5 tips to beat pre-trip anxiety before traveling to Bolivia

Even those who love traveling can fall prey to pre-trip anxiety once in a while. Will you be safe? Will you be able to work and stay in touch with loved ones from your destination? Should you be traveling somewhere else, instead? Should you be traveling alone?  Just because you have these feelings doesn´t mean you should not travel. But you should definitely take them into account, find out what is triggering them, and take measures to put your mind at ease. In this post we share with you five tips (and a bonus) for doing just that.

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  1. Identify the source of anxiety

It´s important to figure out the source of what’s bothering you, to see if there are any measures you can take to feel better about the trip. Are you nervous about being robbed? Not being able to communicate with anyone? Are you afraid of flying? Or that you’ll be lonely? Do you think you’ll miss an important event at home?

Once you identify the source, see what you can do to fix it. Would you feel more confident about not getting your stuff stolen if you bought a camera bag that locked? If you’re nervous about meeting people, you could post a message on the local Couchsurfing group or book yourself into a dorm or private room at a social hostel.

With traveling so affected recently by the closing of borders and cancellation of flights and other services, it´s normal to feel nervous that your trip could suffer unforeseen changes. To be safe, you shoud deffinitelly buy travel incurance. Check out this article about the best travel isnurance companies for packpackers.

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Sometimes, the only problem is you´re worried about the unknown, and that is normal. But then, going out into the unknown is probably why you travel in the first place. To help ease the anxiety, it´s important to follow our next tip:

  1. Do your research 

If what is bothering you has to do with lack of information, then getting information is essencial. If not knowing is a problem, then plan at least the first days of your trip in detail, just to put your mind at ease. You can always cancel tours, move to another hostel, or go somewhere else once you´re feeling more confident.

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So, find out about the best hotels, the safest tours, what the people are like, cultural dos and dont´s, how you should dress. Answer questions such as: are there ATMs? Can you pay with debit or credit cards? What are the safest neighborhoods? What local food should you eat and what should you avoid?

Of course, find out what health measures you should take. For example, if you´re traveling to Bolivia or Peru, you might be uneasy about the altitude (3600 meters above sea level in La Paz). Check out this article about how to deal with it and stay safe. Once you have all the information, you´re ready for our next tip:

  1. Plan (and book) ahead

Aside from relieving anxiety and stress, planing and booking ahead can be a great source of pre-trip joy. Like we said before, planing the first few days in detail can help you feel secure.

So, what will you do as soon as you step off the bus or plane? Decide now if you will want to change money at the airport/bus terminal, or can wait to do it downtown. How will you get to your hotel or hostel? In Bolivia, the covid-19 crisis has made traveling in public transportation a less safe option, so we recomend you book a hotel that can send a cab to get you from the airport. They follow all the mesures to ensure bio-safety.

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Ok, so, you´re at your hotel. What then? Depending on what time you arrive, you might want to rest and leave the sightseeing for the next day. You can book a tour of the city to get your bearings in a controled way. No matter which city in Bolivia you are visiting, click here for a comprehensive list of certified tours you can book right away.

Same thing goes if you are traveling by bus. You can buy your bus and train tickets online for dozens of destinations in Bolivia  and to neighboring countries. Just click here, write in your origin and destination and the date you want to travel. You will be able to compare prices and services and choose the best option for you.

But, wait. Are you anxious too much planning wil stifle your freedom? Are you not ready to commit to a tight schedule? Well, that takes us to the next tip:

  1. Know you can always change your mind or cancel

Planning and booking ahead is a tool you use to ensure you get a room you like and you have your tickets secured for your trip, as well as giving you a feeling of safety and control. But this is your trip. You can cancel a hotel booking after a few days if you don´t feel comfortable, or have found a place that better suits your needs. You can cancel bus and train tickets and get most of your money back, as long as you do it 48 hours before the trip. Same thing applies for tours.

Of course, if you are tight on cash, your cancelling options might be fewer. But, if you book with Tickets Bolivia, you can even just change the destination or date of your trip, so you don´t need to cancel but you still enjoy the freedom of improvising as you go along.

You can do whatever you want on this trip. You can be more adventurous, or more easygoing. You can be social or a loner. You can have the  peace of mind that comes with booking everything ahead, with the thrill of making your trip your own as you go along.

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  1. Bring extra cash for safer options

Speaking of tight on cash, it is a very real thing that you should have extra cash you can count on in order to stay safe, especially if you are having doubts about the trip.

Safety and freedom to change your mind are things you should really invest in.  For example, if you need to take a cab because you don´t feel comfortable walking or taking public transportation, or booking into a more expensive but safer hotel, or cancelling a bus ticket without the possibility of a refund because you simply changed your mind.

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You may never need to use it, but you will be reassured just knowing that the extra money is there to spend it if you need it.

  1. Bonus tip: know you will probably be glad you came

99.9% of the time, you’ll be glad you came. You will look around you at the landscape, the view, the food in front of you, the new friends you´ve made and say to yourself: I´m so glad I went on this trip. But often you don’t realize that until you’re on the ground in your destination. Feeling the different temperature, the language of people, the streets full of different smells and colors. That may be all that it takes to remind yourself why you love traveling in the first place.

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Uyuni Salt Flat (by Gaby Iturri)

Of course, there are occasional instances when cancelling a trip altogether is the right way to go. Maybe the time is not right and you can make this trip later in the year. Maybe it´s something else you need to solve. In any case, se hope these tips are useful for making up your mind.

5 of the most amazing cities to visit in South America

South America has some of the most amazing cities in the world. Can you imagine traveling by land from Sao Paulo, the biggest city in the region, to Buenos Aires, the Paris of South America, to La Paz, the highest altitude capital city on earth, to Cusco, the party capital of Peru, ending in Lima, the city by the sea where trying the food is enough reason to stay? In this post, we tell you about six of the most amazing cities in South America and how to get from one to the other, crossing the entire continent by land!

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Park in Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo, Brasil

Sao Paulo, is the largest and one of the mos wonderful cities in South America, with endless things to do and see. The huge diversity of art, food, historic and recreational activities this city offers can be overwhelming (for example, there are over 15,000 bars) so find some cool spots to visit before your trip. This way, you are sure to use your time wisely.

So, any idea where to go? For food, the Jardins district is rife with little restaurants and art-house cinemas. While it’s not necessarily eye-pleasing, it is a sophisticated city with a melting pot of cultures. With influences from Japan, Italy, Lebanon, Germans and a growing number of Peruvians and Bolivians, to name just a few, the city has a unique fusion of culture. This post makes for a list of excellent restaurants where you can try just about anything.

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Street art in Sao Paulo

There are plenty of cool attractions in Sao Paulo alongside the museums and cathedrals. For an unusual art exhibit, visit Beco do Batman, Batman Alley, an open air gallery of street art attracting artists from all over the world. Or you can take a look at the world’s second highest Lego tower, made of 500,000 pieces. And of course, there are plenty of shopping options, from high-end designer clothes to markets full of antiques and handicrafts.

To get to our next destination, the capital city of Argentina, you can take a bus from Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires. The trip is a long, but rewarding one, and you can buy your tickets online by visiting the Tickets Bolivia page.

