Bolivia

Bolivia is a beautiful, diverse, multi-ethnic country. It’s home to the earth’s coldest, warmest, windiest and steamiest spots and boasts the driest, saltiest and swampiest natural landscapes in the world. The people of Bolivia have remained the most cultural of all in South America due to their relative isolation, with over half the country’s population either Quechua or Aymara. The richness of this culture can be seen throughout the country from the traditional Andean folk music to the colourful markets and street-sellers.

When to Visit

With such diverse geography, Bolivia experiences almost every kind of weather. The most popular and most comfortable time for exploring the whole country is during the winter months of May to October, where travellers will enjoy dry, clear days.

Highlights

LA PAZ La Paz is the highest capital city in the world and is aptly known as the city that touches the sky. The city’s buildings cling to the sides of the canyon and spill spectacularly downwards.

VALLEY OF THE MOON The Valley of the Moon, or Valle de la Luna, is a large collection of sandstone monoliths shaped over many thousands of years by the dry winds of southern Bolivia.

LAKE TITICACA Lake Titicaca is one of the world’s highest navigable lakes and the Isla del Sol is the legendary site of the Incas’ creation. Lake Titicaca is one of the most enigmatic places in the world.

SALT FLATS OF UYUNI Bolivia’s salt flats were part of a pre-historic salt lake, which covered most of the south-west of the country. Where the sky and ground merge like heaven on earth, Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat.

MADIDI NATIONAL PARK Situated in the upper Amazon river basin, Madidi National Park provides amazing wildlife encounters and the chance to interact with the local indigenous community who have lived within the park for over 300 years.

ATACAMA DESE RT, CHILE The spectacular Atacama Desert in Chile, with its innumerable geological wonders, hot springs, salty basins and snow-capped volcanoes is one of South America’s hottest destinations and a great extension to your Bolivian journey.

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Useful Information

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

Tipping

Service charges are included with the bill. A tip of around 5% or so is sometimes given, and is considered polite.

Getting around

Bolivia’s topography, size and lack of basic infrastructure means that getting around is often a challenge. The majority of Bolivia’s road network is unpaved, and most main roads are in a poor condition. However, travelling through the country’s varied and stunning landscapes is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of a visit to Bolivia, and the pleasure of many places lies as much in the getting there as in the destination itself.Most Bolivians travel by bus, as these go pretty much everywhere and are extremely good value. When there are no buses, they often travel on camiones (lorries), which are slower, much less comfortable and only slightly cheaper, but often go to places no other transport reaches.

The much-reduced train network covers only a small fraction of the country, but offers a generally more comfortable and sedate (though not necessarily faster or more reliable) service. In parts of the Amazon lowlands river boats are still the main means of getting around.Though few Bolivians can afford it, air travel is a great way of saving a day or two of arduous cross-country travel, and most of the major cities are served by regular internal flights. The approximate journey times and frequencies of all services are given in each chapter, but these should be treated with caution to say the least: the idea of a fixed timetable would strike most Bolivians as rather ridiculous. Buying or hiring a car is a possibility, but given the state of the roads in many areas and the long distances between towns, it’s an adventurous way to travel and doesn’t guarantee you’ll reach your destination any faster.

Language

Spanish 61%, Quechua 21%, Aymara 15%.

Customs

Social interaction is governed by norms emphasizing respect and formality and marking age, gender, status, and class differences. Shoppers are expected to be polite and convey deference to shopkeepers by using the adverb "please." The use of formal Spanish pronouns (usted but not tu) is especially important in addressing elders and older relatives, as are honorific titles for men and women (don for men and doña for women). Peasants address members of the urban, Spanish-speaking elite as "gentlemen."

Cultural mores dictate that one stand very close to the person with whom one is interacting. Gazing and looking directly in the eye are acceptable. Physical greetings vary greatly. In rural areas, simple, short, firm handshakes are common; a hug (but short of a full bear hug), followed by a short pat on the back, is expected between kin and close friends. In rural settings, public touching, caressing, and kissing among couples are frowned on. Generosity and reciprocity are required in all social interactions, many of which involve the sharing of food and alcoholic beverages.

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Vaccination against Hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to Bolivia. Vaccination against Hepatitis B, Rabies (particularly if working with animals) and Typhoid (particularly when travelling to areas with poor sanitation and hygiene) should be considered by frequent or long stay travellers to Bolivia. Care with food and beverage selection is recommended. There is a medium risk of Malaria in Bolivia (usually at altitudes below 2,500 m) and Dengue Fever also occurs, thus insect avoidance measures and anti malarial medication may be necessary depending on your itinerary. As Yellow Fever occurs in Bolivia, vaccination may be recommended depending on itinerary. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to Bolivia should ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. Medications that are legal in New Zealand may be illegal in other countries. 

Electricity

Electrical Socket type: European and Japanese Voltage: Both 120v and 240v systems are used in Bolivia. Before using any electrical device, ensure the voltage is compatible. Modem Plug: USA. Source: Korjo Travel Products. To purchase electrical adapters, or for further information, please go to www.korjo.com.au.

Communications

Country Code for Bolivia: +591 Entel - 0010 Aes Communications - 0011 Teledata - 0012 Boliviatel - 0013 followed by 61 Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz Tourist Police (English Speaking): (02) 222 5016 Emergency Services: 110 The emergency services may not have English speaking staff. To avoid delay it may be best to seek the assistance of a Spanish speaker to call the emergency services.

Shopping

One of the most popular markets in Bolivia is Witches’ Market in La Paz. It is one of the most loved spots for tourists in Bolivia. Another market in La Paz that is worth visiting is Feria Del Alto. It offers a wide range of ponchos, alpaca sweaters, leather clothes, textiles and handicraft items. It is usually held on Thursdays and Sundays. Thanks to a great variety of souvenirs, herbs and unique items of clothing, Bolivian markets became one of the top attractions in the country that every tourist should visit.

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