Did you know?
- 40% of the planet’s animal and plant life can be found in Bolivia
- Bolivia has over 30 official languages
- Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake, is located within the two countries of Bolivia & Peru
- Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat on Earth, and when it rains the thin film of water creates the world’s largest mirror. Understandably, this is one of Bolivia’s most popular tourist destinations
- The name Bolivia comes from the political leader Simon Bolivar, who brought independence to a number of Latin American countries from Spanish rule, in 1825. He was also the country’s first official president
- The hands of the clock on Bolivia’s House of Congress building in La Paz, run backwards, symbolising the Southern Hemisphere. The ‘Clock of the South’ is actually a mirror image of a traditional clock.
- Guinea Pig (cuy) are still part of the Bolivian diet, particularly in the Andes highlands, considering their small size makes them an ideal choice over typical livestock
Visas & Passports
Australian passport holders travelling to Bolivia do not need a visa at this time.
We require that your passport is valid for travel for at least six months from the date you are planning to return to Australia. Your passport must be valid to travel internationally and must be machine-readable. You also need to carry a valid return ticket on you.
Whether travelling on an Australian passport or the passport of another country, all travellers require visas for a number of countries, and it is your responsibility to secure what may be required before departing Australia. You can consult with your travel agent, but it is also recommended that you check the foreign embassy website for your respective destination as it can also provide you with useful information.
The Australian Embassy in Peru is responsible for Bolivia:
Avenida La Paz 1049, 10th Floor
Miraflores, Lima, 18
Ph. +51 1 630 0500
Fax. +51 1 630 0520
Australian Honorary Consulate in Bolivia:
Gabriel Rene Moreno #1091
Ph: +591 767 68787
The official currency of Bolivia is the Bolivian Boliviano (BOB). Notes come in denominations of Bs. 200, Bs. 100, Bs. 50, Bs. 20, Bs. 10.
The recommended currency to take to Bolivia is the US Dollar, as their local currencies are not available outside of the region. Ensure you request smaller clean notes as many places will not exchange large denominations or notes that are torn and dirty. Once there, you can exchange your US Dollar for the BOB. Ensure you change a small amount into small denominations.
Advise your bank of your travel plans so that they can make a note of it, otherwise they may cancel your credit card as a safety measure due to the overseas transactions. Also make a note of the 24-hour emergency contact number of the bank or building society which issued your credit card in the unlikely event that your card is lost or stolen.
Whenever possible use ATMs when the banks are open (Mon – Fri) so that if a machine ‘eats’ your card you can then deal with it straight away. It is always advisable to carry a supply of cash in addition to your credit card.
If you don’t have US Dollars with you on arrival, we advise you to exchange some money into the local currency at the airport even if the exchange rate is not the best, this way you’ll have money to get a drink, snack or give a tip during those first few hours of arrival. Your guide will be able to advise you on the best places to exchange money.
Small change is also useful for paying for toilets while on tour which is customary in many places outside of Australia.
- The price of a cappuccino in Sucre is approximately USD2.50
- The price of an inexpensive lunch is approximately USD3
- The price of dinner in a moderate restaurant is approximately USD5
- The price of a beer in a local pub is approximately USD2
Influenced by the Spanish and mixed with the ancient Andean culture, corn, potatoes, quinoa and beans form the staple of most meals, with the addition of meats, including beef, pork and chicken along with rice and wheat. Traditional dishes include papas rellenas, or stuffed potatoes, filled with boiled egg or cheese and coated in a spicy flour batter before being deep-fried. If that doesn’t sound delicious enough, try buñuelos, similar to a Spanish churro, the fried dough fritter is a tasty snack enjoyed anytime, but traditionally at Christmas, topped with syrup and dipped in chocolate. Be sure to taste the salteñas, typically a breakfast meal consisting of oven-baked pastry filled with potatoes, carrots, peas and meat encased in a rich sweet and spicy gravy. For those with an adventurous spirit, Anticucho is a popular evening snack consisting of flame-grilled cow heart. Enjoy this surprisingly tasty meat with a side of potatoes, usually cooked on a small portable grill known as a cholita.
Important: When dining at buffets (i.e. breakfast) please refrain from taking food away with you to ‘save’ for later! If you feel that you’ll need snacks between meals, pack some dried fruit, nuts, muesli bars etc.
If you have specific food allergies and/or preferences, we highly recommend you take every precaution before your tour, including carrying a small card with your food allergy listed in each language of every country you are travelling to show to table staff when ordering. Whilst we take all dietary requirements seriously, due to the serious nature of potential allergic reactions, it is your responsibility to be as prepared as possible.