 Buenos Aires, Argentina

Steak, tango, red wine and football. Buenos Aires, the ‘Paris of South America’, is known for many things. It has a reputation for being seductive, elegant and sophisticated. With theatres, opera houses, galleries, and French and Italian influenced architecture. Buenos Aires has a lot going for it and a lot to keep you entertained.

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9 de Julio Av, Buenos Aires

This city is a strong contender for South America’s best party city. It’s not just the nightlife that’s over the topt in Buenos Aires, as you’ll realise while you walk around its busy streets. For a dose of architecture, history and literature all in one, check out El Ateneo Grand Splendid, one of the world’s biggest and most beautiful bookstores that’s lived previous lives as a theatre and cinema.

The food is another erason to spend a few days here. You can´t leave if you haven´t tried a parrila, where heaps of steak, sausage, ribs are put on a grill and washed down with the best local Malbec.

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Tango Show in the streets of Buenos Aires

A great way to spend a day here is to explore the barrios, walking from one neighborhood to the next. They all have distinct personalities. For example, the lively La Boca is known for the rows of colourful houses, whereas San Telmo is famous for its eclectic markets. The elegant Recoleta has the lavish cemetery, while the trendy Palermo is great for people watching.

To get from Buenos Aires to our next destination, La Paz, you can buy bus tickets online. The buses are very comfortable and the journey takes around 30 hours.

La Paz, Bolivia

La Paz, the administrative capital of Bolivia, is the highest in the world. Located at 3,600 meters above sea level, in the Andes Mountains, you can take in gorgeous views of the city that literally clings to and sprawls down the canyon that’s incredible to explore.

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La Paz cable car view

If it’s the views you’re after, head on the aerial cable car system, Mi Teleferico. In 2014 the city introduced Mi Teleférico, the world’s highest cable car network. This transformed the city, lifting people up out of the traffic and turning an hour drive into a thrilling ten minute journey through the sky. As well as saving many of residents from commuter hell, the views of the city and the insight into life of the locals are amazing. Be sure to dress warmly and be prepared to spend some time acclimating to the high elevations. It can be tough if you’re not used to higher-altitude cities. For a few tips on how to cope, check out this post.

When you´re done with floating over the city, try walking it. Wander through the large food market, inspect the bizarre and gruesome things on offer in the witches market, and enjoy the intriguing architect style, a combination of concrete blocks against dramatic Gothic spires. It’s dizzy, gritty and chaotic but also exhilarating and enthralling with an endearing rough-around-the-edges charm.

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Streer fair in La Paz

Our next destination is cusco. You can buy bus tickets from la Paz to Cusco by cliking here, where you will also find the schedules and prices of the best companies offering this service.

 Cusco, Peru

Cusco is a city famous for being the gateway to the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu. The city has many colonial cobbled streets, white buildings and ubiquitous orange rooftops, making it one of the most beautiful cities in South America. The spiritual vibration of the surrounding sacred valley is felt throughout the city, so yoga spots, meditation sessions and ethical vegan eateries are common. It’s also one of the best cities to visit in South America for anyone wanting to learn Spanish, with loads of local schools offering courses at cheap prices.

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Plaza de Armas Square

Cusco was once the Inca capital, and it was built on the ruins of ancient temples and palaces. It´s rich history is fascinating. Plaza de Armas is the heart of the city and an ideal starting point of any walking tour. Cusco is home to a lively nightlife, for which it has been named ‘party capital of Peru’. All kinds of bars and clubs surround the square, playing electronic, hip-hop and dance music till the early hours with street vendors on hand for when you make the journey back to your hotel.

Our final destination in this tour of cities is Lima. To travel by bus from from Cuzco to Lima, and to see the schedules and prices of the best companies offerind this service, click here.

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Inca walls near Cuzco

Lima, Peru

A lot of travellers pass through Lima on their way to Cusco and Machu Picchu or on their way back. Lima may get a day or two at a glance on most itineraries, but it’s not a city many stay in. Yet, Lima has a lot to offer travelers, especially foodies.

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A view of Lima

Founded in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro, Peru’s capital city is one of the best cities in South America to visit. Located between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Coast, you’ll find a huge amount of colonial Spanish buildings as well as ancient Incan archaeological sites close by. Some cool things to do in Lima include:

  • Visit El Circuito Mágico del Agua: The Magic Water Circuit is a night show of water and light in Parque de la Reserva: 13 water fountains that come to life with lasers, coloured lights, and music.
  • Eat ceviche: This popular seafood dish is made with raw fish cured in lemon. The fish is served with white corn, sweet potato, and red onions, typically for lunch. Some popular cevicherias in Lima include: La Mar, Punta Sal, Pescados Capitales and El Punto Azul.
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Seafood Ceviche
  • Eat peruvian food in general: Peruvian food has become known around the world for its blend of indigenous, spanish and asian cultures, and for the way its street food and popular cousine has been made gourmet with a few fusion twists. Peru’s cuisine has evolved, blended, and been adapted by the various cultures found within the country. Some prime examples of this include chifa (Peruvian-Chinese fusion) and nikkei (Peruvian-Japanese fusion). You’ll also find that dishes vary by geographical region, resulting in coastal, Andean, and jungle food. For all these reasons, Lima is considered the gastronomic capital of Latin America. From the most gourmet restaurants to the cheapest street-food trucks, the food in Lima is well worth trying.
  • Tour the city: The bus tour company Mirabus runs various tours within Lima.. If you want to get an overview of Miraflores and Lima’s historic centre, then their tour Lima by Dayis a good option. The tour last 3.5 hours and it is 70 soles.
  • Shop at Larcomar. Larcomar is a shopping centre located in Miraflores, which stands out because it has been built on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with amazing lookout points. People come here to shop, have dinner, or enjoy a snack with an amazing view.

We hope the information is useful and wish you happy traveling!

The most spiritual places to travel in South America

For many people, traveling is a form of spiritual practice. Traveling can refresh and renew your sense of wonder, and allow for a deeper connection to the earth, other cultures and your self. Now, traveling to specific places known for their spiritual power can be an even more spiritually rewarding experience.

Tourist destinations that are highly regarded spiritualy have been constructed based on specific belief systems, such as churches and temples, and some are known as such simply based on the energy and vibration of the landscape and nature. These last tend to be of spiritual importance to ancient and native cultures.

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In this post, we will tell you about the most spiritual places to travel to in South America. We can even imagine a spiritual tour for you, starting in the low-lands of Bolivia and ending in the peruvian desert. Many of these destinations are known for their ancient legends, spiritual practices and long-standing ceremonies, while other sacred sites now exist as ruins or natural wonders.

Samaipata (Bolivia)
We start our imaginary spiritual tour in Samaipata. The ruins of Samaipata are located in the remote mountains of central Bolivia, 120 kilometers from the city of Santa Cruz, the largest city of the Bolivian low-lands. The ruins of this fort and ancient, pre-incan religious temple are one of the most enigmatic ancient sites in all of South America. Located on a mountain at 6500 feet above sea level (1949 meters), the site was first discovered by the early Spanish and named ‘The Fortress’ as they believed it was a strategic, military strong-hold of the Incas.

