Bolivia - Abbey Travel, Ireland

Begin Your Search

    • 16+ yrs

    • 12-15 yrs

    • 2-11 yrs

    • 0-23 mnth

Found Item

Welcome to Bolivia


Bolivia is known as the 'Tibet of the Americas', the highest and most remote of the countries in South America. It is a landlocked region with two Andean mountain ranges binding the Altiplano, or High Plain, between them. This plain has an altitude ranging from 9,000 to 13,000 feet (3,000 to 4,000m), and is where the majority of the population lives.

The history of the region dates back to the pre-Columbian times, from the ancient Aymará civilisation in 1500 BC who lived on Lake Titicaca, to the Tiahuanaco and the Inca Empire of the Altiplano, until the conquest of the Spanish in 1538. Traces of these civilisations are evident in the architecture of the colonial cities, displayed in informative museums that can be visited at the sites of ancient ruins.

Bolivia is one of South America's most intriguing countries, as the nation with the most concentrated indigenous population on the continent, the majority of whom still maintain their traditional culture and beliefs. This living historical culture is one of the reasons that Bolivia is such an exciting and increasingly-popular tourist destination. The landscape is imbued with traditional houses and age-old methods of agriculture, and visitors will find remarkable traditions kept alive in the ancient techniques of weaving, handcraft and food production. The sounds of this cultural legacy echo in the haunting melodies of the panpipes from the high Altiplano or in the lively tunes emanating from the warmer lowlands.

The dramatic geography affords many adventure opportunities: explorers can track wildlife in the Amazonian basin, drive across the surreal landscape of the Salar de Uyuni, take a boat trip on the world's highest navigable lake, Titicaca, scramble through muddy shafts in the silver mines of Potosi, or hike in the magnificent Andes mountains. There is enough diversity to meet many tastes.

A holiday in Bolivia is a juxtaposition of extraordinary altitudes and spectacular landscapes, fascinating remains of ancient civilisations, a rich indigenous culture and vast colonial treasures.

Information & Facts


Relationship building in Bolivia is important and getting down to business might take some time, so do not rush things. Negotiations are generally quite slow, and face-to-face communication is preferred over phone calls or written communications, therefore be prepared to make many trips before a deal can be made. Punctuality is expected, even if the meeting doesn't start on time, and schedules are often just a guideline and fairly unstructured; deadlines are not important. Business people are expected to wear suits. Meetings begin and end with handshakes, although wait for a woman to extend her hand first. It is important to include a person's professional title in the greeting if applicable, otherwise use Señor (Mr) or Señora (Mrs) with the surname. Business cards should also include any academic qualifications, and should have one side translated into Spanish; most business is conducted in Spanish and materials will need to be translated into Spanish. Women are considered insubordinate in the workplace and visiting businesswomen should ensure to emphasise their qualifications and work experience. Office hours are generally 8.30am to 6.30pm Monday to Friday with a long break over lunch.


Due to the altitude, Bolivia's weather features a fairly temperate climate, with cold nights and warm days. Temperatures get down to freezing on winter nights. Rain is likely over the summer months (November to March).


The international access code for Bolivia is +591. The outgoing code depends on what network is used (e.g. 0010 for Entel, or 0013 for Boliviatel), which is followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 001044 for the United Kingdom). The area code for La Paz is 2, but the access code to make a call within the country from another area also depends on what network is used (e.g. (010)2 for Entel, or (013)2 for Boliviatel). Mobile phones operate on a GSM network. Internet cafes are widely available in La Paz and other tourist areas.


In conversation rural Bolivians should be referred to as campesinos (subsistence farmers) rather than Indians. 'Machismo' is very much alive and husband and wife roles within the family are very traditional. Homosexuality is frowned upon, particularly in the Altiplano.

Duty Free

Travellers to Bolivia over the age of 18 years can bring the following items into the country without incurring customs duty: 100 cigarettes, 25 cigars and 200 grams of tobacco, 1 bottle of alcoholic beverage and a reasonable amount of perfume for personal use. Technology such as cameras, laptops and cellphones are limited to one per person for personal use. Newly purchased goods to the value of US$1,000 per person are also duty free. Travellers departing from the country should note that it is illegal to leave with the following items without prior written permission from the appropriate local authority: pre-Colombian artefacts, historical paintings, items of Spanish colonial architecture and history and native textiles.

220 volts, 50Hz. US flat two-pin plugs and one with round grounding pin are used.

