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Practical information about Bolivia

1. Climate

Bolivia is located in the heart of South America, without any direct connection to the sea. The climate in the county varies greatly, largely on account of the Andes Mountains and the significant variations in altitude. To the west/south-west lies Altiplano – a highland area between 3,500 and 4,000 metres above sea level, bordered by two mountain ranges. This region is home to splendid destinations including Lake Titicaca, La Paz and Salar de Uyuni. The highlands are cool during the day and can be extremely cold at night. To the north and east lie the lowlands, distinguished by rainforest, swampland and the flat savannah. The climate here is warm and very humid. The year can generally be divided into a dry period (winter) and a rainy period (summer). The rainy season lasts from November until March, and the rains are particularly heavy in January and February. The dry period runs from April until October.

Weather statistics for La Paz:

Day temp. 13 13 14 14 13 13 13 14 14 16 16 14
Night temp. 3 3 2 2 0 -2 -3 -2 0 2 3 3
Precipitation, mm 116 110 66 26 14 3 6 12 29 42 44 96
JAN 13 3 116
FEB 13 3 110
MAR 14 2 66
APR 14 2 26
MAY 13 0 14
JUN 13 -2 3
JUL 13 -3 6
AUG 14 -2 12
SEP 14 0 29
OCT 16 2 42
NOV 16 3 44
DEC 14 3 96

Weather statistics for Santa Cruz:

Day temp. 31 30 30 29 26 24 25 28 30 31 31 31
Night temp. 23 22 22 21 18 17 17 18 19 21 22 22
Precipitation, mm 161 136 94 68 63 53 34 40 52 88 116 141
JAN 31 23 161
FEB 30 22 136
MAR 30 22 94
APR 29 21 68
MAY 26 18 63
JUN 24 17 53
JUL 25 17 34
AUG 28 18 40
SEP 30 19 52
OCT 31 21 88
NOV 31 22 116
DEC 31 22 141

2. The following are not included in our package tour prices

  • International departure tax of USD 25, payable on departure from La Paz
  • Local airport fees
  • Meals except those specifically mentioned
  • Cancellation and travel insurance
  • Gratuities

3. When is it best to travel to Bolivia?

It is best to travel to Bolivia in the period April–October, when the weather is generally fine, with plenty of sun and cloudless skies. Please note that in the highlands, there is an appreciable difference between the temperature in the sun and in the shade, and that it is not unusual for the temperature to drop below freezing at night. Both highlands and lowlands experience the rainy season from November until March, and heavy rains can leave some areas inaccessible.

4. Terms and conditions

Please read our booking terms and conditions carefully. These terms and conditions constitute the basis of your package purchased from Llamatours.co.uk. Click here to read our terms and conditions.

All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to:www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate

5. Assistance with taking out travel insurance

We are an ATOL protected agency giving you complete peace of mind. It is a condition of booking that the sole responsibility lies with the guest to ensure that they carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover themselves, as well as any dependants/traveling companions for the duration of their trip.

In cooperation with our partner we can offer advantageous travel insurances. Learn more here.

6. Time difference

The difference between Central European Time (CET) and the time in Bolivia varies depending on whether Europe is on summer or winter time.
Summer time: – 6 hours. This means that when it is noon CET, it is 06.00 in Bolivia.
Winter time: – 5 hours.

7. Language

Spanish is the language spoken in Bolivia, but the people are very helpful and love the chance to use the English words they know. In more rural regions, however, English speakers may be few and far between, which is why we use bilingual (English/Spanish) guides. It is a good idea to end questions and queries with the words ‘por favor’, which mean ‘please’. Another good word to know is ‘gracias’ – which means ‘thank you’ and is sure to prove useful in many situations.

8. Vaccinations

We recommend that you contact a medical specialist, your GP or an authorised vaccination clinic.
Visit the CDC website at wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list for more information about vaccinations in Bolivia.

9. Passport/Visa/ESTA

Your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months after your return home.

UK citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days.

The following regulations apply if you are flying via the United States:

UK citizens with a clean criminal record may visit the United States for up to 90 days without a visa. UK citizens are covered by what is known as the ‘Visa Waiver Program’ and must therefore apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) – a mandatory travel permit valid for 90 days on arrival. ESTA registration replaces the green form that was previously distributed on the aircraft. Without an ESTA, you will not be permitted to enter the United States. You will need to apply for approval at least 72 hours before departing for the United States. ESTA registration costs USD 14 per person, and all travellers must fill in the relevant form online at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/. It is important to stress that the authorities in the United States may reject applicants under the ESTA programme, both in connection with the application process and actually on arrival in the United States. However, this is extremely rare, and the vast majority of travellers enjoy a problem-free journey to the United States. We recommend that you carry a physical copy of your ESTA approval with you – in case the system is down when you arrive, for example – but this is not an absolute requirement. ESTA registration is valid for two years, but you will need to renew it if you visit the country again.

If you have visited Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on or later than 1 March 2011, you will need to apply for a visa at the American Embassy. You cannot apply for an ESTA. The same applies if you hold dual citizenship in Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria.

10. Currency

The unit of currency in Bolivia is the Boliviano. Go to www.xe.com/currencyconverter/ to view the currently applicable exchange rate. We recommend that you bring some US dollars with you in cash, and then exchange these for local currency at an official bureau de change. Also bring a credit card and make sure to memorise your PIN code. NEVER write your PIN code down! There are cashpoint machines (ATMs) almost everywhere. You can also use most common credit cards at hotels and in many shops and restaurants. Once again, however, the farther out into the country you travel, the harder it may be to use your credit card.