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Ceremonial stone of Samaipata

Today, archaeologists believe it was not a military fortress, but a spiritual one. The ruins of Samaipata consist of two parts: the stone hill carved with fascinating images of jaguars, snakes, other zoomorphic and geometrical figures, a water tank with conduits, and a curious seating arrangement; and an area to the south of the stone hill that seems to have been the administrative and residential district. The seating arrangement at the top of the stone hill was designed with 12 seats carved into the hilltop facing toward each other in a circle.

You can travel to Samaipata by bus from any city in Bolivia. Just click here for a full article about how to reach Samaipata from Cochabamba, Sucre, La Paz and Santa Cruz. In order to get to La Paz, where our next destination lies, you can take a bus from Santa Cruz to La Paz. 

The Ancient City of Tiwanaku (Bolivia)
Our next stop are the ancient ruins of the pre-incan city of Tiwanaku, which was once the spiritual and political capital of the Tiwanaku Empire. Believed to have existed between 300 BC and 300 AD, this empire dominated the area in the current border between Bolivia and Peru. Today, it is a ceremonial site with majestic structures infused with an ancient spirituality that’s palpable. Hightlights are Tiwanaku’s beautifully crafted sculptures and its mysteriously crafted megalithic stone arch known as La Puerta del Sol (“The Gate of the Sun”). What’s more astounding than these few remnants themselves is the mindboggling story behind their construction. Consider the fact that the stones — weighing up to 150 tons — were somehow transported from more than 10 miles away.

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Monolith sculpture in Tiwanaku

Today, the ruins are the center of a spiritual celebration of the Winter Solistice. Every june 20th, indigenous communities gather around the Gate of the Sun at night and hold bonfire vigils, waiting for the sun to return and receiving the first rays that go through the gate. This celebration has become a spiritual tourist attraction in the last ten years. You can travel from La Paz to Tiwanaku by train. To buy tickets and check out the schedule, click here.

Lake Titicaca & Sun Island: Birthplace of Inca Civilization (Bolivia/Peru)
Just a few kilometers from the ruins of Tiwanaku is the next place on our tour: Lake Titicaca. This lake was central to the birth of the Inca civilization, as legend has it both its founder-king,  and the sun itself were said to have emerged from these glistening blue waters. Thus, the lake’s Isla del Sol (“Island of the Sun”) became a vital religious center, attracting pilgrims from across the ancient empire to visit its shrines on this endless lake.

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A view of Lake Titikaka

It is hard to believe that this remarkable expanse of shimmering water, the highest altitude navigable lake in the world, is indeed a lake and not a vast ocean, as it unfolds towards the horizon in a spectacular display of natural beauty. You can sail across the expansive lake to the Sun Island, discover this sacred site with moon and sun temples and spellbinding scenery. Soak up the mythical aura of this true South American icon as you walk along flagstone paths to temple ruins set against a backdrop of picture-perfect snow-capped mountains.

Boats and tours to the Island of the sun leave from Copacabana, a colonial town on the Bolivian shore of Lake Titicaca. To find out how to travel by bus from La Paz to Copacabana, just click here.

Machu Picchu
The next stop in our spiritual tour needs no presentation. This ancient ruin is located high in Peru’s Andes Mountains, a feat of engineering performed by the Inca Empire in the 15th century. The site is home to many temples, shrines, and caves, and is most renowned for their advanced civil engineering and way the buildings portray astronomical formations. Climbing to Machu Picchu has been a journey of deep spirituality for people ever since the site was re-discovered two hundred years ago. Many sites in the area used for healing and connecting to ancient energies.

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Machu Picchu

The remote remains of this ancient Inca civilisation were hidden for around 400 years. As well as being a marvel of engineering, with stones so precisely shaped to fit together that they required no mortar, the complex contains multiple shrines, temples and carvings, some of which are clearly oriented to astronomical events.

In order to get to Machu Picchu, you must travel by train from Cusco. You can easily travel to Cusco from La Paz, and even get a direct bus to Cusco from Copacabana in comfortable buses.

Nazca
Our final destination in this imaginary spiritual tour is one of the greatest mysteries on this planet: the Nazca Lines, monumental drawings etched across 500sq km of the Pampa Colorada of southern Peru, in impeccably geometric lines.

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Nazca lines as seen from the sky

Since they can only be seen clearly from the sky, Peru’s sand-etched lines – some of which depict animals and others, geographical patterns – have led theorists to ask themselves  who they were originally intended for. Were they messages to the gods? Were they created by aliens? More recent research suggests that the lines were ritualistic in purpose, designed to be walked along, single file and deliberately, in a quest for spirituality and enlightenment. They could be anything from ceremonial sites for the gods of water, to an astronomical calendar.

No matter if you view from ground level or by plane, you’re certain to be awestruck. Contemplate the many theories for yourself as you marvel at the hundreds of geoglyphs from above. You can easily buy tickets to travel by bus from Cusco to Nazca by following this link.  Happy enlightenment!

The best Bolivian destinations for museum lovers

Museums are wonderful places that allow us to travel through time through physical objects, be they pieces of artwork or historical relics. In this time of staying behind closed doors, many of the best museums in the world have opened their collections to virtual visits, allowing their expositions to be enjoyed online.

This has been wonderful for museum lovers, but we cannot deny that being there is just different; breathing the air, seeing the light on the objects, listening while a specialized guide lets us in on all the secrets. Just like theater and dance need the presence of spectators to come alive, museums are complete only with the living presence of visitors.

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Colonial artwork at the National Museum of Art in La Paz

In this post, we tell you all about the best Bolivian destinations for you museum lovers, explaining how you can travel to each city from different points in the country and which are those museums you just cannot miss, so you can plan your trip for when lock-down is over.

La Paz

La Paz is the seat of government of Bolivia, a city of two million inhabitants, at an altitude of 3600 m above sea level. As one of the liveliest cities in the country, it has a large cultural and historical tradition, and a wide array of museums you just can´t miss. Here, we tell you about our favorites:

  • National Museum of Art: located in a majestic colonial house just a block away from the Palace of Government, the National Museum of Art takes you on a journey of Bolivian art from the times of the colony to today´s contemporary pieces, with work from the best artists like Gil Imaná and Gastón Hugalde, among others. The museum is under the administration of the Cultural Foundation of the Central Bank of Bolivia (FCBCB).
  • National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore: This museum is located only a few blocks away from the first, and is also under the administration of the FCBCB. Here, you will get to know the different artistic expressions of Bolivia´s indigenous peoples and its cultural and biological diversity, fromtextile art to feather clothes and ornaments. Make sure you don´t miss the impressive collection of ritual and festive masks. This is one of the most original museums you will see in Bolivia.
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The mask collection at the Museo Nacional de Etnografía y Folklore

You can travel to La Paz from Peru easily, through Puno, and make La Paz your first stop in Bolivia. You can also travel to La Paz from Chile, with direct bus trips from Arica or Iquique with bus companies that offer comfortable buses and a very good service. If you are in any other city in Bolivia, you can take a bus to La Paz very easily and at different schedules. All buses from other departments arrive at the Bus Terminal of La Paz, located on Peru Av.

