A collection of Bolivia travel and backpacking resources including Bolivia travel, entry visa requirements, employment for backpackers, and Spanish phrasebook.

Backpacking Bolivia

Looking for important travel information while backpacking around Bolivia? Here you will find information on working in Bolivia, entry visas, Bolivia hostels, and much more.

Table of Contents

A guide for backpacking around Bolivia. Get important travelers information when it comes to Bolivia including visa requirements, employment opportunities, common Spanish phrases and translation, as well as Bolivia hostels.

Facts About Bolivia

The Republic of Bolivia is a land locked country surrounded by five others, and it is also one of the poorest countries in South America. Bolivia has two capital cities: Sucre, is the legal capital and seat of the judiciary; La Paz is the administrative capital, and it is here that you will find the government as well as foreign embassies. As well as impressive cities, Bolivia boasts utterly breathtaking scenery including extinct volcanic craters and lush jungles. It is an incredibly diverse country, ideal for the traveller seeking a varied adventure.

Additional information:

Currency: Bolivianos (Bs), Time zone: GMT -4 Official Languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara Calling code: country code +591, international access code depends on which network is being used. Check with the provider.

Climate

The altitude keeps Bolivia a fairly temperate country and even at the warmest times of year the nights can get very, very cold indeed, with temperatures dropping below freezing during the winter. At lower altitudes, the weather is more typical of the tropics – warmer and more humid than higher areas. Clear skies mean that sunscreen is always a must, especially in the winter when skies are often clear and dry. The summer sees the start of the rainy season in November, which lasts through until around March.

Things to See and Do

As well as the hustle and bustle of the major cities, Bolivia offers some spectacular routes over which to trek, if hiking is your thing. The Salar de Uyuni are the world’s largest salt flats and are quite a sight to behold; if you feel adventurous there are some jungle hikes in the area around Coroico, which is accessible via the world’s most dangerous road!

If the local wildlife is of interest to you, the pampas trips, guided tours running out of Rurrenabaque through the jungle focussing on the animal life of the Amazon will be ideal. You can also pay a visit to the Madidi National Park, a ‘biodiversity reserve’ which boasts some beautiful woodland.

Lake Titicaca is an ever popular spot with the tourist trade and offers a perfect chance to grab some rest and relaxation. If you happen to be in Bolivia on their Independence Day on 6th August then Sucre is the place to be, the lively festival atmosphere throughout the celebrations is not to be missed.

Travel

Travel within Bolivia is in general reasonably priced and relatively straightforward although often not for the faint of heart. To travel long distances within the country the local airlines are probably the most convenient, not to mention quickest, method of getting around, although during the rainy summer months flights may often be cancelled due to poor weather conditions.

Buses are the most common method of transport between cities and where one is not available taking a shared taxi is not unusual. In more rural areas the definition of “bus” can be a fairly loose one so don’t be surprised if you end up travelling with livestock on occasion! Fares are changeable so be sure to try and haggle to get the best deal.

Within the city licensed taxis and public busses are convenient ways of getting about. If in doubt as to the legitimacy of a taxi, be sure to make your way to the depot rather than hailing a cab on the street.

Travelling to the Jungle

If you intend to visit the Amazon at any time during your travels to Bolivia, it is advisable that you take Malaria medication as a prophylactic. In addition vaccination against Yellow Fever may be required. This is not provided as standard by many doctors or travel clinics so you will need to find where it is available and book well in advance for vaccinations.

Accommodation

Accommodation is relatively inexpensive within Bolivia, and easily found within the major cities. However the quality of room you get for a particular price can vary wildly so make sure you ask to see the room that you would be staying in (not a “similar” room) and fully inspect it before you sign the register.

Healthcare Issues

It is recommended that before travelling to Bolivia you are immunised for Hepatitis A and B, and that vaccinations against tetanus, diphtheria and measles are all up to date. Sunscreen is important no matter what the country but the high altitude of the majority of Bolivia means that the sun’s UV rays can be much more damaging than elsewhere.

Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness can be a problem for those travelling to the country for the first time. Altitude sickness will most often manifest as a mild headache or physical tiredness, although some people feel the effects of altitude much more strongly. It is important to keep hydrated and if you start to really suffer with it to seek out medical help.

Entry Visas for Bolivia

As a British citizen you do not require a visa to enter the country, provided that your stay is under 90 days in duration. Passports should be valid for at least six months after your entry date. If you intend to stay in the country for over 90 days then you should contact the Bolivian Consulate. You will also need to report to the Department of Immigration in La Paz as soon as you arrive. Visitors from outside the UK should check with their local Bolivian Embassy regarding entry requirements as they can change depending which country you are from.

If you are accompanied by a child then you will need to be able to provide documentation proving parental responsibility, as failure to do so will affect your ability to enter the country (or in some cases, your child’s ability to leave it). Also if you intend to undertake paid employment in the country you will need to contact the Bolivian Embassy stating your intent and request further information regarding obtaining a work visa for the country.

More information can be obtained by contacting the Bolivian Embassy in London:

Address: 106 Eaton Square,London, SW1W 9AD Telephone: (020) 7235 4248/2257 Fax: (020) 7235 1286 Email: info@embassyofbolivia.co.uk Website:www.embassyofbolivia.co.uk

Once in Bolivia, British representation can be found at the British Embassy in La Paz. Amongst other things this is the place to go in case of any kind of legal trouble or in the event of a lost passport.

