Salt flats or Amazonian beauty, make sure you have the right travel insurance for your trip to Bolivia
Bolivia hosts some of South America’s most popular tourist attractions including the world’s largest salt lake, the oldest ruins in the Americas and diverse rainforests that dip into sections of the Amazon.
Like many countries in Central and South America, there are certain risks to be aware of when travelling in Bolivia. This guide will explore what to look out for on your travels and what to look for in a travel insurance policy.
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- Top five travel concerns for Bolivia
- How much does travel insurance for Bolivia cost?
- Activities to get cover for in Bolivia
- What happens if I have a medical emergency in Bolivia?
- Who do I contact in the event of an emergency?
- What are the entry requirements for Bolivia?
- When is the best time of year to visit Bolivia?
- Disease: Mosquito-borne diseases including Zika, malaria and dengue fever occur in Bolivia, as well as other food- and water-borne and infectious diseases. Travellers are advised to stick to boiled or bottled water and to avoid ice cubes and raw or undercooked foods. If you will be mountain climbing, be aware of the risks associated with altitude sickness.
- Travel insurance with effective medical cover, including medical evacuation and repatriation, is recommended for all travellers to Bolivia.
- Civil unrest: Protests and demonstrations may occur with little warning in Bolivia. While visitors are generally not the intended target of civil unrest, travellers are still advised to avoid trying to pass through protester roadblocks and to avoid confrontations. Strikes can also cause severe delays, making travel potentially unpredictable.
- Travel insurance for cancellations is advisable so that you can be covered for prepaid ticket costs and claim reimbursements for travel disruptions.
- Crime: Watch out for pickpockets and thieves in Bolivia, particularly on public transport or at popular tourist destinations. Violent crime and assault can also occur and travellers are advised to travel with guides where appropriate. Thieves have been known to work in teams and to utilise distractions, decoys and drugs, as well as pose as police officers. Be aware when determining whether an officer is legitimate that police in Bolivia require a written warrant to detain or search a suspect.
- Consider additional cover for valuables like cameras, jewellery and electronics that you take with you.
- Travel hazards: Avoid hailing taxis off the streets and stick to radio licensed and dispatched cabs. Use only taxis from well known companies, identified by the phone number prominently displayed on the vehicle’s roof. It’s also safer to travel with a guide, even on relatively busy trails. Roads and vehicles in rural areas are often poorly maintained and hazardous, and often lack adequate lighting and signage, so take extra care when driving.
- If renting a car, consider travel insurance rental car excess cover.
- Weather events: The rainy season in Bolivia is from November to March, and flooding, landslides, road closures and essential service disruptions are more likely to occur at this time of year. Remain alert to local weather reporting and plan accordingly for delays or disruptions when travelling at this time of year. Be aware that even air travel is also frequently disrupted.
The cost of travel insurance increases with age and comprehensiveness. The following table shows the average cost of basic and comprehensive policies, for one person travelling in Bolivia for one month.
|Basic travel insurance||$65.60||$116||$140||$241||$481|
|Comprehensive travel insurance||$115.95||$241||$258||$446||$1,123|
- Mountain climbing: Bolivia has peaks that appeal to a wide variety of skill levels. Those who are more advanced may want to look at cover for rock climbing, while those who intend to hike at altitude might want to check out travel insurance for trekking.
- Culture and nightlife: The pulsing nightlife of Bolivia’s cities can bring some unique colour to your trip, and the nation’s selections of cultural attractions, including monuments and ruins both new and ancient, mean it’s hard to miss this aspect of the journey. Consider travel insurance to protect your vital documents, as these can be hot items for thieves in tourist areas.
- Adventure sports: Get a thrill from bungee jumping, skydiving and other adventure activities on offer in Bolivia, but make sure you know whether your travel insurance policy covers them.
- Ecotours: Some of the most diverse regions of the Amazon, wild waterfalls and even ancient dinosaur trails are some of the natural attractions you can find in Bolivia. Checking them out might take you to some isolated areas and travel insurance with medical repatriation and evacuation may be advisable.
The standard of private hospitals and clinics in Bolivia’s major cities is reasonable but potentially expensive, while medical facilities in rural areas may be lacking. Hospitals and medical professionals may require payment in advance, even for emergencies, so having a travel insurance policy that pays up front is advisable. Failing this, you should ensure that you are able to pay out of pocket for the cost of medical treatment that you can then claim back later.
- In the event of legal trouble or miscellaneous issues you should contact the Australian consulate in La Paz, Bolivia on +591 2 297 1339.
- For lost or stolen passports contact the Australian embassy in Lima, Peru on +51 630 0500.
- If you have a travel insurance claim to make, contact your insurer on their 24-hour claims helpline as soon as you are reasonably able. If a travel insurance provider does not offer 24/7 claims assistance you should avoid them.
- For ambulance call 118.
- For English-speaking tourist police, if, for example, you are reporting a robbery, call 222 5016 when outside of La Paz, or 02 222 5016 when in La Paz.
- For emergency police call 110.
Address of Australian Honorary Consulate in La Paz, Bolivia
- Avenida Arce, Edificio Montevideo Mezzanine, Oficina 2 PO Box: 7186 La Paz Bolivia
Australians visiting Bolivia for tourism purposes do not require a visa. Instead you are granted entry for 30 days, which can then be extended after arrival for an additional 60 days.
You must have:
- A passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival
- Proof of sufficient funds for the duration of your stay
- Travel documents for your next destination, such as a return or onward ticket
Bolivia is good all year round and the best time to visit depends on what kind of weather you prefer and where you’ll be going.
|Cold season (May to October)||Pleasant and less humid in the Amazon and lowlands, but very cold in the mountains. Busier than the hot season, but with fewer festivals.|
|Hot season (November April)||Warm all over, fewer crowds and a lot more festivals, which you may want to either attend or avoid. Heavy rain can disrupt travel plans.|