BOLIVIA

Bolivia general information


Bolivia is:

  • A population of approximately 10.6 million.
  • Several official languages such as Spanish, Quechua, Aymara and Guarani.
  • A net income of $ 61.35 billion in 2013.
  • A total area of 1,099 km², twice the size of France.
  • A country that has no coastline and is surrounded by Peru to the North West, Brazil to the North and East, Paraguay to the South East, Argentina to the South and Chile to West.
  • The highest point of Bolivia is Nevado Sajama, 6,542m above sea level.


An exotic destination:

  • Bolivia is one of the safest countries on the continent.
  • It is still the least developed country in South America.
  • The population is predominantly indigenous; and therefore naturally preserves their ancestral customs and traditions.
  • The country has the world's largest salt desert (150km by 100km) and Lake Titicaca, the largest body of water in South America and the highest lake in the world.
  • It has 20 national parks and reserves and 6 Unesco World Heritage Sites.


The climate :

There are three main areas in Bolivia, thermal differences can be very important:

  • The highlands of the Altiplano: a virtually desert region at an altitude of about 4,000 meters. As in the Andes, the climate is cold, dry and windy. The temperature differences can be very high between day and night. During the day, it can be between 15-20 ° C (if there is no wind) and at night between -10 ° and 0 ° C (the coldest temperatures will be in South Lipez). Do not forget that the sun can burn at these altitudes!
  • The second zone is located at an altitude of between 1,800 meters and 2,700 meters. It is good during the day but in the evening, when the sun goes down, it can quickly cool.
  • Amazonia stretching to the borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay and covering 70% of the territory: the climate is humid and tropical; rain is plentiful and temperatures are relatively high.


The fauna and the flora:

Bolivia has an exceptional flora and fauna. Not very urbanized, it is conducive to the preservation of wildlife and is home to different species, depending on the geographical location.

On the Andean plateaus we find alpacas, llamas, vicuñas, deer, flamingos and many other species of birds. In the highlands, pumas and bears hide in the landscape.

The Amazon Basin, meanwhile, is home to the largest density of species on the planet. Lizards, parrots, alligators, turtles, guacamayos, jaguars, hummingbirds, tapirs, cabiais, snakes and other insects and animals live in harmony with nature.

The Chaco region, which runs from north to south, is very arid. It is populated by armadillos and rheas, the ostriches of the American continent.

This country, with many faces, has an incredible flora: virgin forests, savannahs, oases, volcanoes, vertiginous peak and snow-covered, trays covered with steppes, marshes cohabit on the same continent.

Gastronomy:

The Bolivian cuisine has the merit of declining in many forms the ingredients available to it and to develop dishes that will awaken your taste buds, such as:

  • Empanada saltena, the traditional dish: a slipper of cheese and meat; hot advisable.
  • Anticuchos: skewers of grilled beef heart or beef.
  • Montado de lomo: (fried eggs on a steak, served with rice and fried plantini
  • Pollo sajta: a dish appreciated by tourists, seasoned chicken with chilli
  • Lechon al horno: roast suckling pig accompanied by camote, sweet potatoes and fried plantini
  • The macho pique: a tangy mixture of meat; potatoes; onions and other vegetables
  • The fricassee: dish with pork and corn
  • Shisha: corn cider; to consume with moderation.
  • Feel free to taste the many soups prepared in Bolivia, such as:

  • Meato: dehydrated potato soup
  • And of course; do not forget to eat all these delicious tropical fruits that can offer us the country with the seasons



Health

Generalities:

In Bolivia, it is important to respect some rules of hygiene and health. We therefore advise you to:

  • Do not drink tap water unless it is boiled or purified with pellets.
  • Wash your hands regularly to reduce the risk of contamination.
  • Avoid raw vegetables, milk and non-industrial by-products, undercooked meat and ice cubes.


