I intend to travel to South America, mainly Chile, Peru and Ecuador, but maybe also Bolivia and Colombia. The thing is, I want to take some decent landscape and animal pictures and therefore consider buying one or two rather expensive lenses and maybe also a new camera body.

But I don't know whether this is a good idea. I imagine walking around with a big camera will attract thieves and it would be a pretty annoying thing to get the new equipment stolen right in the first 2 or 3 months.

Does anyone have experience with that? Did you take your expensive camera with you when you went to those countries and would you recommend it? Or do you have any tips for me, like how to hide or secure the camera while traveling?

  • 4
    Also try to insure your gear before you leave
    – Grzenio
    Nov 16, 2012 at 7:34

6 Answers 6


I was back-packing in Latin America for 20 months and took my camera everywhere. But it was only a 400 dollar point and shot which fits in my trouser pocket. I used that camera everywhere maybe except inside the favelas in Brazil.

Some friends of mine had bigger SLRs with them and used them a lot too. In Bolivia I met a guy who was there for National Geographic and had some of the biggest photographic gear I've ever seen.

I find quotes like 'nearly every corner of their city is dangerous' ridiculous, I walked around all over the place in most big cities in South America, but was more careful in the dark.

If you are primarily after landscape and animal pictures, you should be fine.

In the cities, keep the big gear in a bag and use a smaller camera instead.

I made two backups of new photos every evening and stored them in different parts of my luggage. You can always get a new camera, but the photos are gone if the camera is stolen. Online backups are not always possible due to slow internet access.

My camera was eventually stolen in La Paz.

  • 3
    Thanks for the tips. But I don't know what to think now because of your last sentence...
    – rolve
    Nov 15, 2012 at 14:27
  • 4
    My camera was in my day-pack and they stole the whole bag from between my legs while sitting in an internet cafe without me noticing anything. It was my own fault for not being more careful, but this could have happened anywhere. Nov 15, 2012 at 14:38
  • 1
    Yes, the cafe/bus trick is commom place. When you sit/relax, make sure your pack is tied/secured. And count that it can also be opened without you noticing.
    – brasofilo
    Nov 19, 2012 at 0:53
  • Could you also tell us how your camera was stolen, so we would have an extra clue what not to do?
    – downhand
    Apr 24, 2015 at 7:25
  • @downhand - read my comment further up Apr 24, 2015 at 13:52

I spent 3 weeks in Peru last year, mostly in Lima, Cusco and the Sacred Valley, and Colca Canyon and Arequipa. Among our fancier possessions, I had a Canon camera with me and my husband had an Asus laptop. We're not physically intimidating people by any means (I'm just 5'2"), but I think we also carry ourselves confidently when we travel (e.g. no looking at maps in the middle of the street). We had no problems and no thefts in Peru (nor any during a year of travel we did a few years ago), though we are very aware of where our bags and belongings are at all times.

  • Ditto on all accounts. Being aware of your surroundings is the #1 most important part. Traveling with a like-minded buddy helps that a lot!
    – cdeszaq
    May 9, 2013 at 19:01

I'm from Peru, and I have to tell you that it is dangerous to bring such an expensive camera. However not all the zones are dangerous. I suggest you try to keep it hidden while you are in the city because most of the thieves always check on the foreigners. Some tips to avoid these dangerous situations is that you hire a taxi from the hotel to transport you, to buy tours around the city that usually go with a guide (stay with the group) and try to not walk in crowded streets in the city.


I live in Bolivia.

Yes there is always a risk when it comes to carrying around expensive camera equipment. There are risks in other countries as in the United States etc etc.

Some good ideas are:

  • Consider buying an older, used DSLR and leaving your nice one at
    home. Use a camera bag that doesn't scream "photographer."

  • Be careful where you leave your stuff.

  • Don't leave anything in hotel rooms when you have to step out.

  • Get travelers insurance.

  • Watch your back.


I don't have experience with that, although I know a blogger who does. He is writing:

According to the inhabitants of Quito, Guayaquil, Lima, Trujillo and Arequipa, nearly every corner of their city is dangerous

Almost everywhere, locals advise us to be careful, because it is “peligro”, especially with a camera

You can read the whole blog entry here.

  • 2
    I guess not more or less dangerous then walking with a big camera over your shoulder in the less fortunate parts of Berlin, Paris, Rome, etc for example..
    – ikku
    Jan 27, 2013 at 1:06

I've been to Bolivia twice and there are many photo opportunities in the country. I've only taken inexpensive cameras I could carry out of sight in my pants front pocket because of the possibility of theft. Keep your valuables with you at all times and secure. You are more vulnerable as a foreigner but even native Bolivians are not entirely safe. I have a friend who has lived there her entire life and the bottom was cut out of her purse and her Canon DSLR was stolen while walking down a street. Like the other comments, some places are better than others.

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