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Here you can find all the information you should need as a helpful travel guide for Bolivia, including information on weather, visas, what to pack etc. If you need any further help or advice on anything about travel in Bolivia please just let us know.

Bolivia can be a wonderful country to visit all year round, but the changes in climate throughout the year can change the experiences and tours you may be able to go on, particularly in the Salar de Uyuni region, so when deciding on what time of year to visit Bolivia the most important factor to consider is the climate in the destinations you are visiting.

In the Andes region the more popular tourist destinations include the Salar de Uyuni, La Paz, Tihuanaco and Lake Titicaca. Here the climate is split into two main seasons: the dry season, and the rainy season. The dry season runs roughly from May to October when the days are mild and the chance of rain relatively small. The rainy season runs from November through to April. In summary if you want to avoid the rain then the dry season is the best option. If you are visiting the Salar de Uyuni choosing which time of year to travel is very important - it is possible to visit all year, but the experiences and excursions change depending on the climate at that time of year. During the rainy season the surface of the Salar de Uyuni is covered with water creating beautiful reflections and this is a very popular time of year for people interested in photography, however due to the water on the Salar it can be difficult or impossible to drive across the salt flat which may mean it is not possible to visit Isla Incahuasi in the middle of the Salar and some of the other sights situated on the flats such as the centrally located salt-hotels. During the dry season the surface of the Salar de Uyuni hardens into a crust meaning it is possible to drive right across to visit Isla Incahuasi, although the famous "reflection" photos will not be possible during this time.

See our weather charts for weather in some of the more popular destinations in Bolivia to help give you an idea of what weather to expect during your holiday:

la paz weather chartWeather in La Paz:

La Paz is famous for being the capital city with the highest altitude in the world, over 3600 metres.

The altitude means that days are very sunny but mild in temperature, whilst nights can be bitterly cold (often below freezing).

April to September is the dry season, and October to late March is the wet season.

 

uyuni weather chartWeather in Salar de Uyuni:

Despite being the largest salt flat in the world and close to the Atacama Desert (the driest desert in the world), Uyuni has two distinct seasons - the wet season, from November to March, and the dry season, from May to October.

Daytime temperatures are mild year-round, and evenings can be very cold (below freezing) due to the altitude.

The "Boliviano" is the national currency of Bolivia, with one Boliviano divided into 100 centavos. The currency is available in notes with denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Bolivianos, and in coins with denominations of 10, 20 and 50 centavos, and 1, 2 and 5 Bolivianos.

Most restaurants, hotels and other businesses will accept payment by Visa, Mastercard and American Express, although check before you make your purchase. Inform your bank of the dates and destinations of your trip prior to travel. We recommend you save a copy of your credit card details and the international contact number to telephone in case your card is lost, stolen or damaged during your trip.

ATM machines normally dispense both Bolivianos and US dollars. In major cities such as La Paz ATM machines are widely available, however in smaller cities or in rural areas ATM's can be incredibly difficult to find and many towns may not have ATM's at all.

Small change can often be limited in some regions of Bolivia, and you should be aware of this when travelling. This can mean that in some locations, particularly the more rural locations, it may be difficult to pay for items with larger denominations of notes.

We highly recommend you visit a medical professional before your holiday and inform them of exactly when and where you will be travelling to make sure you are given the correct immunisations and / or medication for your trip.

It is also important you carry with you any of your own medication you may require during your trip, and it is recommended you also carry some form of suitable medication to ease headaches and upset stomachs.

Be aware that much of Bolivia is at high altitude (Bolivia is one of the highest countries in the world) and this includes the popular tourist regions of the Salar de Uyuni, Lake Titicaca, La Paz and Potosi. To reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness and to help you acclimatise as quickly as possible stay hydrated by drinking water, avoid alcohol at least for the first few days at altitude and try to avoid energetic activities. Although hundreds of thousands of people travel to Bolivia each year without issue altitude sickness is still something that should be taken seriously. If you are concerned about this we advise that you speak to your doctor prior to travelling and if you have particular concerns, although not normally required as we have designed our holidays within this in mind already, we can include additional acclimatisation days at lower altitude destinations for you.

Be aware that parts of Bolivia, particularly the north west of the country in the Amazon regions, are malaria risk areas and therefore anti-malarial tablets are often recommended by medical health professionals. Seek advice from your local GP or travel health clinic.

