Practical information about Bolivia
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:
Weather statistics for Santa Cruz:
- International departure tax of USD 25, payable on departure from La Paz
- Local airport fees
- Meals except those specifically mentioned
- Cancellation and travel insurance
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.
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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you are travelling via the US, the following applies to British citizens:
To travel via the United States, you must apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). Without ESTA, you will not be allowed to travel through the United States. Apply for the travel authorization in good time at least 72 hours before your departure to the US. ESTA costs 14 USD per person and all travellers must apply, regardless of their age. You can apply via the following link: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/. You should have your passport, itinerary, credit card and e-mail address to hand when making your application. The travel authorization is electronically connected to your passport and is valid for 2 years or until your passport expires (whichever is earliest). We recommend that you bring a physical copy of your ESTA with you if, for example, the system is down on your arrival, however this is not a requirement.
If you get a new passport, you must apply for a new ESTA.
If you have you travelled in Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on 1 March 2011 or later, you must apply for a visa at the American Embassy. You cannot apply for ESTA. The same applies if you have dual nationality in Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria.
If you are travelling via Canada, the following applies to British citizens:
To travel via Canada, you must apply for an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization). Without eTA, you will not be allowed to travel through Canada. Apply for the travel authorization in good time. eTA costs 7 CAD per person and all travellers must apply, regardless of their age. You can apply via the following link: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta-start.asp. You should have your passport, itinerary, credit card and e-mail address to hand when making your application. The travel authorization is electronically connected to your passport and is valid for 5 years or until your passport expires (whichever is earliest). We recommend that you bring a physical copy of your eTA with you if, for example, the system is down on your arrival, however this is not a requirement.
If you get a new passport, you must apply for a new eTA.
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.
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.
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.
The Bolivian grid operates on 220 volts, although the mains electricity in La Paz is 110/120 volts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.