Before Going to Bolivia

Costs

Bolivia is one of the least expensive countries in South America, and considerably cheaper than neighbouring Chile, Brazil and Argentina. Imported goods are expensive, but food, accommodation and transport are all relatively cheap. Things are a bit more expensive in larger cities, especially Santa Cruz, and in isolated regions where goods have to be brought in over long distances. Goods and services aimed specifically at foreign tourists tend to be more expensive. Always agree a price in advance before accepting a service

Climate

The climate in Bolivia varies at every moment as a result of altitude and topography, especially in La Paz and other high altitude cities. The best season to visit the country is during dry season, which runs between May and October; though it’s also the high season for tourism. June and July are probably the coldest months, but the days are generally bright and sunny. The rainy season makes it difficult to navigate on the Amazon basin; some roads are also affected between November and March, but the rain also makes flowers proliferate, so it’s also a beautiful time to travel.

Entry requirements

Most visitors to Bolivia do not need a visa, although the situation does change periodically, so always check with your local embassy or consulate a few weeks before travelling. In 2007 the Bolivian government announced it was introducing a visa requirement for citizens of the United States, but at the time of writing, it was not clear how this was being implemented. We encourage you to check the entry requirements with your embassy.

Food and Drink

The style of eating and drinking varies considerably between Bolivia’s three main geographical regions: the Altiplano, the highland valleys and the tropical lowlands. These differences reflect both the different produce commonly available in each region and the different cultural traditions of their inhabitants. Though the differences are fading with the growth of migration and commerce, every region has comidas típicas (traditional dishes), which include some of the highlights of Bolivian cuisine.

Road Blockades

In recent years, road blockades have become a feature of Bolivian political life, particularly in the Altiplano, where radical Aymara peasants often block the roads within the country. Generally, this is an inconvenience that travellers have to put up with, and you should follow events in the media if you’re worried you may get cut off.

Festivities

Bolivians welcome any excuse for a party, and the country enjoys a huge number of national, regional and local parties. These are taken very seriously, often involving lengthy preparation and substantial expense,
while the largest feature thousands of costumed dancers, massed brass bands and plenty of food and drink – for poor Bolivians, fiestas are often the only time they can eat and drink to their hearts’ content. You should definitely try to catch a fiesta at some point during your visit, as they are amongst the most vibrant and colourful spectacles Bolivia has to offer, and at the heart of the country’s culture.