Stretching upon an area of 1,098,581 square kilometres and sitting in western-central South America, the Plurinational State of Bolivia (known officially as “Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia”) is a place that you should definitely consider visiting if you don’t mind a landlocked country on your vacation. Home to more than 11 million people and bordered by Chile, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, it is a place of great adventure considering its diversity. But before we spoil too much, let us see the top five facts before hitting the airport (wink)!
1. Language barriers:
Let’s get the elephant out of the room right away: if you speak Spanish in Bolivia, you are far easier off than the poor souls who do not. Why? Well, simply because not many people speak English, French, or any other popular language in Bolivia. Even the touristy areas are riddled with locals who use hands and feet to convey the simplest messages to outsiders. Here, the best bet is the youth for they use all sorts of technologies to advance their linguistic capacities. And here comes the fun part: besides Spanish, there are a total of 36 other languages also spoken all over the country. If you plan on visiting the rural areas, you are going to find that some people there don’t even speak Spanish. In this case, unless you are adept at Quechua, Aymara, Itonama, or the 33 others, you are out of luck. The people, however, are very friendly and they will do their best to assist you – this should by no means be a deal-breaker!
2. Climate zones galore:
Technically, Bolivia should be located within the bounds of the tropical climate zone but here’s the thing: the altitude difference between certain areas inadvertently created eco-regions with vastly differing climates. So what to pack? Well, the best thing would be to research the exact areas that you want to visit and act accordingly. For example: Chaco has a subtropical climate, Altiplano a desert-polar, and Llanos the typical tropical. Thought that it’s over? No way, because between these seemingly opposing zones, you can find all the transitional temperature-zones as well. Such an example would be Yungas, where you’ll find a generic temperate climate. No dressing-code-related problems here, eh (triple wink)?
When it comes to tipping, Bolivia is quite a relaxed country. Here’s the short version: tips are not expected but they are gladly accepted. Now, for the long version! The wages within the hospitality industry are by no means high there and this means that most workers complement their income with the occasional tips of generous customers. While a 10-15% service fee is usually added to the bill, the workers themselves rarely see any of it per se. So, what we recommend that you do, since you are already used to being polite, is to do another 10%-worth of charity. The locals are friendly and the food is good – why not be agreeable then? Oh, and round up those cab fees too while you’re at it (wink)!
While most people are generally afraid of the South American continent, it does not mean that it is full of misconduct. For example, Bolivia is one of the safest countries of the entire continent. The locals frown upon even the pettiest of crimes and they are outright outraged by it. violent crime is no more frequent than in any North American or European country and this makes it an excellent place to visit all year long. With a murder rate of only 12 per 100,000, it is a perfectly agreeable country in terms of safety. This, however, never means that you should flash expensive cameras around or flail about with too much cash. Smartness begets safety, always!
5. The Internet:
Well, if you’re planning on flashing a selfie every time you lay eyes on something cool and posting it on social media, you are not going to like this one. The internet in Bolivia is more than slow – it is snail-like. However, this may not come as a shock to the more carpe-diem people, who are there to enjoy the trip itself. The best thing that you can do there is to put that phone away and breathe in the surrounding beauty. The internet is but a tool, not something to latch on to. Stay excited stay offline… at least for a couple of days (quadruple wink)!
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences did you have in Bolivia and what can you share with the world about your trip? Tell us all about in the comment section below and be sure to check back from time to time for some interesting updates! See you next time!
PS: And do not leave out Lake Titicaca!