Potosi

Potosi is a city of colonial architecture, with a very rich history and culture. It is key for understanding Bolivia´s history. It was declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 1987, due to it´s contribution to universal history and its architecture and art attractions. The city was founded on the foothills of the Cerro Rico de Potosi, literally a mountain of silver that provided funds for the Spanish Crown for centuries. At it´s summit, Potosi had more inhabitants than Paris. Today, the city has several museums that might interest you, but we bet this one will be your favorite:

  • Casa Nacional de la Moneda: It is said that, if you took all the silver mined from the Cerro Rico de Potosi during the spanish colony, you could build a bridge from America to Spain. Well, it was here, at the Casa Nacional de la Moneda, where silver coins were minted for the Spanish Colony. Visiting this museum will help you understand the relevance of Potosi in universal history, the way the coins were made, and the importance of our indigenous peoples and cultures.
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Icon of the Casa Nacional de la Moneda. Image by jo vanel from Pixabay

Potosi is a very easy city to travel to, with completely paved highways if you´re coming from La Paz, Villazón or Sucre. If you´re coming from La Paz, you can buy your bus tickets online here. The buses depart from the Bus Terminal of La Paz at 21:30 and arrive in Potosi early in the morning. If you come from Sucre, you can buy your tickets here online. The trip from Sucre to Potosi takes only 3 hours in normal buses.

Sucre

Sucre is a colonial city in the Bolivian valleys, the constitutional capital of the city, despite the seat of government being in La Paz. Known for its streets of white walls and houses with red tile rooftops, its churches and castles and… its beautiful museums. Birthplace of intelectuals, historians, political leaders and writers, it was on the streets of Sucre that the first cry for liberty came about in Latin America, in the 19th century.

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Interior – Casa de la Libertad
  • House of Liberty:  If you are interested in Latin American history, this is the museum for you. The house of liberty is the place where the Act of Independence of Alto peru was signed in 1825, establishing liberty from the Spanish Colony. Among its treasures is the original Act Of Independence of alto Peru, declared in 2019 as Memory of the World by the Committee  Comité Memory of World-Bolivia (MOW-Bolivia-UNESCO). It also has ancient portraits of the liberators Simón Bolívar, Antonio José de Sucre and José Ballivián, the tomb of captain Juana Azurduy, the first independent flag of South america and other relics.
  • Museum of Indigenous Art ASUR: Unique in it´s style, this museum is a must for those who appreciate and want to know more about the arts of indigenous peoples of Bolivia, specially centered around their textiles. It is said that the indigenous peoples of Tarabuco and the jalq’a, in the department of Chuquisaca, tell their stories and express their cultural identity in their intricate weavings. In this museum, you will see exquisitely woven pieces and you will aproach an understanding of the artistic and philosophic depth of these cultures. You also get to see and meet weavers as they work on their textiles!
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Jalka textile

Traveling to Sucre is easy from any main city in Bolivia, such as Santa Cruz or Cochabamba. All you have to do is buy your tickets online and show up at the bus station at least 30 minutes before the trip. Trips from Potosi to Sucre by bus are very frecuent, since the two cities are not far away and the highway that connects them is in very good shape.

We wish you a happy return to museums very soon!

 

The best Bolivian destinations for nature lovers

Lovers of the outdoors have been hit hard by the lock-down measures taken all over the world, their souls itching to get back on the trail, climb a mountain, explore a river in an unknown jungle, bathe in a pristine waterfall after a hike in the forest. Bolivia is one of the best countries in South America to travel to if you love ecotourism, nature and the outdoors, named in the New York Times as one of the places to visit in 2020.

In this post, we tell you all about the best places in Bolivia to travel to if you are looking for a post-lockdown immersion in the Great Outdoors.

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The Fort, Samaipata

Samaipata

Samaipata is a small town about three hours away from the city of Santa Cruz, on the foothills of the Amboro National Park, a natural reservation known for its biodiversity and amazing, contrasting landscapes. The town itself is very quaint and offers an array of restaurants and lodging to fit every taste and budget.

The town is rife with tourist agencies where you can book all kinds of experiences, from hiking to the waterfalls, to climbing up to the Condor´s Nest, to exploring the Amboro National Park or The Fort, an Incan archeological site that was named Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

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Amboro National Park (Ruta Verde Tours)

 

San Ignacio de Velasco

San Ignacio de Velasco is a town on the Chiquitos Missions Circuit in the department of Santa Cruz. It is one of the towns founded by Jesuit priests in colonial times, which have become famous for the blending of indigenous and western cultures, the architecture of its amazing churches, named Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, and traditions in music, dance and fabrication of classical instruments that are still alive today.

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Caiman in one of the rivers in Noel Kempf Mercado Park

Best of all, San Ignacio is the entry gate to the incredible Noel Kempf Mercado Park, a pristine natural reservation so off the beaten path that many travelers recommend it as the only one in South America where you can actually hike for days without meeting another soul. Incredible wildlife, waterfalls, mountains and jungle, all in one amazing destination.

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Wildlife is amazing at Noel Kempf Mercado Park

You can travel to San Ignacio de Velasco by train from Santa Cruz easily and afordably, online with the most reliable payment platforms, and book a tour to the Noel Kempf Mercado park from there.

Riberalta

Riberalta is a town on the departmento of Beni, a tropical region of Bolivia known for its rain forest tropical climate and many options for eco-tours through the tropical rivers and jungle. Riberalta is the place to go if you don´t flintch from tarantulas, like to see pink dolphins as well as alligators and will enjoy sleeping under a mosquitoe net.

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Riberalta, Bolivia. Image by Patrick Fransoo from Pixabay

Traveling to Riveralta is not as easy and affordable as the first two options, but very much worth it. To travel to Riberalta, you have two options; either do it bu bus or plane. To travel to Riberalta by plane, you will take a plane from one of the major Bolivan cities (La Paz, Cochabamba or Santa Cruz). It is unlikely that you will find a direct flight, so you will probably make a scale in Trinidad, the department´s capital, before arriving in Riberalta. It is even possible you will need to change planes, depending on where you are arriving from.

 If you choose to travel by bus, you can take one from the Bus Terminal of Santa Cruz or La Paz. Be aware that the highway conditions are very poor, making the trip very long, even though the actual distance between Riberalta and any major city is not that big (La Paz and Riberalta, for example, are separated by 922 km, but the trip takes about 30 hours). If you don´t mind a long bus trip, the views are gorgeous.

Meet you on the trail!

Traveling again after lock-down, part II

In our last post, we told you about some of the ways in which traveling will change once the measures taken to control the spread of covid-19 are reversed. Today, we are back to tell you about a few more changes you can expect, so you can begin planing your first gettaway after lock-down.

