release of the film Secuestro Express, shot in Caracas portraying the ordeal endured by two rich young kidnap victims. Obviously this is a dramatisation so things are not quite as bad as the film makes out, but if you drive an expensive car or dress in expensive-looking clothes then you are more at risk than if you don’t. Either way, this is generally more of an issue for rich Venezuelans than for foreign backpackers, so enjoy the film and tell your friends about the great time you spent in the Kidnapping Capital of Latin America.