Bolivian FAQ's

Travel

Flights - local destinations

Flights to Bolivia arrive at either Viru Viru international Airport, Santa Cruz de la Sierra which if you are looking to explore the lowlands is a great location to start from.

La Paz is the other international destination and ideal for exploring the highlands and the Andes.

Visa requirements
Generally tourists from Europe and the Americas can enter Bolivia for up to 3 months without a special visa. Plus you will need a yellow fever vaccination certificate and a minimum of 6 months on your passport.
Travel charges
Travel between departments and municipalities are subject to police stops and charges. These are mandatory and generally all you have to do is show your passport and pay to cross between zones. The price for this is about 6 Bolivianos (very cheap) and you can pay for the whole journey including future check points all at once. Just keep your paper receipt and show it at each stop.
Driving license
International driving licences are accepted here in most cases for short stays and transiting the country.
Travel Seasons

You can travel in Bolivia most of the year round. January to March is the rainy season and can limit travel with flooding in the lowlands and provide landslides in the highlands. April to July are cooler as it is winter here and in the Amazon the temperatures are a lot easier, especially for walking.

Travel light

Too many travellers pack far too much kit and end up carrying things that don’t matter or can be shared with your travel partner. Clothes can be washed and generally will dry within a couple of hours.

Tarpaulins and hammocks with mosquito nets are the best option for the Amazon as this gets you off the floor where it will be damp and full of insects. These tend to weigh about the same as a small tent but have the advantage of not needing an air bed and you don’t have to pack poles.

In the mountains a tent is better as it is warmer and there will be few no trees above 14,000 ft anyway. Plastic tent pegs whilst not as strong can be taken through airport security and might be better than metal pegs if only travelling with a cabin bag.

Sleeping bags

Sleeping bags are not necessary in the Amazon, but a sleeping bag liner with a bivy bag works well for a colder night which can happen when the rain is falling and the wind gets up. In the mountains a down sleeping bag will be warmest, but you can get away with a winter bag and use lots of layers.

Kit bag

My kit bag generally includes:

  • Light weight rain coat
  • Bivy survival bag
  • First aid kit
  • Wash kit
  • Utility knife
  • Life saver drinking bottle with filter
  • Flip flops
  • 2 x t-Shirts
  • 1 x long sleeve shirt
  • 2 x shorts
  • 1 x long trousers
  • 1 x pair of socks
  • 3 x underwear
  • Woollen hat
  • Sun cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • GPS
  • Food and water bottle
  • Camping stove and fire starter kit
  • Tarpaulin hammock with mosquito net
  • 30 m of para cord
  • Solar charger
  • Phone
  • 4 x plastic bags
  • Compass

Total weight 15 – 20 kgs

Food &
Drink

General food advice

Generally food in Bolivia is delicious and very flavoursome

Food prices

A simple meal of soup and a main course of meat with rice, plus a drink will set you back about £2 / $3 in most out of town restaurants.

Vegetarian advice

It is harder to find good food as a vegan or vegetarian as Bolivians eat a lot of chicken and meat as part of their standard diet, but it is possible. Fruit and vegetables are readily available in the local markets, which provides a positive and inexpensive option.

Water safety

Water can be drunk directly from a tap in Santa Cruz only, but not in most other places. It is safer to stick to bottled water whenever you can. We will ensure that we carry plenty of bottled water on all trips.

Health &
Safety

Malaria
It is definitely advised and recommended to bring malaria tablets and read the product information before you depart to Bolivia. Also it is a requirement to have a yellow fever vaccination certificate (although there are not many cases of malaria reported, it is still the requirement and a good idea anyway).
A mosquito net is a good idea as is insect repellent but it doesn’t work on many insects and so long sleeves and long trousers are still your best protection. Malaria and dengue are thought to be spread by day biting aedes albopictus and aedes aegypti mosquito and not the night time biters.
If you are planning a family be aware that there is zika in northern Bolivia and you should get checked out on your return or delay your travel. Zika whilst pregnant is harmful to the health of the baby.
First aid kit

Recommended contents for your first aid kit include:

  • 4/0 nylon suture
  • Bandages, plasters and gauze
  • Anti-malaria tablets
  • Headache tablets
  • Anti-inflammatory tablets
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Rehydration tablets and imodium
  • Anti-histamine cream or tablets
  • Antacid tablets (lots)
  • Cough sweets
  • Sun block – Factor 30+
  • Scissors and tweezers
  • Dry eye lubricating drops
  • Mosquito repellent with deet 50% (You can get 100% deet but it will damage any plastic or painted items that it comes in contact with such as your GPS, watches, torches, sunglasses etc)
Acclimatisation

Acclimatisation is important. It can be a few days for you to feel comfortable at altitude. Don’t rush or try and do too much whilst your body is trying to cope with the lack of oxygen.

Everyone is different and you may experience different responses at different times. Generally the advice is to take it slow until you feel stronger take lots of water and you can try paracetamol if your head hurts. If you are really struggling, dropping down to a lower height is the best advice. Even 100 ft will make a difference.

Fires

I like to leave a campsite without anyone knowing I was ever there.

Therefore it is important that we don’t do any damage to the beauty of the surroundings with our fire.

  • Think carefully where you start your fire
  • Clear the ground and make sure the fire can’t spread or get out for hand

I tend to dig a pit for my fires and put rocks around as this helps with cooking and drying clothes. Generally a cigarette lighter will get you started and they are lightweight and easy to carry. Fire sticks are ok, but heavier.

In wet conditions a very small strip of bicycle inner-tube will burn even when wet. Cotton wool in Vaseline will also burn in wet conditions and can be helpful to get your fire started. When I leave the camp I clear away and remove all signs of the fire or bury the ashes.

Leave no sign!

Andean Medical Mission
vAMMos supports the work of the Andean Medical Mission (AMM) in their efforts to eliminate avoidable blindness in Northern Bolivia. The amazing AMM surgeons travel every year to remote villages where they carry out sight saving operations free of charge for the many blind people living in the Amazon. Speak to us about fundraising for AMM.