Bolivia

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Flag of Bolivia Bolivia
Information
Language: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
Capital: La Paz
Population: 9,119,152
Currency: Boliviano (BOB)
Paved roads: 10–20%
Hitchability: <rating country='bo' />
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<map lat='-16.5' lng='-64' zoom='5' view='0' height='350'/>

Bolivia is a country in South America.

Although it is not uncommon to see a family on the side of the road waiting for a truck to pick them up for local travelling, overall the hitching isn't very good. The roads are in very bad condition (something like 10–20% of roads in Bolivia are paved, which can be very scary in the rainy season!), they wind up and down the Andes into hairpin bends at 4,000m, are wide enough for one truck or bus (so you want to be sure the person you've just gotten a ride with knows how to drive!) and are generally pretty frightening. If just going for a few kilometres, it is advisable, but often you are picked up in a truck with many people and sometimes even livestock, are asked to pay maybe 5 Bolivianos (0.50€) for 100 km and in the long run, you're better off taking the bus (which is extremely cheap, but not quite as cheap). Sometimes hitching will work in Bolivia, but not many people have private cars and often the only wheels around are collectivos or buses (remember: it's not impossible to hitch buses. Good-humouredness, quick making friends etc).

You can hitchhike in Bolivia from the tranca, the place where they want toll from the vehicles, it's always cheaper than the bus and sometimes you might go for free. Just negotiate. It's great to see the countryside from the back of a truck; you should have a warm blanket or a sleeping bag on you when you travel like that.

When you're in Bolivia, it really depends on the region when you're hitchhiking.

Western Bolivia

Including all parts of the the Andes and the altiplano, cities of La Paz, Oruro, Uyuni, Sucre

The tiny dirt roads winding in and out of the Andes are in western Bolivia, and the hitching can actually be quite good on them... if you know where to stand. Don't try to stand at the crossings of two roads. Start walking in the direction you're headed, until you're pretty far from anything. Some Bolivians who maybe wouldn't have stopped for you at the crossing may stop for you out in the boonies of the Bolivian mountains. The Bolivian truckers will oftentimes toss you into the back of their cattle truck; make sure you've got something soft to lie on, because the mountian roads are consistently terrible and the trucks almost never have anything even closely resembling shocks. If you're leaving the mountians, be prepared for a very long ride. themodernnomad spent about 3 days getting from Sucre to Vallegrande (roughly 400 kilometres), in a forty year old semi truck that got four flat tires en route.

Southeastern Bolivia

Including Santa Cruz de la Sierra and surrounding areas to the border of Paraguay.

Southeastern Bolivia usually means easier and less miserable rides; the climate is subtropical and warm, and if you've been spending a lot of time in the altiplano, will be an extremely welcome break from the cold. The roads are a little better, and parts of Santa Cruz are nicer than some Chilean and Argentine cities. Free rides are a little more difficult, but if you wait long enough, someone will give you a free lift. The situation is uaually this: Out of ten public transportation vehicles that stop for you, one will take you for free. Fortunately, there are loads of public transportation vehicles in Bolivia, and it takes about 45 minutes for ten to stop for you. Santa Cruz is the richest city in Bolivia and its roads are full of 4x4s and flashy imported cars. Most of those don't seem to venture out of the city, though, and a good percentage has been purchased with drug money. Use your judgment.

Northern Bolivia

Amazonas, including Trinidad, Guyaramerìn, Riberalta, and Rurrenabaque

Perhaps the easiest area to hitchhike, the tropical Bolivian Amazon is crawling with tiny 2-stroke motorcycles and mopeds. They will usually pick you up if they're not loaded down with 4 or 5 people already. Don't bother with the thumb; just wave them down. There are many 'mototaxis' who will want to charge you, but if you find a private citizen, you can get a free lift. A mototaxi may even take you for free if you ask nicely. The climate is sweltering and humid all year around. Bring sunscreen and lots of water.

File:Mamorèfreighter.jpg
Typical Bolivian gasoline freighter on the Riò Mamorè, Beni department, Bolivia

The roads in northern Bolivia are almost always made of red Amazonian dirt, and are hell in the rainy season. This is why it can sometimes be preferable to travel by river. The easiest route to take by river is Trinidad to Guyaramerìn, along the river Mamorè. You will have a hard time finding free passage, but what you can do is work for your trip; gasoline barges and river freighters are always in need of a few extra hands, and many of the capitans will take you in exchange for a little manual labour.

File:Patrickdepthfinder.jpg
themodernnomad searching for the bottom of the river with a stick; if he struck bottom, he had to immediately inform the capitan to change course or risk running aground and being yelled at

The type of work you do will vary depending on the season; themodernnomad worked for a few weeks in the dry season as a 'human depth finder' with a large stick. The task was to make sure the river was deep enough for the boat to pass since sophisticated equipment such as depth finders are few and far between in Bolivia. You also may have to hose down gas barges to keep them cool, fish, refill 55 gallon drums of diesel fuel, and cook.

Borders

If you're anything but a U.S. citizen, entry and exit to Bolivia will be no problem whatsoever (even though some officials still try and extort bribes from travellers). However, if you are a U.S. citizen, you must pay a minumum of US$50 to enter the country for 3 months. They are serious about this; in 2010, themodernnomad was almost deported for entering the country without first getting a visa.

Cities

Experiences

Altough I found the hitching difficult, I crossed Bolivia for a total of about $10, which I made playing the harmonica on the streets. Bolivians are certain collaborators, but haven't always the means.-k

I hitchhiked around Bolivia for 3 months; I entered the country with $400 chilean pesos (about US $0.70) and left it with three Bolivianos and a sunburn. The hitchhiking is medium to good, depending on the region, the people are extremely friendly, and the country is easily the cheapest in South America -themodernnomad

Applications-office.png This article is a stub. This means that the information available to us is obviously insufficient. In these places little information is available or the description is severely outdated. If you have been there, whether hitchhiking, for travel or as part of an organized tour − be sure to extend this article!