Bold and brash, Bolivia lifts travellers to its dizzying heights with stunning scenery, legendary landmarks and a rich, indigenous heritage. Bolivia is an energetic, enigmatic piece of South American sorcery – alive with passion, awash with colour, connected to the past but living very much in the present. Leave Bolivia off your travel list at your own peril.
Bolivia Tours & Travel
All our Bolivia trips
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Articles on Bolivia
Got the food blues in Bolivia
Posted on Tue, 16 Oct 2012 by Sue Elliot
Jacqueline Donaldson discovered a drink made from corn that's a curious colour but a great local treat...Read more
bolivia top 5
Posted on Mon, 18 Jul 2011 by Sue Elliot
"Besides the dust and the bouts of altitude sickness, I have been lucky to have some great experiences and see some amazing landscapes..."Read more
At a glance
- Trips Available:
- Capital city:
- Sucre (constitutional, population 225,000); La Paz (administrative, population 880,000)
- 9.9 million
- Quechua, Spanish, Aymara
- Time zone:
- (GMT-04:00) La Paz
- Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type C (European 2-pin)
- Dialing code:
Best time to visit Bolivia
May to October (winter) is generally considered to be the best time to visit Bolivia, as days are usually dry and clear. Summer (November to April) is the rainy season, and during this time it can get hot and humid. The peak tourist season runs from late June to early September. This season holds the best weather for travel, but is Bolivia's main fiesta season and holiday period, so some disruptions can be expected at times.
Geography and environment
Top 10 Bizarre Bits of Bolivia
1. Giant Frogs
No, Lake Titicaca’s high altitude isn’t causing you to hallucinate – you may have just caught a glimpse of the world’s largest aquatic frog. Measuring in at up to 50 centimetres long (the size of an adult foot!), the extremely rare Titicaca Water Frog can weigh up to 3 kilograms.
2. Lost City of Titicaca
So you weren’t hallucinating when you thought you saw a giant frog, but surely there's nothing else hiding beneath Titicaca’s surface? Wrong again. In 1988, taking hints from a local legend, divers descended to Titicaca’s murky depths and discovered a real-life lost city. The temple complex, believed to be pre-Inca, is said to be over 1,500 years old.
3. El Tio and the Potosi Mines
A sombre experience at the best of times, the plight of the Potosi miners is one of Bolivia’s more tragic tales. In many ways emblematic of this are the ghastly effigies of El Tio, the guardian of the mines and the god of the underworld. Workers offer cigarettes and coca leaves in the hope that they will receive good fortune, paying their respects to this terrifying spirit on each descent into the darkness of the mines.
4. Macho Valley
Not known for their subtlety, Bolivians have named this valley ‘Macho’ for a reason. Meaning ‘male’ in Spanish, this collection of phallic shaped rock formations is a sight for sore eyes.
5. Bolivian Bus-Train
Looking for a cheaper way to travel from Sucre to Potosi? Look no further than the Bolivian bus-train, a transport innovation like no other. Faced with the dilemma of having a complete railway but no train, locals simply converted a bus, swapping its tires for tracks. The result? A scenic and thrilling way to ascend this 4,000 metre climb - all for the very fair price of $3.50!
6. The ‘Death Road’
If the Bolivian bus-train doesn’t get your blood pumping, the harrowing ‘Death Road’ may literally send you over the edge. Snaking its way across the Yungas toward the Amazon rainforest, this road is among the world's most dangerous. But try telling that to the locals, who insist on driving massive trucks and buses at brisk speeds along its narrow, twisting path – at least affording their terrified passengers the views of a lifetime.
7. Women’s Wrestling
Bolivia’s newest sporting phenomenon comes in the form of feisty 'cholitas' (women). These ladies compete in professional wrestling bouts around the country, much to delight of their adoring fans. Part circus, part sport, all female - these unique sportswomen are undoubtedly some of wrestling’s fiercest competitors.
8. Witches’ Market
Creepy masks and odd trinkets sold by astrologists and sorcerers - Bolivia’s famous Witches’ Market never fails to leave a lasting impression. See real-life witches selling potions, casting spells and stirring cauldrons - this madhouse market is full of wacky characters and strange souvenirs.
9. Salt Hotel
Apart from being one of Bolivia’s most famous attractions, the Salar de Uyuni salt plain offers one of the quirkiest accommodation options on the market. For 30 dollars a night, visitors to the world’s largest salt flat can stay in a hotel made entirely from salt. That’s right, salt floors, a salt roof, a salt bar and even a salt dining table. One things for sure, you won’t be asking anyone to “pass the salt” in this zany hotel.
10. The Dinosaur Wall
Discovered by Bolivian construction workers in 1994, Cal Orko (or the Dinosaur Wall) is a prehistoric oddity of epic proportions. Found on the banks of a cement quarry, this collection of over 5,000 tracks from 330 different species of dinosaurs is a rarity in the world of palaeontology. Over 68 million years old, it's thought that this quarry was previously a gigantic lake, its steep slopes once traversed by gravity-defying dinosaurs keen for a drink. Nowadays, this precious landmark is beginning to crumble - resulting in conservation efforts from the Bolivian government.
FAQs on Bolivia
Cup of coffee in a cafe = 10 BOB
Bottle or can of beer = 10 BOB
Simple lunch = 20-25 BOB
Dinner in a restaurant = 80 BOB
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Feb 11 Carnival
Mar 29 Good Friday
May 1 Labour Day
May 30 Corpus Christi
Aug 6 Independence Day
Nov 1 All Saints' Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/bolivia/public-holidays
Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Not required
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
United States: Yes - in advance
Please note: if you are required to apply for a visa to enter Bolivia, you will need the following to support it:
- a copy of the Intrepid voucher that you receive after purchasing your trip
- a copy of the Itinerary which you can obtain from the Trip Notes for your specific trip on our website. BOLIVIEN TOURISTENVISUM:
Australien: Nicht erforderlich
Belgien: Nicht erforderlich
Kanada: Nicht erforderlich
Deutschland: Nicht erforderlich
Irland: Nicht erforderlich
Niederlande: Nicht erforderlich
Neuseeland: Nicht erforderlich
Südafrika: Nicht erforderlich
Schweiz: Nicht erforderlich
Großbritannien: Nicht erforderlich
USA: Nicht erforderlich
BEACHTEN: Sollten Sie ein Visum für Bolivien beantragen müssen, werden folgende Unterlagen benötigt:
- eine Kopie des Intrepid Buchungsbeleges, den Sie nach Kauf der Reise erhalten
- eine Kopie des Reiseverlaufes, den Sie auf unserer Website in den Trip Notes der jeweiligen Reise erhalten.
Health and Safety
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
Bolivia Travel Tips
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for Bolivia
1. Be considerate of Bolivia’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.
3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
4. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
5. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
6. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
7. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
8. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
9. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
|Whispering in the Giant's Ear||William Powers|
|The Pearl||John Steinbeck|
|Devil in the Mountain: A Search for the Origin of the Andes||Simon Lamb|
|American Visa||Juan de Recacoechea|
|1491||Charles C. Mann|