The Zika virus has been reported in countries across South America, and if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant we advise that you speak to your local GP and / or travel health clinic and seek professional medical advise before travelling.

The NHS travel website has further useful and helpful information: www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.

We are not medical professionals and medication should only be taken following professional medical advice.

Spanish is the most popular language in Bolivia, spoken by over 80% of the population. All tours and excursions will be in English, so although it isn't a requirement that you speak Spanish it is always a good idea to learn a few basic words before your trip to maximise your enjoyment and to help immerse you in your Bolivian experience during any free time, and for when you get to meet the local and very friendly Bolivian people.

Aymara, spoken in the Lake Titicaca region, and Quechua, spoken in the highlands regions, are "traditional" languages spoken reasonably abundantly in Bolivia, although the country also has many other languages and dialects within its borders.

In total Bolivia has 36 official languages which reflects its cultural diversity and heritage: Araona, Aymara, Baure, Besiro, Canichana, Castellano (Spanish), Cavineno, Cayuvava, Chacobo, Chiman, Ese Ejja, Guarani, Guarasuawe, Guarayu, Itonama, Leco, Machajuyai-Kallawaya, Machineri, Maropa, Mojeno-Ignaciano, Mojeno-Trinitario, More, Moseten, Movima, Pacawara, Puquina, Quechua, Siriono, Tacana, Tapiete, Toromona, Uru-Chipaya, Weenhayek, Yaminawa, Yuki, Yuracare, and Zamuco.

Despite having so many official languages, most of these are traditional indigenous languages, and Spanish is by far the most widely spoken. English is relatively widely spoken, although in some smaller restaurants and more rural areas it is not.

At the time of writing UK nationals with a British passport do not need to apply for a visa in advance of travel to Bolivia as tourist visas are issued upon arrival, however it is advisable to always check the current situation prior to travel. Some nationalities will be required to apply for a visa in advance of travel and we recommend you check with your local embassy before travelling.

Upon entry to Bolivia you will complete an Andean Immigration Card which will be stamped and returned to you, it is important you keep this document with your passport at all times as you will need to return it when you exit Bolivia. If you have lost this document you may be required to pay a fine.

Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after the completion date of your trip. We also recommend you take a photocopy of the photo page of your passport.

Please note that in some instances will make certain reservations for your holiday linked to your passport details so it is important you do not renew your passport or any details on your passport (including your name) after booking but prior to travelling. If you have any questions regarding this please just get in touch.

For all nationalities, including if you are travelling on a British passport, it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation to ensure you can enter Bolivia and all other countries included in your holiday.

Avoid drinking any tap water in Bolivia, as water treatment standards are not sufficient to make the water potable. Avoid asking for ice in any cold drinks ordered in restaurants or bars, unless you are certain these have been prepared usintg bottled or sterilised water. We are supporters of Travelers Against Plastic and encourage the use of re-usable water bottles to reduce or eliminate the impact of plastic bottle waste across the planet.

Bolivia's cuisine is as varied as its geography and varies from region to region. In the popular Andes regions stews, warming soups and roasted meats are more popular; whereas in the lowland Amazon region the cuisine is similar to the Amazon regions of Peru and Brazil with fruits and river fish on the menu. Although Bolivia isn’t a destination associated with fine cuisine there are some tasty local dishes to try to immerse yourself in the tastes and flavours of Bolivia on your holiday. Salteñas are a popular street food and are like mini pasties crammed full of beef or chicken while the ubiquitous Pique Macho is popular with travellers and is a stir-fry style dish containing beef, tomatoes, onion, sliced hotdog, egg and potato fries.

Vegetarian food is not as advanced in South America as it is in Europe or North America, and it is fair to say that the cuisine of Bolivia is one of the least developed of South America which can mean that vegetarian options are limited. Most restaurants will have have only one or two vegetarian options usually consisting of vegetable soups and salads.

Never travel without suitable travel insurance. Suitable and appropriate travel insurance is a requirement of our Booking Terms and Conditions and it is your responsibility to ensure you have travel insurance applicable to your personal circumstances and holiday. Advise your insurance company of any pre-existing medical conditions and ensure you are covered for all activities included within your trip.