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Packing a suitcase will not be the same
  1. Packing a suitcase:

The health crisis the world is going through implies that a lot of emphasis has been put on personal hygiene and dissinfection, with recomendations that people should wash and their hands several times a day and takng measures to prevent contamination. For a person who is traveling, this probably means carrying alcohol in gel or any other type of hand sanitizer, wet wipes with dissinfecting components, even latex gloves and face masks. You will probably start packing these items in your suitcase, and airlines might have to allow passengers to carry liquids on board. It is also likely that you will be packing your favorite, fashion face masks so prevention doesn´t cramp your style. Facemasks have become an essensial item, and they are on they way to becoming a fashion statement, as well.

It is also likely that thermometers and fever medicine will also become indispensable carry-on items.

2. Documentation:

It is very likely that you will need more to travel than just your visa and passport in order to go abroad. At lest for a few months after the quarantene, you may need to carry some sort of sanitary ID stating you are immune, be it because you have been vaccinates, (once there is a vaccine) or because you have recovered from the virus. In the film Contagion, there was this wristband with a code bar stating the person´s sanitary status when crossing borders. Some thing like that may be rutine in the more technologicaly advanced countries.

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Hotels will offer confort and dissinfection protocols

3. Priorities when choosing a place to stay and how to travel:

When you plan your trip, you will have more than just confort and amenities in mind. Passengers and guests will want to know the health and hygiene protocols and practices of each transportation company and hotel: how often do they dissinfect the surfaces, with what chemicals, how do they control air quality, how they limit unnecesarry interaction with other guests and passengers. And this is exactly what service providers will begin to advertise to get more people to book with their company. For example, it is likely that companies such as Airbnb will see a fall in their reservations, as people choose to stay in hotels with established and standardized health and sanitary protocols.

4. Flexibilization of tickets:

The current health crisis caused many sudden borders closing and trips and flights being cancelled. When these measures let up in the future, it is likelly that transportation companies will be more flexible with the cancellation and change of tickets. This, in the understanding that there could be new surges in some countries, which could lead again to the sudden cancellation of trips and closing of borders. It may also be that passengers are less willing to make a trip if they have cold simptoms, even if it is not covid-19, and may prefer to change the date of the trip or cancell (traveling with  cold will not be socially acceptable for some time).

Thus, you will want to know the cancellation and change policies of every company before booking. When you buy your bus or train tickets online to travel around South America, for example, with Tickets Bolivia, you can cancel your tickets for a refund with 48 hours anticipation. You can also change the date or leave the date of the trip pending for an entire year at no extra cost.

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Facemask as fashion statement

At Tickets Bolivia, we will work with transportation companies so they meet all standards, and will inform our clients about the quality of their services. Our commitment is to provide all the information our clients need when planing their trips.

Meanwhile, lets stay connected! Follow us in Facebook to keep informed in real time about the re-opening of borders and routes in the next weeks.

Traveling again after lock-down

Just like social and commercial interaction, traveling will not be the same when the crisis caused by covid-19 passes. We will and will not go back to “normal”.

The world is going through a crisis such as we haven´t seen in our lifetimes; closed borders in every continent, hundreds of thousands of cancelled trips, passengers stuck abroad without a way to come home and many stimied plans. This, without mentioning the thousands of lives lost and the fear and anxiety many of us are feeling. Just remember, as the saying goes, this too, shall pass.

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Closed borders in Colombia

No matter what country we are living in, the lock-down imposed to control the spread of covid-19, the situation demands that we postpone plans and dreams in order to stay at home to keep the curve of illness at sustainable levels. We will come out of this, of course, and we will travel again, to feel the joy of looking out a train window, a incredible landscape flowing by, or the vertigo of an airplane takeoff, the wonder of steping into a new city for the first time. We will travel again, but some things won´t be the same.

In this post, we tell you about three of many thigs that will probably will change in the way we travel in the near future.

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Tour bus in La Paz
  • We will travel more within our own country

It is very likely that national tourism and travel will be the first to recover when lock-down measures are lifted, since national travel will not have to deal with national borders,  which may still be difficult to cross for many months.

Probably, we will have to take this opportunity to travel within our countries, not only due to sanitary restrictions that will exist for international travel, but also to help recover the economy of national tourism and travel, which will have been strongly hit by the crisis. It will be an opportunity to get to know these tourist destinations in your country that you have been neglecting.

  • We will travel more by land

Airlines are amont the industries that will be most hit by this sanitary crisis and the masures to contain it. Once they are able to operate again, they will probably have to fly with emptier seats (no more middle seats for a while) in order to limit passenger interaction. This might cause a significant increase in prices. Not to mention the husstle at airports; if lines were tortuous before, can you imagine when you add sanitary checks?

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Ferroviaria Andina

On the other hand, one of the effects of this crisis, which has stopped many industries is the recovery of ecosystems and the decrease in pollution and contamination of the environment. When we get out of this crisis, it will be hard to go back to “normal” with no awareness of how our “normal” affects the earth and, eventually, our hability to live on it. We will probably be more concious than ever of our carbon footprint and the effecto on the environment of the desitions we make when traveling.

Therefore, it is likely we will choose train travel more often, since it is the most eco-efficient way to go) instead of planes for longer trips, whenever possible. We will likely choose bus or train for shorter, national trips as well, since they have a much lower rate of pollution per passenger than air travel.

  •  We will buy our tickets online

Like in many other socia and comertial interactions, traveler´s will chose more often to avoid handling chash, not out of a fear of getting robbed, but out of  a fear of holding this object that changes hands hundreds of times and may be a hard-to-sterilize source of contamination.

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Buying online (Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay )

Also, buying ht etickets over the Internet allows you to avoid crowded places, such as land terminals, which will also protect you agains the propagation of infectious deseases. You can buy online bus and train tickets for Bolivia, Chile and Peru easily and safely.

So, despite the fact that many things will probably change in the mid-term, such as where we choose to travel and by what means, and how we purchase tickets, we are certain we will travel again, in a more sustainable way than before.

Samaipata; Bolivia’s hidden treasure

Samaipata is one of the best kept secrets of the Bolivian low-lands. This little town two hours away from the city of Santa Cruz has become very popular in the last years among both national and international tourists due to its warm climate year-round, diversity of  landscapes and restaurants, with an array of cultural and tourist activities to choose from. One of its main attractions is how close it is to the Samaipata Fort, a pre-colonial arqueological site where different cultures, such as the Chané and Inca come together, declared Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. In this blog, we’ll tell you all about:

  • What makes Samaipata an amazing tourist destination
  • How to travel to Samaipata easily from any part of Bolivia

You can travel to Samaipata by bus easily from Bolivia’s main cities (Santa Cruz, Sucre, Cochabamba and La Paz) though mostly paved highways and different degrees of confort; from confortable lie-flat buses to shared cabs and vans. The prices vary, as well, and there is an option for every budget. 

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View of the town

Traveling by bus from La Paz to Samaipata

The most direct wat to travel to Samaipata from La Paz is to take a bus to Sucre, and from there, take another bus that leaves you in Samaipata. The buses from La Paz to Sucre leave every day from the Bus terminal of La Paz

The trip from La Paz to Sucre takes between 10 and 12 hours, depending on wether the bus travels via Potosi or Ravelo (the trip via Ravelo is shorter). Either way, the buses leave at 19:30 and arrive in Sucre early the next morning at the Bus terminal of Sucre

Once in Sucre, you can enjoy the city, its colonial architecture, places of interest and unique cuisine, until your bus leaves for Samaipata at 18:30.