Bolivia has two distinct seasons. During May to October the winter, dry season, will bring mostly sunny days but colder nights particularly in the highlands during June and July. You’ll find it less humid in the lowlands but rain is a possibility any time of the year. The summer, rainy season is usually between November and March with warm, humid days. Head to the highlands during this time for more pleasant evenings, as heavy rains are typical in the lowlands with higher humidity. With a landscape consisting of varying altitudes, expect distinct changes in weather depending on your location.
Want to get out and explore on your own?
A common way to get around Bolivia is by small bus, as a cheap option and usually quicker than the trains. The buses are often cheap but not very comfortable and be sure to pack an adventurous spirit and your valuables close by. Trains and boats are much less reliable so expect delays. In recent years the government has invested in improving the roads, but air remains the quickest, most reliable and typically inexpensive option between cities. Anyone in Bolivia can put a ‘taxi’ sign on their dashboard, so stick to the private taxis that you need to call and book in.
When catching taxis, have small change on you and choose one with a meter, if it doesn’t have one then negotiate the price before getting in. Also, ask your guide or hotel staff the names of reputable taxi companies.
So, you’d love to bring home a special souvenir from Bolivia...
Popular and traditional products to buy in Bolivia is the stone carved talisman. These can depict anything from totems to animal figures, as well as strange faces of ancestral gods. Bolivian talismans are the perfect souvenir of Bolivia to bring good luck to your friends and family. Traditional Bolivian ponchos are perfect for keeping you warm in cold places, such as the Andes. Most of these are made from alpaca wool, which is the native animal of this country. Other great souvenirs to bring home from Bolivia include, Bowler hats, Leather Goods, salt crafts, and ceramics.
- The customary greeting is a handshake. Shake hands when meeting and departing.
- Bolivians stand very close when conversing.
- Make an effort to use Spanish in conversation. It will be appreciated
- The “so-so” gesture (rocking your palm-down open hand from side to side) means “no” in Bolivia.
- You will be viewed as untrustworthy if you do not maintain direct eye contact.
- Never take your shoes off at anyone’s home unless they invite you to do so
- Bolivians also touch and gesture much more than in other countries. While they’re talking to you they may pat you on the back, touch your arm, or lean toward you.
Celebrations & Public Holidays
Bolivia is a country filled with endless traditional festivals that every visitor should experience it. One week before Carnival, on the 24th of January, the Alasitas Fair, or Feria de Alasitas, takes place in La Paz, Bolivia. Bolivians from all over the country buy miniature items to offer to Ekeko, the Aymaran God of abundance, hoping he will bring good fortune and wealth into their lives. Easter, or Semana Santa in Spanish, is celebrated throughout the whole continent in the catholic religion and of course in Bolivia with processions similar as the rest of the Andes region.
Travelers will find lively celebrations featuring food, music, dances, parades and religious ceremonies.
Between the months of May and June, the city of La Paz comes to a pause to celebrate one of Bolivia’s most important and unique festivals with more than 25.000 local participants.
The religious festivities pay tribute to El Señor de Gran Poder or Jesus Christ. The parade features thousands of dancers straggling the streets of La Paz with colorful costumes while the masses of spectator’s cheer in joy.
Other national public holidays to be aware of include:
- Año Nuevo (New Year’s Day) January 1
- Día del Estado Plurinacional (Celebrates new constitution) January 22
- Carnaval February/March
- Semana Santa (Good Friday) March/April
- Día del Trabajo (Labor Day) May 1
- Corpus Christi May/June
- Año Nuevo Andino Amazónico y del Chaco (Andean New Year) June 21
- Día de la Independencia (Independence Day) August 6
- Día de los Muertos (All Souls’ Day) November 2
- Navidad (Christmas) December 25
La Paz, which lies between 3,250 and 4,100 metres above sea level, is the world’s highest national capital. The centre of the city lies in a deep, broad canyon formed by the La Paz, or Choqueyapu, River. La Paz is a great hub to explore Bolivia. Strategically located between the Amazon and the Andes, many find themselves passing through again and again. Travelers can use La Paz’ convenient location as a base to discover further afield. Prices have risen sharply over the years, yet La Paz remains one of the best value capitals on the continent. Accommodation, food, and alcohol can all be purchased for a fraction of what they cost elsewhere.
Santa Cruz, in full Santa Cruz de la Sierra, city, east-central Bolivia. It is situated in the hot, tropical lowlands at an elevation of 416 metres above sea level. is the largest city in Bolivia. It’s known as the economic hub of the country and the city barley resembles other Bolivian cities such as Sucre or La Paz. Santa Cruz borders the Amazon Rainforest and the city’s surroundings are lush and green. This change in scenery makes Santa Cruz a great place to visit in Bolivia for those wanting to experience Bolivia’s biodiversity. But arguably the biggest difference in Santa Cruz is the culture. This brings new foods and experiences.
Sucre is renowned for being one of South America's most impressive colonial cities. Many of the buildings in the centre of this wonderfully preserved white-washed town date back to the 16th century.
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