11. Price level

Prices are typically lower in Bolivia than in the European countries. It is usually cheaper to eat out, although you can naturally find drinks and meals in all price classes. Prices are generally also lower outside the large towns and cities. You can normally enjoy a good meal for around EUR 5.

12. Tipping

In restaurants, you should not usually tip more than 10%. You do not need to tip taxi drivers. However, it is customary for each guest to give the travel guide USD 4 and the bus driver USD 2 per day. Please note that while tipping is always voluntary – i.e. not compulsory – it is customary and usual practice in Latin American countries.

13. Electricity

The Bolivian grid operates on 220 volts, although the mains electricity in La Paz is 110/120 volts.

14. Telephone and Internet

The international dialling code for Bolivia is +591. It can be expensive to call home to Europe from Bolivia. Ask your own mobile service provider about coverage and call charges.
There are Internet cafés in most large towns and cities.

15. Safety

Whenever you travel to a poor country anywhere in the world, it is important to be discreet. It is not a good idea to flaunt your valuables or to leave them unattended. We work exclusively with properly trained, experienced and certified travel guides, who can always provide you with good advice about safety, and know precisely where it is safe for you to walk/visit. If you follow your travel guide’s instructions you should always be able to stay out of trouble.

16. Food and drink

Bolivia is home to a host of different culinary styles, which vary from one region to the next. Unsurprisingly, fish dishes are popular in the area around Lake Titicaca, and we highly recommend those that feature trout raised in the lake itself. Otherwise, the national cuisine is heavily based on beef, chicken and fish, commonly served with potatoes and salad. Bolivia was actually the country from which potatoes were originally brought to Europe, and many different types are grown there – many more than are familiar to us in Europe. A main meal typically features soup, a meat or fish dish as the main course, and then tea or coffee to finish. Bolivia produces excellent wine and beer, and there are all kinds of local soft drinks for you to try as well. Otherwise, you can almost always get your hands on one of the big international cola brands. When you visit the highlands, you are almost certain to come across the drink called ‘mate de coca’. This is a kind of tea made from coca leaves, and it is said to help stave off the effects of altitude sickness.

17. Altitude sickness

It is difficult to predict who will suffer from altitude sickness. It is not a question of being in good physical shape or not – it can affect everyone. While it is possible to take some precautions against altitude sickness, there is no guarantee that they will have the desired effect. The best way to guard against it is to take the appropriate medicine (consult your GP or ask at your local pharmacy). Otherwise, we recommend that you drink plenty of fluid (water), avoid alcohol and eat only light meals. It is also important to take things easy for the first few days. If you take your time ascending to a higher altitude, your body has the chance to adapt to the thin air and this reduces the risk of altitude sickness.

The symptoms of altitude sickness are shortage of breath, dizziness, headache and vomiting. These symptoms will usually decrease or disappear after a day or two, once your body has acclimatised to the altitude and the thin air. Many hotels can provide oxygen if you need it.

18. Flight reservations and airline tickets

We will send you your flight reservation as soon as you book your trip. You can see times and routes on the itinerary. It is important to check your name for spelling mistakes. The name on the reservation must be exactly as in your passport.  If you have any comments on the itinerary or find mistakes in the names, please contact us immediately.

Today, there are only electronic airline tickets (e-tickets), so you do not receive a physical ticket for use at the airport check-in. When you check in at the airport, you use your passport and a booking reference. The booking reference is on your itinerary.

19. Service letter

Once you have purchased a tour through us, you will receive our service letter before your departure. The service letter contains important information about online check-in, what to do in the event of a delay, our agreed guidelines for tips, etc. In addition, you will find important telephone numbers for our local agents as well as our emergency telephone number.

So it is important that you print out the service letter and bring it with you.

20. Seat reservation, upgrades and extra legroom

We recommend that you make a seat reservation on the plane. Many airlines also offer to upgrade reserved tickets for seats with extra space and comfort, e.g. Economy Comfort at KLM and Premium Voyageur at Air France. You can do this through the airline’s website. Most airlines have a point in the menu called “manage my booking”. Please note that many airlines require payment for seat reservation, so you should have your credit/debit card to hand when you get started.

Unfortunately, rules differ as to when seat reservation is opened. We recommend that you try to make a seat reservation as early as possible and you will then know when you can make a seat reservation if it cannot be done right away. It is very common for seat reservation to be opened between 72 and 24 hours before departure.

21. Checked luggage and hand luggage

We work with many different airlines that fly to Bolivia, so there may be variations in the amount of luggage you are allowed to bring with you as both checked luggage and hand luggage. Check the information about this on your airline ticket, and contact us if you have any questions.

You and your travel companion should pack your luggage so that you can both make do with one item of luggage if the other is lost or delayed. While it is unlikely to happen, the problem may arise. If it does, it may take a few days before your luggage is delivered to the hotel where you are staying.

So make sure to carry all your important, indispensable items in your hand luggage: passport, visa, plane tickets, insurance papers, credit card(s), cash, prescriptions, information about any special medical conditions you may have along with essential medicine (insulin, etc.), allergy medicine, treatments for sudden stomach problems (such as Imodium) and painkillers (Panodil and/or Ipren, for example). In addition, it is best to carry your camera, mobile phone, tablet, etc. with you at all times.

You may find yourself sitting in a draught from the air conditioning in the plane, so make sure to pack a warm jumper or jacket in your hand luggage.

22. Transfers to and from airports

On arrival at the different airports in Bolivia, you will be met by our local representative who will be waiting for you in the arrival hall with a sign bearing your name. You will naturally also be driven to the airport on departure. You will be informed of your pick-up time when you arrive in Bolivia.