We recommend you take a copy of you insurance policy and a copy of your policy and terms and conditions with you on your holiday.

We are able to provide the contact details of a Travel Insurance company if required.

The main things to bring on your holiday are your passport (we also recommend you take a email yourself a scan of the relevant pages), money, suitable luggage including a day-sack, your camera and memory cards, and your flight e-tickets.

Bolivia's varied geography means you need to be prepared for a variety of weather and temperatures. In the highland regions, such as La Paz and Salar de Uyuni, due to the altitude the days can bring very harsh sunlight and sun hat, sun glasses, long-sleeved clothing and sun cream are a must. However equally the altitude also means the nights can be bitterly cold, dropping below freezing in certain places, so thick warm clothing including a hat and gloves are required. If you are travelling during the rainy / wet season be sure to pack waterproof clothing and a rain poncho.

Other items we recommend you pack include a suitable personal first aid kit, binoculars, a torch with batteries, an electricity adaptor (a typical international plug converter is usually suitable), toilet paper (carry a small amount with you at all times on your trip as some restaurants and cafes in South America don't always provide toilet paper), a travel guide book, strong sun lotion (the sun can be very harsh particularly in the highland regions), sun hat and sun glasses, insect repellent, plastic bags (to keep things dry), earplugs, strong insect repellent, a lightweight towel, toiletries, and an alarm clock.

When you book we provide you with a full packing list in our Welcome Pack.

South America is a relatively safe continent and the vast majority of people that visit South America travel without problems. However South America does have lower standards of health and safety than some countries and it is a poorer continent than some parts in the world and opportunistic crime can occur, so an element of common sense is required to reduce the chances of you having a problem. Always stay within tourist areas and try not to stroll along quiet streets or away from the tourist areas of towns, particularly at night. Also avoid carrying large amounts of money with you, only carry what you need for that particular day, and ensure money and other valuables is left in the safety deposit boxes in your hotel. Keep the personal possessions that you have with you during the day, such as your bag or camera, on your person at all times and avoid leaving them on seats or under tables at restaurants.

Although tipping is entirely discretionary for tourists tipping a small amount (5-10% of the bill at the very most) is quite common in restaurants, and some moderate and high-end restaurants might include a service charge on your bill (so check before tipping).

Tipping tour guides is common right across South America, although it is optional and you should never feel obliged to tip. Only consider tipping if you feel your guide was good at their job, spoke clearly with good English, was engaging and passionate about the destinations you visited etc. For a typical half-day tour a tip of the equivalent of around £2.00 per person is a good starting point. It is common to tip the guide and driver at the end of the Salar de Uyuni 4x4 excursion so a amount of the equivalent of £2-£3 per day (our Salar de Uyuni excursions are usually either 3 days or 4 days) is our recommended amount.

Tipping is optional so you should never feel obliged to tip.

In our holidays all excursions, accommodation, transfers and domestic travel including flights are all included, so really the only additional costs you will incur when in Bolivia will be for things like any drinks or meals that are not included, tips, and other costs such as souvenirs.

Travelling in Bolivia is relatively cost-effective and good value compared to other countries in South America, with basic costs for things like food lower than places like Peru and elsewhere. We include breakfast for you every day, and some excursions (such as the 4x4 Salar de Uyuni tours) also include other meals as some of the destinations we visit are so rural we include food for you, so check your itinerary to see what meals are / are not included. Food in restaurants is generally quite cheap in Bolivia, particularly in built-up areas such as La Paz, and as a guide a meal in a moderate restaurant for lunch or dinner will cost the equivalent of around £3-£7 per person.

Unfortunately not all airlines operate the same luggage requirement standards, so it is difficult for us to specifically advise what the luggage allowance will be for your holiday.

Typical luggage allowance for international flights is 20kg or 23kg depending on your airline, and this can be confirmed by checking the relevant airlines website. Please bear in mind that your holiday may involve a number of flights with a number of airlines, including domestic flights within South America (which can have lighter luggage restrictions, as low as 15kg for check-in luggage), so it is important you comply with the airline that has the lightest requirements to avoid issues. Your airline will be listed on your booking confirmation documentation, and if you need assistance with this please let us know.


The information on this page is intended as a helpful travel guide only. If you have any further questions regarding Bolivia please contact us - we are always more than willing to help.