Bolivia

Quick Facts

Region: South America & Central America

Population:
9,775,246

Religion:

95% of the population are Roman Catholics.

Language:

Spanish, Aymara and Quechua are the official languages.

Area (sq. km):
1,098,580 square meters

Time:

GMT -4

When To Travel

Bolivia's rainfall varies from little or no precipitation in the Cordillera Occidental in the southwest to more than 1530 mm in the humid rain forests of the Oriente in the far northeast. The entire southern part of the country has little or no rainfall for at least four to six months each summer. The more densely populated La Paz and Lake Titicaca areas in the northern Altiplano average 580 mm of rainfall annually, with the dry season lasting only several months. Annual temperature variations are related primarily to changes in elevation. The lowlands and the intermontane valleys average about 25°C, the more elevated regions about 16°C. The annual temperatures of the lowland region (Oriente) vary little, averaging from 23° to 27°C.

You can travel in Bolivia any time of the year. Bolivia lies in the southern hemisphere, the winter runs from May to October and the summer runs from November to April. Winter time on the Andean 'altiplano' can be bitterly cold.

Useful Travel Facts

Airports:

La Paz Aeropuerto El Alto, is located Km 10 kms from La Paz. You can get to town by taxi for approximately US$10.

Telephone:

The international dialling code for Bolivia is +591.. Telephone calls, especially international ones, can be expensive when made from a hotel. We suggest you check the price first. If you have a mobile phone it should be a relatively simple procedure to arrange ‘global roaming’ with your service provider; however, charges are generally very high so be sure to check this option thoroughly. You should also check with your service provider to see if your mobile phone is compatible with the networks used in Latin America. Most countries in the region operate on the 1900 Mhz system. Phone calls made from public telephone offices are generally your cheapest option.

Electricity:

The electricity supply in Bolivia is rated at 110/220 volts, and appliances requiring 240 volts will work normally. If you bring electrical appliances you should also bring an international adaptor. Round two-pin plugs are the most common types in the region. Adaptors can be purchased prior to departure or in Latin America.

Transport:

The main means of transportation in Bolivia is by road and air. The roads across the altiplano are generally quite rough. Large, reasonably comfortable buses link all the major towns and cities in Bolivia as do aircraft. Bolivia has about 3698 km of railways. Railways connect the landlocked country to ports on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The principal line connects La Paz with the free port of Antofagasta, Chile. Of the 60,282 km of roads in Bolivia, only 7 per cent is paved. The national airlines, Lloyd AĆ©reo Boliviano and Aerosur, provide regular air services between the major Bolivian cities, to other Latin American countries, and to the United States. About 14,000 km of rivers are navigable by shallow vessels.

Shopping:

There are a variety of fantastically coloured textiles available to purchase in Bolivia. Look out for ponchos, shawls, blankets, place mats, rugs, caps or hats with earflaps and wall hangings. There are also a wide array of llama and alpaca jumpers and native instruments. Most of these items can be found in La Paz in the area above the Plaza de San Francisco. Pirate CDs and DVDs can be purchased just about anywhere in Bolivia, but be aware of the quality, they may not work when you get home! When shopping, bargaining is acceptable and expected. But be polite, patient and respectful and never criticize an item in hope of lowering the price.

Visa:


Americans currently require a visa for Bolivia. Australians, British, Canadians and New Zealanders currently do not require a visa for Bolivia. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent.


Useful Words & Phrases

Spanish

1: uno
10: diez
2: dos
3: tres
4: cuatro
5: cinco
6: seis
7: siete
8: ocho
9: nueve
Bicycle: bicicleta
Breakfast: desayuno
Can I take a photo?: Le puedo sacar una foto? Por Favor
Car: auto/carro
Cheaper: Mas barato
Closed: Cerrado
Dinner: cena
Do you speak English?: Habas ingles?
Entrance: Entrada
Exit: Salida
Fine, Thanks: Bien, gracias
Goodbye: Adios/Chau
Hello: Hola!
How are you?: Como estas?
How do I get to_____?: Como puedo llegar a_____?
I don't speak much Spanish: No hablo mucho espanol
I don't understand: No entiendo
I would like_____: Quisiera
I'm looking for_____: Estoy buscando
I'm vegetarian: Soy vegetariano
Information: Informacion
Lunch: almuerzo
Mr/Sir: Senor
Mrs/Madame: Senora
my hotel: mi hotl
My name is_____: Me llamo_____
My names is_____?: Me llamo_____
No smoking: No Fumar
Open: Abierto
Police: Policia
Taxi: taxi
the airport: el aeropuerto
the bank: el banco
the bill: la cuenta/la factura
the post office: el correo
the train station: ka estacuib de ferrocarril
Toilets: Banos
too expensive: muy caro
Turn left: A la izquierda
Turn right: A la derecha
What does_____mean?: Que quiere decir?
What is your name?: Como te Ilamas?
Where is_____?: Donde esta_____?

Further Reading

A Traveller’s Guide to El Dorado & the Inca Empire-L Meisch Backpacking and Trekking in Peru & Bolivia-H Bradt