Altitude sickness is the most common complaint in Bolivia with much of the country lying above 10,000ft (3,050m). This is particularly relevant to diabetics, those with heart complaints or chest problems, who should seek advice before travelling to Bolivia. Take Acetazolamide (Diamox) or drink coca tea to alleviate symptoms. A yellow fever vaccination is strongly advised, as outbreaks do occur, particularly after flooding, and it is a requirement for those entering from infected areas. Malaria is prevalent in some parts of the country, and dengue fever is on the increase. Sanitation and hygiene are poor in some areas so be wary of what is eaten; avoid under-cooked meat and unpeeled fruit and vegetables, and only drink bottled water. Medical insurance is strongly recommended.

Spanish is the official language, but only 60 to 70% of the people actually speak it, and then often only as a second language. The other main languages are Quechua and Aymar.

The official currency is the Boliviano (BOB), which is divided into 100 centavos, and is tied to the US Dollar. Money can be exchanged at exchange bureaux called casio de cambiosin the main centres, at banks and hotels. Banking facilities are good in the main cities and ATMs cater for Visa, Cirrus and MasterCard. Many hotels and other tourist-oriented institutions accept US Dollars. Major credit cards, including MasterCard, Diners, Visa and American Express, are accepted in the bigger hotels, restaurants and shops. Travellers cheques can be exchanged in casio de cambiosin the major cities and are best taken in US Dollars to avoid additional charges.

Passport Visa

All visitors that require a visa must hold a passport valid for at least six months beyond the length of stay; if no visa is required then only a passport valid on entry to Bolivia is necessary. All visitors travelling by air should also have return tickets and all required documents for next destination as well as sufficient funds to see them through their stay. All travellers arriving from Brazil or Paraguay must show valid Yellow Fever vaccination certificates on entry to Bolivia.


Street protests and strikes often affect La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz as well as the regions of the Central Highlands (Altiplano) and the Yungus. Main tourist centres may be affected and visitors should keep up to date with current conditions. Strikes also often disrupt transport to and from the international airport in La Paz and to the regions. Travellers should avoid demonstrations and not attempt to pass through or go around roadblocks, and monitor the local media. Due to operational difficulties being experienced by national airline LAB, air travel in Bolivia can be disrupted and flights have been cancelled.

Although Bolivia is generally a safe country, visitors should still be vigilant at all times. Pick-pocketing on buses or in crowded areas is common and baggage theft occurs at stations. Many thieves work in teams to distract their victims. Female tourists should avoid taking jungle and pampas tours on their own and always avoid unlicensed guides. Express kidnappings are also on the increase and travellers should be vigilant at all times. Penalties for drug possession are extremely severe and visitors should be vigilant with luggage and any belongings. Criminals posing as police officers and taxi drivers are targeting foreign tourists; there have been increasing incidents of robberies of this nature and visitors are warned to be cautious at all times. Violent attacks have occurred recently in Copacabana, especially targeting those travelling overland between Peru and Bolivia. Months of heavy rainfall are usually responsible for flooding and mudslides throughout the country, which can severely affect transport; the rainy season is usually from November to March.

GMT -4.

A service charge is normally added to restaurant and hotel bills but it is customary to add a 5 to 10% tip. Hotel porters also expect a small tip. Taxi drivers are not usually tipped unless they are hired for a full day, in which case 10% is acceptable.

Rurrenabaque is the starting point for holidaymakers planning an eco-tour to the Amazonian pampas and jungle. This little frontier settlement, perched between the surrounding jungle and the River Beni, is the loveliest of the Bolivian lowland villages. A trip on the river in a dugout canoe is an unforgettable experience, while the rainforest in Madidi National Park and surrounding Pampas is abundant in wildlife and many holidaymakers come to see anacondas, capybaras (the world's largest rodent), monkeys, turtles, macaws, caymans, piranhas, and even to swim with the pink dolphins. The tapir and armadillo are difficult to spot, often deep in the impenetrable tangle of the jungle, but there is plenty of bird life to be seen and heard. The rainforest is known for its immense biodiversity, ranging from mountain cloud forest to dry tropical forest, humid lowland rainforest to savannah, to wild rivers and lakes.

} ());
ACCEPT COOKIESTo give you the best possible experience, this site uses cookies. Using this site means you agree to our use of cookies. We have published a cookies policy, which you should read to find out more about the cookies we use. View cookies policy.