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Bolivia

If you’re travelling to Bolivia, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution.

Latest travel alerts

There is currently an outbreak of Zika Virus (a dengue-like mosquito-borne disease) in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Irish Citizens are advised to follow guidance available on the website of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) at http://www.hpsc.ie/A-Z/Vectorborne/Zika/.

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management. To report emergencies, contact the police, an ambulance, or the fire department by dialling 911 from any phone.

Because there is no Irish Embassy in Bolivia, we’re limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact Honorary Consul General of Ireland in La Paz, Bolivia or the Irish Embassy in Buenos Aires in Argentina.

We suggest you learn as much as you can about Bolivia before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books. The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems when you’re in Bolivia, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

If you phone outside of working hours, leave us a message giving:

  • Your name
  • The nature of your problem
  • Where you are now
  • Your contact details (mobile phone number or phone number of where you’re staying)

We regularly monitor these messages and one of our staff members will be in contact with you.

Other EU embassies

You can also contact the Embassies or Consulates of other EU countries for emergency consular assistance, advice and support.

Our tips for Safe Travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

Safety and security

Social unrest

Occasional episodes of social unrest can affect main tourist areas, transportation and domestic and international travel.

There’s a continual risk of demonstrations and strikes throughout the country. These protests can affect local travel and some interdepartmental bus routes have been disrupted as a result of a dispute between operators and the government. 

Always keep yourself informed of what’s going on around you by monitoring local media and staying in contact with your hotel or tour organiser. And avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, which can sometimes turn confrontational.  

Terrorism

Although the threat from terrorism in Bolivia is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates. 

Crime

Crime can be an issue in Bolivia and you should take sensible precautions.

Serious crime

There is a continuing risk of violent crimes against foreign nationals with reports of European nationals being attacked, robbed, sexually assaulted and threatened with murder. Some foreign tourists have been murdered.  

You should remain extremely vigilant and cautious about your surroundings whilst travelling around Bolivia, especially on arrival in the country. 

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Bolivia, you should be extremely careful. Some of Bolivia’s principal roads are paved, but of variable quality and most roads are unpaved rough tracks, which are graded from time to time. If you want to drive:

  • Bring your international driving permit and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights

Jeep safari tours

There have been a number of serious road accidents involving jeep safari tours, which have resulted in the deaths of several tourists. We recommend you check the conditions of vehicles, to wear seatbelts at all times, and we encourage drivers to drive safely and to respect speed limits.

Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Local laws and customs

Practical advice

  • Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them.
  • Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal.

Illegal drugs

Bolivia is the world’s third largest producer of cocaine. In their efforts to control the production, the government have harsh penalties for those caught trafficking or in possession. You should therefore be very careful with your luggage and belongings and avoid any contact with prohibited drugs.

Natural disasters and climate

Flooding

Floods and landslides, especially in mountainous areas, are a regular feature of the Bolivian rainy season, which runs from November to March. Roads are frequently impassable for days at a time.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

If you are unsure of the entry requirements for Bolivia, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Bolivia.

You can also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.

Passports

It’s advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.

Health

Check with your doctor well in advance of (8 weeks) travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for Bolivia.

Dengue Fever

Bolivia is a risk country for dengue fever transmission. The disease is concentrated in the Departments of Pando and Santa Cruz de la Sierra. The other main outbreaks were in the areas of central Cochabamba, the tropical zones of La Paz [Department], and in the city of Riberalta, in the Beni region (northeast Bolivia) and the Tarija Department.

Yellow fever

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required by foreigners when entering certain high-risk areas. These areas include all of the regions of Santa Cruz, Pando and Beni, and much of Cochabamba, Tarija and northern La Paz departments. The cities of La Paz and Sucre are risk free.

Malaria

Malaria risk is present throughout the country, except in urban areas and the highlands of La Paz (above 2500m/8202ft) and the two southwestern provinces of Oruro and Potos. You should discuss anti-malarial treatment with your doctor before you travel.