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Sunset in Sucre

Travel by bus from Sucre to Samaipata

The bus from Sucre to Samaipata leave at 18:30 and the trip takes around 10 hours, traveling through an almost completelly paved highway. The bus company that works this route is El Mexicano, a transportation company that has modern buses and certified drivers.  

The buses from Sucre to Samaipata leave at 18:30 and arrive in Samaipata at 4:30 am. They park on Main Street, since the town does not have a proper bus terminal. The passengers can walk from there to the main square or to their hotel. The town is perfectly safe at all hours.  


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Exploring the Fort of Samaipata

Travel by bus from Cochabamba to Samaipata

The most direct way to travel by bus from Cochabamba to Samaipata is to take a bus to Santa Cruz, traveling through the old highway which crosses Samaipata. These buses don’t leave from the Cochabamba Bus Terminal, but rather from the corner of 6 de Agosto St and República St.

Information about the trip:

  • Departure: 7:30 am
  • Duration: 11.5 horas
  • Arrival: 19:00.

Another way of making this trip is to take a bus from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz  and, from there, travel to Samaipata. The buses leave from the Bus Terminal of Cochabamba, located on the corner of Ayacucho and Tarata St. (see map). 

Terminal de buses de Cochabamba

Travel by bus from Santa Cruz to Samaipata

There are two options to travel by bus from Santa Cruz to Samaipata: 

Option 1:

Shared cabs (5 passengers) with the company Expreso Samaipata. Cars leave from Omar Chavez Ortiz Av, #1147. The trip takes 2- hours and the price is 30 Bs per person. 

Option 2:

Shared vans (minibuses), with the company Cooperativa de Transporte El Fuerte. The vans leave from Sgundo Anillo Av Grigota. The trip takes between 2 and 4 hours and the price is 30 Bs. per passenger. 

 

Take into account that the cabs and vans wait to fill up before leaving, so there are no fixed departure times. The duration of the trip varies according to the state of the roads, and can take longer during rain season (November-February). 

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Treehouse offered as lodging in Samaipata.

Tourist information about Samaipata

Located at 120 km southwest of Santa Cruz, Samaipata has an average temperature of 23 degrees and the town has a sunny climate most of the year. The town lies at 1650 m above sea level, and there are many tourist agencies that offer visits and tours  for the following destinations:

  • Amboro National Park. This is one of the most diverse national parks in Bolivia, with an impressive array of wildlife including jaguars, mears and pumas. The park is the home of more than 900 bird species. In order to visit, you must hire a tour, which can be arranged with one of the tour agencies in town. The cost is between 100 and 320 Bs, depending on the agency and group size. 
  • El Fuerte: The fort of Samaipata is an archeological site located on top of a mountain at 1950 meters above sea level. The site had ceremonial, religious, bellic and residencial uses during the Inca Empire and is the second most popular archeological site in Bolivia, after the Tihuanacu ruins. This enormous complez includes a square, places for the observation of stars, residencies and a gigantic engraved stone which bears religious figures and symbols. This site this site was pronounced Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.  
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The gigantic engraved stone of Samaipata
  • The caves: Not actually caves, but a series of sascades in a beautiful area of exuberant nature and a cool natural pool surrounded by a white-sanded beach where you can spend the afternoon bathing, picking oranges, enjoying the view and hiking to the nearby mountain forests
  • Condors nest: The hike to Condors Nest takes all day; traveling by car, to the nearest point, then the spectacular hike up the mountain, which is considered an alternative to Colca Canion in Peru. The condors appear around mid day. It’s best to schedule this tour in clear/sky days, to increase chances of seeing condors.   

We hope this information is useful so you can plan your trip by bus to Samaipata from any city in Bolivia. Have a nice trip!

Bolivia for foodies; street-food

Bolivia is a country of incredible diversity: from highlands and salt flats at 4000 meters above sea level, the only place where Royal Quinoa can be grown and potato species are counted in the hundreds, to the tropics where hundreds of species of fruits and vegetables thrive; from the traditions of indigenous ingredients and preparations to the influence of French, Spanish and German immigrants.      

Despite its rich culinary heritage, Bolivia has been slow in standing out as a culinary tourist destination. The truth is, industries such as wine, beer, coffee and chocolate have shown incredible development in the last decades, with many brands winning several international awards. Gourmet restaurants have also flourished in the main cities, such as La Paz and Santa Cruz, complementing the vibrant street-food scene across the country. The best part? Eating in Bolivia is cheaper than anywhere else in the region, so you can really have a foodie feast on a budget.  

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Salteñas

In this post, we imagine a Bolivia street food tour around the country´s best cities to eat, telling you about the street-foods you can´t miss and how to eat them safely. Check out next week’s posts in this series for a full report about gourmet food and restaurants in Bolivia. Let´s get started!

Street food in Bolivia is delicious, varied and easy on the wallet. Nevertheless, as a tourist, you should be careful to eat only in places where cleanliness and food safety is guaranteed. Also, some dishes are spicy and others come with spicy sauces, so be careful if you can’t hold your chili. 

Any self-respecting foodie in a Bolivia street-food tour should start in La Paz, the seat of government in Bolivia, a city located at 3,600 meters above sea level where you can taste the following dishes:

 

Salteñas 

These baked pockets of goodness are originally from Argentina and became very popular first in Sucre and Potosi, since their size and shape made them perfect for taking to the mines as a hearty lunch. But it was in La Paz that their current recipe was perfected, making them the juicy, meaty, somewhat spicy, golden-crusted dish they are today. Here is the practical info you need to know:

  • Although the original salteña is stuffed with red meat, salteñas now come with a variety of stuffings, like pork and chicken. 
  • As opposed to many other street-foods in Bolivia, some salteñerías offer vegetarian salteñas, so you can enjoy them even if meats are not part of your diet.
  • You can always spot a person eating salteñas for the first time, from the way the juice splatters all over their clothes. If you don’t want half your food to end up on your shirt, check out this demonstrative video
  • Though the best are in La Paz, you can also find salteñas in Sucre, Cochabamba and Potosi, in the mornings, between 10:00 and 14:00. 
  • If you want to avoid getting sick, don’t buy them from food carts on the street. Stick to salteñerias (special restaurants that sell salteñas). The price should be between 6.5 and 8.0 Bolivianos (around one US Dollar)
  • The best restaurants are Salteñas Chuquisaqueñas (La Paz), La Paceña (La Paz), El Patio (Sucre), and Los Castores (Cochabamba)  

Other Bolivian street foods you must try in La Paz are:

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Sandwich de chola

  • Sandwich de Chola: a traditional sandwich made from pork. Though you can get it at many street-cars around the city, go to the Las Cholas park for the freshest sandwich.

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Tucumanas

  • Tucumanas: Similar to Salteñas, these are fried, not baked, and come with a variety of sauces to garnish. Remember to never eat them from street cars, only restaurants. Tucumanas del Prado are the most popular and tasty.  