Address: Avenida Arce No.2732, Casilla (PO Box) 694, La Paz Telephone: (591) (2) 2433424 Fax: (591) (2) 2431073 Email: ppa@megalink.com (Embassy) dfid@zuper.net (DFID) Website: http://www.britishembassy.gov.uk/bolivia

Foreigner Work Permits in Bolivia

As Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in South America, working whilst travelling as a means to funding your trip isn’t really a viable option. Finding work can be difficult due to the country’s high unemployment rate, and any temporary job you find will be relatively poorly paid. Most of the opportunities available to you will be as a volunteer.

Education A large number of agencies offer placements of varying lengths within Bolivia, from a couple of weeks right through to a whole year and while these placements can cost a lot, accommodation as well as basic health insurance is often included. Each program will have a different amount of funding required, so it is best to explore all the options, as well as taking into account what elements of your trip are included when budgeting. Some placements also offer a TEFL qualification as an enhancement of the course or placement. Depending on whether you choose to teach English as part of a volunteer program or as part of an education abroad scheme, you may receive payment for your work in Bolivia – if this is the case you may need to arrange a work visa.

Conservation

There are a large number of opportunities available in the field of conservation for any ecologically-minded volunteers. Placements can include working in one of the country’s zoos or botanical gardens helping increase visitor’s awareness of conservation issues, right through to more hands on positions involved in Bolivia’s forestry development or animal rescue programs.

Missionary Work

Bolivia is a predominantly Christian country and there are a large number of opportunities to undertake missionary work while travelling there. Several Christian-run agencies exist, with placements running from a few weeks in length right through to two years. Teams are sent to work in the community focusing on evangelism and discussion of faith as well as the more conventional types of voluntary work including conservation, construction and education. These projects are often entirely self funded and may not include accommodation costs – this is important to take into account when budgeting.

Useful Links

Bolivia Hotels Guide has a wide array of hotel/hostel listings in many of Bolivia’s major cities. A good place to start research.

The Bolivian Embassy website has lots of info on the country including visa requirements.

The British Embassy in Bolivia is a good place to visit for local news updates and safety advice.

TeachAbroad offer a large database of teaching opportunities around the globe.

TEFL are specialists in teaching English as a foreign language and offer courses as well as placements.

i-to-i offer TEFL courses as well as many different volunteer programs.

ELI offer a wide range of voluntary opportunities in Bolivia, including conservation work.

Latin Link is just one of many Christian faith based voluntary programs that offers opportunities in Bolivia.

How to Say Common Spanish Phrases

Meeting People

English
Spanish
yes
si
no
no
thank you
gracias
You are welcome
De nada
please
por favor
Excuse me
Discúlpeme
hello
hola
goodbye
adiós
Good morning
Buenos dias
Good night
Buenas noches
I do not understand.
No entiendo.
Do you speak…?
Habla usted…?
English
Inglés
Spanish
Español
What is your name?
Como se llama usted?
Nice to meet you
Encantado de conocerle
How are you?
Cómo estás?
Good
bien
bad
mal

Directions

English
Spanish
map
el mapa
left
la izquierda
right
la derecha
Straight on
directo
far
lejos
near
cerca

Methods of Transport

English
Spanish
Where is…?
Dónde está…?
How much is the fare?
Cuanto es lo justo?
Ticket
boleto
A ticket to…, please.
Un boleto para…, por favor.
Where are you going?
Hacia dónde vas?
Where do you live?
Dónde vive usted?
train
el tren
bus
el autobús
underground
el metro
airport
el aeropuerto
Train station
la estación del tren
Bus station
la estación de autobuses
Underground station
la estación del metro
departure
la salida
arrival
la llegada
parking
el estacionamiento

Time

English
Spanish
What time is it?
Qué hora es?
Today
hoy
yesterday
ayer
tomorrow
mañana

Accommodation

English
Spanish
hotel
el hotel
room
el cuarto
reservation
la reservación
Are there any vacancies?
Tiene habitaciones?
No vacancies.
No hay lugares.
Passport
el pasaporte

Places

English
Spanish
Post office
la officina de correo
bank
el banco
Police station
la estación de policía
hospital
el hospital
chemist
la farmacia
shop
la tienda
restaurant
el restaurante
museum
el museo
church
la iglesia
square
la plaza
strret
la calle

Shopping

English
Spanish
How much does this cost?
Cuánto cuesta?
I will buy it
Lo compro
I would like to buy…
Me gustaría comprar…
Do you have…?
Tiene usted…?
open
abierto
closed
cerrado
postcard
la postal
stamps
los timbres
little
poco
lot
mucho
all
todo

Meals

English
Spanish
breakfast
el desayuno
lunch
el almuerzo
dinner
la cena
vegetarian
vegetariano/vegetariana
cheers!
skal!
The bill please
Me trae la cuenta por favor

Drinks

English
Spanish
drink
la bebida
coffee
el café
tea
el té
juice
el jugo
water
el agua
beer
la cerveza
wine
el vino

Food

English
Spanish
meat
la carne
fish
el pescado
vegetable
las verduras
fruit
la fruta
potato
la patata
salad
la ensalada
dessert
el postre

Food

English
Spanish
meat
la carne
fish
el pescado
vegetable
las verduras
fruit
la fruta
potato
la patata
salad
la ensalada
dessert
el postre

 

Bolivia Hostels

Hostels are a cheap form of accomodation, and so they are essential to backpackers and other budget travellers.

Sorry, no hostels have been registered for this country yet.

There you have it, the ultimate Bolivia backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Bolivia.