Traveling Luck for Bolivia

Bolivia is located in Central South America, southwest of Brazil.

Bolivia has borders with Argentina for 832km, Brazil for 3400km, Chile for 861km, Peru for 900km and Paraguay for 750km.

Land in Bolivia is rugged Andes Mountains with a highland plateau (Altiplano), hills, lowland plains of the Amazon Basin.

Bolivian land covers an area of 1098580 square kilometers which is slightly less than three times the size of Montana

As for the Bolivian climate; varies with altitude; humid and tropical to cold and semiarid.

Bolivian(s) speak Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymara (official).

Bolivian National Map

Bolivian Map

Regions of Bolivia

Bolivia, named after independence fighter Simon BOLIVAR, broke away from Spanish rule in 1825; much of its subsequent history has consisted of a series of nearly 200 coups and countercoups. Comparatively democratic civilian rule was established in 1982, but leaders have faced difficult problems of deep-seated poverty, social unrest, and illegal drug production. In December 2005, Bolivians elected Movement Toward Socialism leader Evo MORALES president - by the widest margin of any leader since the restoration of civilian rule in 1982 - after he ran on a promise to change the country's traditional political class and empower the nation's poor majority.


Bolivia Country Profile

Bolivia, long one of the poorest and least developed Latin American countries, reformed its economy after suffering a disastrous economic crisis in the early 1980s. The reforms spurred real GDP growth, which averaged 4% in the 1990s, and poverty rates fell. Economic growth, however, lagged again beginning in 1999 because of a global slowdown and homegrown factors such as political turmoil, civil unrest, and soaring fiscal deficits, all of which hurt investor confidence. In 2003, violent protests against the pro-foreign investment economic policies of President SANCHEZ DE LOZADA led to his resignation and the cancellation of plans to export Bolivia's newly discovered natural gas reserves to large northern hemisphere markets. In 2005, the government passed a controversial natural gas law that imposes on the oil and gas firms significantly higher taxes as well as new contracts that give the state control of their operations. Bolivian officials are in the process of implementing the law; meanwhile, foreign investors have stopped investing and have taken the first legal steps to secure their investments. Real GDP growth in 2003-05 - helped by increased demand for natural gas in neighboring Brazil - was positive, but still below the levels seen during the 1990s. Bolivia's fiscal position has improved in recent years, but the country remains dependent on foreign aid from multilateral lenders and foreign governments to meet budget shortfalls. In 2005, the G8 announced a $2 billion debt-forgiveness plan over the next few decades that should help reduce some fiscal pressures on the government in the near term.

Bolivian natural resources include tin, natural gas, petroleum, zinc, tungsten, antimony, silver, iron, lead, gold, timber, hydropower

landlocked; shares control of Lago Titicaca, world's highest navigable lake (elevation 3,805 m), with Peru

Bolivian religion is Roman Catholic 95%, Protestant (Evangelical Methodist) 5%.

Natural hazards in Bolivia include flooding in the northeast (March-April).

Travel Advice on Bolivia

Bolivia

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Summary, Local Travel and Health sections.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • The threat from terrorism is low.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

  • In early January 2007, Bolivia experienced a period of civil unrest in some of the major cities. There is continual risk of public protests and strikes throughout Bolivia.  The tension has now decreased considerably, but you should continue to exercise caution.  See the Local Travel section of this Travel Advice for more details.

  • Many roads are currently being flooded as a result of seasonal heavy rains, although the authorities are trying to open them again as quickly as possible.  The main roads into Santa Cruz are particularly affected at present.

  • Air travel within Bolivia and international flights may be disrupted as a result of shortage of jet fuel.

  • There has been an outbreak of dengue fever in the regions of Santa Cruz and Beni in January 2007.  There have been a number of cases of Yellow Fever in the Yungas (La Paz department) and in the Chapare (Cochabamba department).  You should ensure you have a valid Yellow Fever vaccination certificate before travelling to these areas.  Some areas of Bolivia are malarial.  See Health section below for more details.

  • Be aware of the dangers of altitude sickness.

  • There is a risk of “express kidnappings”.  You should exercise caution when arriving in, and travelling around, Bolivia and be aware of the general risks of crime for visitors. See Crime section below for more details.

