7 things I wish I knew about Bolivia before I went

Wish someone had told me these before I went. Just sayin’.

7. If you’re in the lowlands (aka not the Salar), there are mosquitos and other bugs that will bite you. Bring your bugspray.

6. If you decide to visit the Salar de Uyuni, dress in layers. It gets really cold at night when you’re at an elevation of 11,000 feet above sea level but around noon the sun will be shining down on you and you will be warm!

5. Bring boots or flip flops to the Salar. (or shoes you’re willing to destroy). When you’re at the salt lake, you’ll want to walk around. If you walk around barefoot, your feet will hurt. Salt is very pointy.

4. They eat llama and crocodile there. I personally will never eat llama, but if you’re into exotic meats, Bolivia’s a great place to try some. If you’re like me and prefer to see your llamas alive, there are tons of them!! You can take lots of photos. 🙂

3. Bolivians are very particular about using cash. First off, you might be able to use credit cards in large cities such as La Paz or Santa Cruz. But if you’re trying to buy a bus ticket or pay for food at a restaurant in Montero, make sure you have cash. Very few places in the country accept credit cards.

2. There is a travel tax added onto buses and planes. When we flew from Santa Cruz to Sucre (domestic) we were charged an “airport tax” of 15 Bolivianos (~2 USD). Coming back, we were charged 11 Bolivianos. I guess the Sucre airport had a lower tax since it was a tiny airport with only 2 gates…! To leave the country, you have to pay a tax of 25 USD. Yup. That’s tacked onto the taxes you’ve already paid to your airline. Don’t forget to keep this amount of money…to be paid, in cash. 

1. This is probably the most important thing I learned. Along the same lines as 2, if you want to exchange your American dollars, MAKE SURE YOUR BILLS ARE PERFECT. They DO NOT accept worn bills, bills with even miniscule rips or tears. They say that it “devalues” the foreign currency. This is something my group was a bit stressed out about as we did not know how picky the money exchanger folks would be. So if you’re planning to bring $100’s, $50’s, or even $20’s into the country, make sure they are beautiful, pristine. Think brand new bills.

So there you go! You’re more then ready to go explore!

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