From La Paz, you can take a bus to Cochabamba for the next stop in your foodie Bolivia street food tour. Cochabamba is a city in the heart of Bolivian valleys, located at an altitude of 2,600 meters above sea level. The city is the third largest in Bolivia, but the unchallenged capital of eating, with many traditional dishes and a culture of eating abundantly. Here are the street foods you must try:

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Grilling anticuchos

Anticuchos:

Anticuchos are a very traditional street-food in Bolivia and Peru, with the vendors coming out at around 7 pm to perform the spectacle of igniting their grills and starting to cook the meat and potatoes in metal skewers. In Peru, the meat can be anything from beef to seafood. In Bolivia, anticuchos are made only from thinly sliced beef heart. The meat and potatoes are first marinated in spices, then grilled in skewers and finally covered in a creamy sauce made from yellow chili and peanuts. Here is all the information you need:

  • Don´t be turned off by the heart meat. When thinly sliced and well-cooked, the meat becomes incredibly tasty and with great texture. Do make sure you ask your vendor to cook the meat well, as this improves the texture and is also safest on your stomach. 
  • There is almost no choice but to eat anticuchos from street cars, as restaurants that offer this dish are almost non-existent. For a really traditional place in La Paz go to Las Velas, a market that specializes in anticuchos. In Cochabamba, go to Las Islas. 
  • Vegan anticucho options are currently few. Some vegetarian restaurants offer anticuchos from vegetable meats, such as seitan, which taste incredibly good. In La Paz, Try La Ventanita In Cochabamba, your best bet is Nina Café Bistró Vegetariano.
  • Anticuchos are a staple of nightlife, and anticucheras are rife on the streets of Cochabamba and La Paz from 7 pm to 4 am on weekends. 
  • Expect to pay between 10 and 12 Bolivianos for a portion. The portions are not large, just the meat that fits in a mid-size skewer and two small potatoes. If you´re hungry, you will probably need two. Or three. 
  • The creamy, yellow sauce that anticuchos are covered in is spicy. Just how spicy varies, so you may want a taste of it before your food gets covered in it. Also, obviously, steer CLEAR of it if you have a peanut allergy. 

Other street-food to try in Cochabamba:

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Trancapecho sandwich

  • Trancapecho: literally means “stuck in your chest”, this sandwich has rice, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoe, a fried egg and a thin piece of beef or chicken 

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Huminta

  • Humintas: Quite similar to tamales, humintas are a dough made from ground corn mixed with anise seed and cheese, wrapped in corn leaves and either boiled or baked to a creamy goodness.  

The next stop in our foodie Bolivia street food tour is Santa Cruz. You can easily take a bus from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz, the capital of the Bolivian lowlands. Here are the street-foods in Santa Cruz you need to try:

Sonso and cuñape

Street food in the low-lands, such as Santa Cruz, is dominated by cheesy pastries made with yucca, sold in street-cars and bakeries. They are baked (or grilled) fresh every day and offered between 3 pm and 7 pm, so you can eat them with a cup of coffee. More details coming right up:

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Grilling sonso over charcoals

  • Sonso is a mixture of mashed yucca, cheese and butter, which can be baked or grilled in wood skewers over hot coals in street cars. The taste and texture are absolutely sublime

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Cuñapé just out of the oven

  • Cuñape is a similar pastry, made not from mashed yucca but from yucca flour mixed with cheese and butter, and baked in special ovens
  • Happily for vegetarians, no meat goes into these!
  • You can expect to pay around 5 Bolivianos for a portion on the street. Some upscale bakeries and coffee shops offer them, as well, at a slightly higher price. 
  • Although, traditionally, these foods come from Santa Cruz, you will be able to find them at some coffee shops and bakeries in La Paz, Sucre and Cochabamba, as well. 

Other street food in Bolivia you can´t miss, by city:

  • Sucre: You can´t leave without trying the sausage. The best place is in Choricería 7 lunares. Also, you can´t miss the nation-famous Sandra´s Ice Cream you can buy at El Parque. Really, the best ice cream you will eat in Bolivia.   

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Api and pastry

  • Oruro: Api with pastel is a traditional meal that is originally from Oruro, but that you can enjoy in La Paz, Sucre, Cochabamba and Potosí, as well. Api is a sweet, hot beverage made from the flour of purple corn, and it comes with a pastry made from fried wheat flour and cheese. In cold weather, nothing gets you warmer. 

We hope the information is useful. Happy traveling and tasty eating!

The ultimate travel-safely-through-Bolivia guide 2020

We get it. When you’re planning a trip abroad, you want to know what to expect regarding safety. Is terrorism a problem? Could I be kidnapped? Might I be pick-pocketed or robbed at gunpoint? Should I steer clear of specific places? Can I drink the tap water?

We got you covered. We live here in Bolivia, so we can give you first-hand information regarding all-things-safety in this country. And, because we don´t want you to just take our word for it, we will share with you links to official international reports as well. This way, at the end of this post you will have a clear picture of what to do and not do in order to travel safely through Bolivia in 2020. We admit, it’s a little long, but very thorough. Feel free to just read the parts you´re most concerned about, we won’t take offense. 

Uyuni Salt Flats during the rainy season
Dusk at the Uyuni Salt Flats

A little context

So, Bolivia is a pretty safe country for locals and tourists alike. With a total population of 10 million people, its largest cities (La Paz and Santa Cruz) have no more than 2 million inhabitants each, meaning that, under normal conditions, they don’t have the crime rates of larger cities like Sao Paulo or Lima or Bogotá. 

Nevertheless, the country went through a rough couple of months in October and November of last year after accusations that the national election had been rigged to favor then-president Evo Morales. 21 days of protests followed, resulting in the president’s resignation. This led to another two weeks of social conflict with 30 protesters losing their lives. The country has since entered a period of pacification, and the transitional government has called elections for the third of May. There have been absolutely no violent protests nor significant violence in the country since November, 2019. Nevertheless, tourism has seen a steep decline, which is sadly having a negative impact on the economy.    

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Traditional dances in the streets of La Paz

Is Bolivia a dangerous country?

In terms of 2019’s Global Peace Index, Bolivia ranks 85 out of 163 countries. This is moderate, and it means tourists should exercise common sense when visiting, but no extreme measures need to be taken to stay safe. For us locals, crime rates  are mostly related to property theft and domestic or personal disputes. There is some gang violence in certain neighborhoods in the larger cities, but this has never had an effect on tourists or visitors. In general, Bolivia ranks medium in terms of danger, according to most of the reports we could find. Don´t take our word for it, check out this report by World Population Review, showing Bolivia is a safer country than the United States, for example, and this this other safety report by Atlas And Boots.  

Be prepared to travel safely through Bolivia

In order to travel safely through any country, you must exercise caution and know what to expect. We found a cool guide of Things Not To Do in Bolivia in order to have a better tourist experience, and think you might find it useful. As for us, we have prepared a list of actual events that you might encounter while traveling through Bolivia, from food poisoning to road blockades (nope, no terrorism or hostage situations), and how to avoid and cope with them.