  • You should register with the British Embassy in La Paz, so that you can be contacted in an emergency.

  • The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Bolivia is theft of money, bankcards and passports.  You should carry photocopies of your passport and ensure that the original document is kept in a safe place.

  • The British Embassy in La Paz can only issue Temporary Passports (TP) to those British nationals who have lost or had their passport stolen and require an urgent replacement.  See General section for more details.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime

You should be vigilant and cautious about your surroundings on arrival and whilst travelling in Bolivia because of the number of violent crimes against foreign nationals, including British visitors.  You should exercise caution when choosing which type of transport to travel in.  Look out for established transport companies and ask widely for guidance – you should avoid people offering cheaper transport, particularly, but not exclusively, at the popular overland Copacabana crossing point from Peru.  This has been a regular starting point of violent, and sometimes life-threatening, attacks and abductions.
Beware of individuals offering help at taxi points at bus terminals where many thieves work in teams throughout the day and night to distract their victims.  They are quick and effective once they have a target in view.   If you do use a taxi look out for a “radio taxi” (identifiable by the telephone number prominently displayed on the vehicle’s roof), and make a note of the taxi’s registration number and telephone number before starting your journey.  Such taxis should carry no other passengers.  If you suspect that impostors are targeting you, take note that you cannot be searched without a written order from a state prosecutor.
Some criminals pose as police officers and act in collusion with bogus taxi drivers to target foreigners on arrival.  Their tactics have included using bogus police stations to fool victims.  As an illustration, a British citizen was physically attacked and robbed of belongings late at night in El Alto on his way from Copacabana to La Paz on what appeared to be public transport.
You should also be aware of the risk of so called "express kidnappings" - short-term, opportunistic abductions, aimed at extracting cash from the victim - that are occurring in Bolivia.  Victims are normally selected at random and held while criminals empty their bank accounts with stolen cash cards.  Once the ransom is paid the victim is usually quickly released.  Foreign visitors are particularly vulnerable when entering Bolivia on overland border points with Peru and Chile, such as Desaguadero at Copacabana. But express kidnaps are also occurring in La Paz and elsewhere in Bolivia.  Most recently, two British teenagers were kidnapped over the weekend of 1/2 July 2006, and a British national was held for some hours in late November. 
Petty criminals are common in central La Paz and other destinations popular with tourists.  They are a common danger, especially on buses and in crowded areas.
You should always keep your passport, air ticket and other valuable items, especially bankcards, in a safe location.  You should also keep a copy of your passport, in case you lose the original, to facilitate a more rapid replacement.
 
Political Situation

Bolivia Country Profile.
Local Travel
The national airline, Lloyd Aereo Boliviano (LAB), AeroSur and American Airways are reporting problems with obtaining jet fuel, which has led to some cancellation of international flights, especially the Miami-La Paz flights.  Travellers should check with their agencies for the latest situation.
Social protest is the traditional way of gaining government attention to address local, regional and national issues of concern.  You should avoid all protests.  Although most are peaceful, some can turn to violence.  Strikes and demonstrations, of which there is a constant risk in Bolivia, can affect local travel, including the interdepartmental bus routes.  Do not attempt to pass through or go around roadblocks.  Visitors should exercise caution and avoid protests wherever possible.  In early January 2007, Bolivia experienced a period of civil unrest, as some groups attempted to force the resignation of local Governors. There were violent riots in Cochabamba on 8 January and 11 January 2007, which led to over a hundred injuries and at least two deaths.  Although the situation has improved, protests could re-emerge in Cochabamba and in other parts of Bolivia, notably El Alto.

Access to airports can sometimes be difficult during times of significant protest.  You should maintain contact with your airline/tour operator before travelling, and in country you should monitor local media reports for up to date information.
The Rainy Season runs from November to March; landslides in mountainous areas and impassable roads are a regular occurrence at that time.  Bolivia is suffering particularly heavy rains at present, and roads have been flooded in the regions of Santa Cruz, Cochambamba, Beni, Tarija and La Paz.  These roads are usually opened again after a short delay, but heavy flooding can cause serious damage.  There are particular bad problems on the roads into Santa Cruz.  Please check with local travel companies on the situation before travelling.
Road Safety

Traffic is usually light, both on the main highways and unpaved roads.  But there is little control of vehicle road-worthiness and serious accidents do occur on the main tourist routes.  Some of Bolivia’s principal roads are paved, but of variable quality.  Most roads are unpaved rough tracks, which are graded from time to time.  4-wheel drive vehicles are often the best means of transport, especially during the rainy season, which can make roads completely impassable for days.  Broken-down vehicles with no warning lights are a frequent hazard on roads at night.  In the main cities, taxis are plentiful and cheap (but see Crime section above relating to bogus taxi drivers).  But many taxis do not meet European standards and rarely have seat belts.  Hire cars are available, but you will need an international driving licence.