Vaccines:

To enter Bolivia from France, no vaccine is required. Some are however recommended including the following:

  • Diphtheria-tetanus-poliomyelitis-hepatitis A-hepatitis B
  • Yellow fever (if staying in the Amazon and tropical areas)


Altitude :

Good acclimatization is necessary for a sports activity on the Altiplano. In general, after two days in La Paz, small discomforts (headache, loss of appetite) fade.
Do not underestimate altitude sickness, it can be minimal as deadly

Nos conseils pour favoriser une acclimatation en douceur :

  • Hydrate yourself properly, drink regularly
  • Eat light and balanced
  • Revitalize during the day (cereal bar, dried fruit, sugar ..)


What medications to take:

We recommend that you consult the advice of your doctor, who will provide you with the appropriate medications according to your profile.
In case of headaches, prefer aspirin paracetamol
We do not recommend taking sleeping pills, aggravating hypoxia (lack of oxygen, the main cause of altitude sickness)

When to take Diamox®:

Diamox (Acetazolamide) is a diuretic that increases the ventilatory response to lack of oxygen. It is therefore very effective against altitude sickness.

pIt is to be taken only in case of persistent ills. Indeed, taking into account the undesirable effects of Diamox, natural acclimatization is preferred. The disadvantages of diamox:

  • It can cause side effects
  • Diamox is a diuretic, and therefore causes dehydration
  • Preventatively, it makes it difficult to detect an altitude problem


security

During an organized stay, there is little risk to travel in Bolivia. However, it is best to follow certain rules when traveling by public transport or your free visits in town: Safety

  • Keep a copy of your passport separately from your passport. Thus, in case of theft, it will be easier to edit temporary papers.
  • To avoid drawing attention to your money, keep it in your pockets or in a body bag.
  • On public transportation, always keep valuables on your lap, within sight, to make sure no one is searching.
  • Do not venture alone into remote rural areas without local contact. The risks of aggression are minimal but it is preferable, in all cases, to be accompanied in order to be able to exchange more easily with the locals.


What to bring for a trip to Bolivia

Here is an exhaustive list of what to bring during a trip to Bolivia

General:

  • A suitcase or a soft bag
  • A backpack of 20 to 30 liters
  • Comfortable shoes
  • A hat or cap
  • Sun glasses
  • A waterproof Gore Tex jacket
  • Warm clothes for the evenings, because with the altitude, the temperature drops quickly
  • A pharmacy case
  • A scarf or hiding neck
  • Shorts or capri pants


For treks and hikes:

  • A large backpack (about 60 liters)
  • Trekking pants
  • T-shirts with breathable material
  • A fleece jacket
  • Hiking shoes if possible rising stem
  • Good socks, to avoid blisters
  • A hat (for cool evenings)
  • Gloves (optional)
  • A sleeping bag, in case of night under tent (mandatory) or at the inhabitant (optional for your comfort, because blankets provided)


Miscellaneous equipment:

  • One bottle per person (minimum 1 liter)
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen, high index (> 50)
  • Lipstick
  • A pocket knife (optional)
  • A headlamp (in case of trek)
  • A simple toiletry bag
  • For water activities, a pair of old sneakers
  • Plastic bags (to pick up trash or protect your belongings in case of rain)
  • Swimsuit
  • Universal adapter


Pharmacy

We recommend that you consult a specialist to avoid over-medication

To bring during a trip to Bolivia:

  • Your usual medications
  • Pain medication: preferably paracetamol
  • Adhesive dressing sets
  • Disinfectant compress
  • Anti-diarrheal (Imodium type)
  • Intestinal antiseptic (Ercéfuryl type)
  • Anti-inflammatory ointment
  • Eye drops (dust, ophthalmia)
  • A cream to calm the sunstrokes, type Biafine
  • An anti mosquito product (if possible based on Geranium, more effective)


For the hikes: :
  • Double skin (type SOS Bulbs brand Spenco, available in stores sports, pharmacy, drugstore)
  • Elastic adhesive tape (Elastoplast type, 6 cm wide)
  • Purifying tablets for drinking water (Hydroclonazone, Micropur)


Best times to come

Bolivia is in the southern hemisphere and there are 2 seasons:

  • The winter of May to October: it is the dry season and it is the best time to visit the country (even from mid-May)
  • Summer from November to April: it is the rainy season and therefore the least recommended for visiting Bolivia, especially as the Uyuni salar may be flooded during this season.


