Bolivia is a country of opposites: high altitudes and deep rivers, salt flats and rocky mountains, scorching heat and freezing lows. It’s home to many incredible world famous landmarks, including the Amazon Jungle and the Andes, and is close enough to renowned Incan site, Machu Picchu, that many tour companies offer trips there.
With so many opportunities for exciting and diverse adventures, deciding to take a trip to Bolivia is by no means a difficult decision. The problem arises, however, when deciding what to pack! The turbulent terrain and varying climates means getting stuck with the wrong equipment could be a disaster. Fortunately, this list covers five essential items that your trip would be a nightmare without, meaning you can travel with confidence and enjoy your adventure.
Many people assume that heading to places near the equator automatically guarantees hot weather wherever you ago. Although the sun is common in Bolivia, it also has the potentially to become very cold, very quickly. The altitudes of certain popular excursions, such as the Salar De Uyuni or Death Road, are known for their icy winds. Getting caught unprepared could result in a ruined experience, at best, and some serious health complications at worst.
The drastic change in climate means that the best way to overcome it is by packing many layers. A thermal top or trousers can be slipped on under your regular clothes for some extra warmth when it gets nippy and taking several jumpers, coats or cardigans means you can take things on or off depending on the temperature. You might also want to consider hats and gloves to keep your extremities toasty and avoid risking getting ill.
Particularly in the summer months, ranging from October to March, the average rainfall is extremely high. Although this enhances many experiences—the salt flats are much more reflective when wet, for example—it also causes a massive inconvenience for unprepared travellers. Although getting soaked through in the heat is easily remedied, the cold nights and chillier climate higher into the mountains means that getting caught in the rain could be a disaster.
There are several options you can consider. While an umbrella might be your usual go-to to protect you from the rain and will work perfectly if you’re visiting towns and cities such as La Paz, it might not be the best option for mountain or jungle treks. Chose a lightweight waterproof jacket that can easily be packed away in your bag for convenience. Opting for a windproof option will also be great protection from the cold chills higher up.
No matter what excursion you are planning to go on, the likelihood of you having to do a fair bit of walking is pretty high. There are uncountable amazing treks all around this picturesque country, so missing out because you failed to prepare would be heartbreaking for any traveller. Deciding which pair of shoes you prefer for trips like these is mainly down to personal preference; however, there are a few common elements everyone must consider when choosing.
First, sturdy shoes that won’t break or tear and offer your feet a proficient level of protection from loose rocks or potential tripping hazards are essential. It’s also recommended to choose footwear with higher ankle support to protect you from going over on your foot and damaging the joint. In terms of material, traditional leather boots can be very hot and heavy in the varying climate; it’s better to stick to lightweight breathable shoes to ensure comfort throughout your adventure. There are many great brands of walking shoes and boots available, so do your research and find the best for you!
Taking technology on your travels is a long-standing issue of debate. Many years ago, backpackers would have happily set off with a disposable camera in their pockets and nothing else. However, the modern world has changed the way we view electronics and they are becoming more essential than ever before.
If you’re planning an adventure holiday in Bolivia, then you don’t want to be carting round cumbersome laptops and cameras. A smartphone is easy to use and store and can be hidden in pockets to avoid theft. You can take photos, contact loved ones back home, search things to do and even ring for help in the case of an emergency.
Although WiFi in Bolivia is few and far between, there are some spots where it can be accessed so having a phone is super handy! However, for any traveller, it’s always worth having a Virtual Private Network installed if you take your device abroad. Not only does it allow you to bypass blocked sites such as Netflix and certain social media platforms, it also protects you and your data from identity theft or other malicious hacks when using insecure WiFi networks.
It’s also worth noting that Bolivia uses 220-volt outlets—compared to the 120 volts in the states—so you might need to invest in a voltage converter to avoid blowing your phones while it’s on charge.
The last point on our list covers two items. This is because both of them, however small and simple, are equally essential to ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable trip. Sunglasses might seem like an obvious choice for anyone going away to a hot country. While most people will happily wear them, some dislike the feeling of them on the face or the skewing of vision that they sometimes cause. It might be easy to avoid them, and opt for a shady sunhat instead, in many countries, this is not a wise choice for Bolivia. Particularly in the salt flats, the sun is very reflective and can easily damage the retina. Even if this is the only time you wear them, they’re an essential item to have.
Similarly, mosquitos’ quickly become a very wearing problem, particularly if you’re planning to hike in the jungle. Alongside the risk of disease, the constant itch that accompanies falling victim to a bite is frustrating and can seriously affect your enjoyment of the experience. Pack both things away in a handy little travel case, and you’ll be glad you did once you find yourself in either of these situations.
Visiting Bolivia is a truly unique experience, and there are so many great adventures to be had. While packing for such an epic trip may seem overwhelming to some, by ensuring you have the most essential items, you can never go wrong. If you feel there’s something missing from this list, please leave a comment below and share your ideas with fellow travellers!
We would like to thank Jess Signet for sharing this blog post with. Find more of her excellent blogs on www.tripelio.com.