You can take boat trips on Lake Titicaca but you should be aware that the craft are often very basic.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Bolivia is the world’s third largest producer of cocaine.  In their efforts to control the production, the government have harsh penalties for those caught trafficking or in possession.  You should therefore be very careful with your luggage and belongings and avoid any contact with prohibited drugs.  You should be careful especially when carrying cameras or binoculars when travelling off the beaten track, particularly in coca-growing areas such as the Chapare and the Yungas.  You should also check before taking photographs of the local population.
Homosexuality is not illegal, but is frowned upon by the majority of Bolivians, more so in the Altiplano than in Santa Cruz, where attitudes tend to be more liberal.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

As a British visitor to Bolivia, you do not need a visa providing your stay is for 90 days or less.  If you want to stay longer you should seek advice from the Bolivian Consulate at:  Bolivian representation in the UK.  Long-stay travellers should report on arrival in Bolivia to the Department of Immigration office in La Paz at Avenida Camacho No. 1468 to obtain the necessary endorsement in their passport.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that Bolivian authorities require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.   For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Bolivian Embassy in London:  Bolivian representation in the UK.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that comprehensive medical and travel insurance is obtained before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.  Some activities, such as mountain biking, are classified as hazardous and may be excluded in personal insurance policies.
The Bolivian government has announced that there has been an outbreak of dengue fever in the regions of Santa Cruz and Beni, centred around the city of Trinidad.
There have been a number of cases of Yellow Fever in the Yungas (La Paz department) and in the Chapare (Tropic of Cochabamba).  The government has warned of the possibility of yellow fever outbreaks in the regions of Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and Beni, following the recent heavy rains and flooding.  When outbreaks occur, the government sets up vaccination points at police checkpoints.  At each of these, you may be vaccinated if you do not hold a valid Yellow Fever vaccination certificate.  There is a high incidence of Malaria in lowland tropical areas (Beni and Pando) and the area known as Chaco in the south (Yacuiba, Paracari).  More than three-quarters of British travellers who contracted malaria in 2005 did not take preventive measures, such as malaria prevention tablets.  However, malaria can occur despite appropriate prevention, and therefore you should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country.  Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in Bolivia.
The altitude in La Paz (3500+ metres) and other parts of Bolivia, where altitudes are even greater, can cause problems associated with altitude sickness.  You should consult a doctor before travelling if you suffer from diabetes, heart, or chest complaints.  You should avoid alcohol before and shortly after arrival.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health's website at:  www.dh.gov.uk.
NATURAL DISASTERS
Floods and landslides, especially in mountainous areas, are a regular feature of the Bolivian rainy season, which runs from November to March.  Roads are frequently impassable for days at a time.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help
As a foreigner, while travelling in Bolivia you are required to carry some form of identity to produce on request to Bolivian authorities such as the police.  You can carry photocopies of the relevant passport pages, keeping your passport in a safe location.  Should you lose your passport or other documents, the Consular Section of the British Embassy will do their best to help you with replacements.  For this reason, you are strongly advised to keep separately a photocopy of your passport and register with the British Embassy on arrival.
From 29 August 2006, if you lose or have your passport stolen and need to travel urgently, you will only be able to apply in La Paz for a non-biometric Temporary Passport (TP), valid for up to one year, to facilitate onward travel.  The introduction of TPs is part of the new Biometric Recognition Information Technology (BRIT) Passport System being introduced by the British Government, in which only certain posts around the world can issue the new biometric passports.  More details on BRIT can be found at the Embassy website shown below.

Money

Banking facilities are good in all of the main Bolivian cities.  You can access your money via ATMs, which cater for Visa, Cirrus, and Mastercard.