Holidays and holidays in Bolivia

The festivals in Bolivia are numerous, and their customs somewhat surprising; here is a sample of the most important events:

January :

  • New Year: The color of underwear is very important for January 1st! Red promotes happiness in love life, yellow is associated with money and pink for health.
  • The day of kings (epiphany, January 6): some festivities are held in Reyes, Sucre, Tarija and the villages of the departments of Oruro, Cochabamba and Potosi.
  • Alasitas, La Paz and Copacabana (January 24): A 2-week celebration in honor of Ekeko, Aymara god of abundance.
  • Compadres and comadres festivities (before the last Thursday before carnival): Compadres and comadres refer to the godparents of the catholic baptism. They feast all together around meals and dances.


February:

  • Festival of Virgen de Candelaria (first week of February): During a week in several cities, important celebrations, ceremonies and rituals take place.
  • Carnival (during 3 weeks): Carnival is a very important and festive event in the country. The most picturesque is in Oruro with 28,000 dancers and 10,000 musicians with more than 400,000 spectators from around the world. Thanks to its creativity, the Oruro Carnival was inscribed in 2008 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

March :



  • Holy Week: Celebrated throughout the country. This is the most important Christian holiday. Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ after 40 days of Lent.
  • Pujllay (second week of March): The Indian people come to Tarabuco to celebrate the victory of local armies over the Spaniards in 1816: dance, songs, ritual music are on the program.


May :

  • Feast of the Cross (May 3, two weeks): Rituals are held in communities to honor the cross of Christ.
  • Gran Poder (end of May, beginning of June): Gran Poder signifies the celebration of the lord of great power. It takes place in La Paz and is accompanied by candlelight processions, elaborate costumes and dances. 30,000 dancers and 4,000 musicians roam the streets in a festive and happy spirit.


June:

  • Willkakuti (June 21): The Aymara celebrates the return of the sun. The main ceremony takes place at night in Tiwanaku. The participants then celebrate the Inti (the sun) and the Pachamama (Mother Earth) and sacrifice the blood of the llama.
  • The feast of St. John (24 June): bonfires, fireworks, traditional wood braziers are at the rendezvous throughout the country.


July :

  • Fiesta del Santo Patrono de Moxos (July 22nd): The biggest celebration of the Blessed, disguise and laughter guaranteed.


August:

  • Feast of the Virgin in Copacabana (August 5 and 6): it gives rise to a gigantic pilgrimage of Bolivians from all over the country to bring a candle to the virgin of Copacabana cathedral. Many parades and fanfares are at the rendezvous.
  • Independence Day (6 August): Many parades and gunshot. He is particularly animated in Copacabana.
  • Feast of the Virgin of Urkupina (Cochabamba, August 15): the festivities extend over the months of July and August. In the same style as the carnival of Oruro, this event has 10 000 dancers and musicians making live the local folklore.


September:

  • San Roque Fiesta (8 days): Celebrates the end of the plague of leprosy in the Tarija region.


Useful information



JET LAG

There is a 6 hours gap with France from May to October, 5 hours the rest of the year.

ELECTRICITY

110 and 220 volts. Provide an adapter (American standard electrical plugs). Most vehicles have cigarette lighters that can be used to charge the batteries of a portable device (camera or other). However, many drivers condemn them for pointing out that smoking is prohibited on board.

TELEPHONE AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Only tri-band devices will allow you to call (or receive calls) to (from) abroad. However, you can call from your hotel or from one of the many long-distance phone points found in cities
To call from Bolivia to France: 00 + 33 + number of the correspondent (without the initial 0).
To make internal calls 0, then the city code followed by the seven-digit phone number. To call a mobile, also dial 0, then the number of your correspondent.

MAIL:

The post office is called ECOBOL (Empresa de Correos de Bolivia). The sending of parcels to France is quite safe (about 20 days). "Recommended" is certified.

TRAVEL INSURANCE:

A specialist in travel insurance for more than 35 years, AVI International manages travel insurance for more than 100,000 travelers worldwide each year.
AVI International offers "Routard Insurance" designed in partnership with the Guide du Routard: short or long term, with or without deductible, à la carte rates according to your needs.

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