Bolivian Taxi, La Paz
Inside a minibus in La Paz

Pick-pocketing and theft:

  • Petty theft and stolen items: Bolivia, like any country that struggles with poverty, has it´s share of thieves and pickpockets. In order to avoid being separated from your belongings, keep your valuables close, especially in Santa Cruz and La Paz. If at a hotel or hostel, leave your valuables in a safe. Don´t walk around the street with your cellphone or other valuables in sight, and try not to use ATMs at night or in deserted places. 
  • Scams: Watch out for fake police officers claiming they want to check your passport or search you for any reason. Real police officers are always in uniform, and they DO NOT carry out random searches of tourists. In any case, make sure you travel with your passport complete with visa stamps and have a photocopy of it with you at all times. Do not pick up large amounts of money you find on the street, it may be part of a common, intricate scam where you end up handing over your wallet to the thief. You won’t be hurt, but you’ll feel pretty foolish. 

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Downhill biking in Los Yungas, La Paz

Drugs: 

  • Drugs: Not judging how you choose to entertain yourself, but in Bolivia, if you get involved in cocaine and get caught, the minimum sentence is 8 years and you might wait in jail for more than two years just waiting for a trial. Why risk it? Obviously, do not leave your luggage unattended in airports, train stations and bus terminals to avoid getting stuff planted.
  • It’s legal for farmers to grow coca leaf in Bolivia, but if you´re traveling around areas where coca leaf is grown, such as Los Yungas and the Chapare region, be careful taking pictures. Farmers may not like it.

Health issues: 

  • Food: Many tourists from first-world countries suffer some kind of food poisoning when traveling around Bolivia from eating street-food. So, in general, you shouldn’t taste the delicious, spicy, juicy street-food in Bolivia (which is a shame but, you know, health first and all). Make sure you eat at restaurants that display their sanitary certifications and look clean. For extra caution, avoid eating any raw vegetables and peel all your fruit. And wash your hands! But we’re sure we don’t have to tell you that. 

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Salteñas are a must, just don´t eat them from the street

  • Tap water: While the tap water in urban areas is supposed to be potable, and many locals actually do drink it, it’s really better not to risk it as a tourist. So, drink boiled water or bottled water only. You can brush your teeth and wash vegetables with tap water in urban areas at no risk, but if in the countryside, wash your teeth with bottled water, too. 
  • Altitude sickness: Many of Bolivia’s most popular tourist attractions, like the Uyuni Salt Flats, Potosi, Sucre, La Paz, and Lake Titicaca lie at altitudes between 2,500 and 5000 meters above sea level, so yes, altitude sickness is something you must prepare for. Thankfully, you can do that just by following a couple of good tips. Check out this thorough report on how to cope with altitude sickness in order to travel through Bolivia safely without missing out on any of its great destinations.    

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Traveling by cable-car in La Paz, at 3,600 meters above sea level

  • Tour safety: Make sure you research your tour agency beforehand. Uyuni Salt Flat, trekking, rivers, mine tours, jungle tours, Bolivia offers some great adventure opportunities, but please always make sure the agency meets international safety standards. Many agencies might offer better prices at a cost to safety. So, again, safety first, right? Check out this listing of many certified tour options. Also, be responsible yourself. For example, don´t get wasted the night before a downhill biking tour down the Death Road if you would rather not break an arm. 
  • Diseases: If traveling around tropical areas of Bolivia and low-lands, make sure to cover up against mosquitoes with long sleeves and pants, and bring repellent. Malaria and dengue fever are a risk, especially during the rainy season, between November and February. 

Sajama National Park, Bolivia
Highway to the Sahama in Oruro

Transportation issues:

  • Road blocks: Roadblocks are somewhat common in Bolivia. The people in many rural communities and even in some cities block the roads and highways in protest. Mostly, you can know at least a day beforehand when a road will be blocked to take alternative measures, but it may happen that the blockade is upon you without warning. If this happens, you may have to walk to the point of blockade in order to take a cab or bike to your final destination. Or, the bus you travel on may take an alternative route, which could delay your time of arrival. How to cope? First, stay informed of possible road blockades by watching news and asking around. You can check out this map, which is updated constantly, and shows all Bolivian highways and marks road blockades. Secondly, travel with water and snacks, and enough warm clothes to deal with any situation. Wear comfortable shoes in case you have to walk long distances. Carry cash with you in case you have to pay for a cab or other transportation. And book your connecting buses and flights with enough time in between, so in the case of unforeseen circumstances you don´t miss your next flight or bus: at least four hours, just to be safe. 

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The trains of FCA take you from Oruro to Uyuni

  • Peaceful (but annoying) protests: Protests are common in the cities of Bolivia, but especially La Paz. They are usually sit-ins or marches through the city´s main streets and can block traffic for about an hour. Violence is not common during such protests, but it is best to avoid them. In case you get stuck in traffic due to a protest, be patient. You can either get out and walk the rest of the way, or stay in the car and wait it out. But if you need to catch a bus or plane, remember to leave with enough time to make it. A protest can add one or two hours to your commuting time. 
  • Natural disasters: No earthquakes or snowstorms in Bolivia, no hurricanes or tornadoes, but rainy season between November and February means flooding, landslides and road washouts, which could mean delays when traveling by land and even airplane. Traveling by land, you could get stuck overnight behind a landslide so, again, stay informed regarding transit and always travel with enough food, water and warm clothes. 
  • Local transportation: If you want to take a cab, call it from your hotel, or take official cabs from airports and bus terminals, which clearly display their phone number and the company they belong to. Try not to take cabs from the street, and never take a cab that does not display the name of the company and phone number overhead. When using a minibus (vans with multiple passengers) or city bus, make sure you don’t get distracted, as pickpockets love to, well, pick your pockets in these vehicles.

la paz bus terminal
Bus terminal in La Paz

  • Terminals and train stations: Always and in any country, be extra careful at transport hubs. You are most vulnerable when carrying all your belongings with you. Don´t get distracted by people offering to help with your luggage or ask you for directions. And don´t leave your stuff unattended. We think it’s helpful to know what to expect. Here is a page where you can find the addresses and description of most bus and train stations in Bolivia, including phone numbers. 
  • Traveling by bus: Traveling by bus is safe in Bolivia, but common sense must be used. To avoid things getting stolen, which is rare but can happen, don´t put a laptop or other valuables in the overhead bin if its a long trip and you’ll fall asleep. Valuables should always be kept on you when traveling by bus. Nobody steals luggage from the luggage compartment in buses, so relax, as long as you have a ticket for the luggage you left in there, it should be safe. There is also no risk of buses being robbed on the highway. The most exciting thing that can happen to you on a bus trip in Bolivia is a flat tire or a road blockade (see above). Nevertheless, try to buy your tickets from good, responsible, experienced bus companies, which are sure to keep their buses in good working conditions. Informal or cheaper bus companies might not make sure their drivers are rested and prepared for driving long distances, may not hire two drivers to take turns driving, ensuring safety, and the maintenance to their buses might not be enough to ensure a good trip. Check out this link to buy tickets in advance and check out the best bus and train companies in order to travel safely through Bolivia by land.

We hope this information was useful. Have a safe trip and enjoy Bolivia!