Common Ailments -- Travelers to Bolivia should be very careful about contracting food-borne illnesses. Always drink bottled water. Never drink beverages with ice, unless you are sure that the water for the ice has been previously boiled. Be very careful about eating food purchased from street vendors. I recommend taking a vitamin such as super bromelain, which helps aid in the digestion of parasites.

Because most of the popular tourist attractions in Bolivia are at an altitude of more than 2,500m (8,200 ft.), altitude sickness can be a serious problem. Common symptoms include headaches, nausea, sleeplessness, and a tendency to tire easily. The most common remedies include rest, abstaining from alcohol, drinking lots of bottled water, chewing coca leaves, or drinking coca tea. Coca leaves are readily available at street markets, and most restaurants offer some form of coca tea. To help alleviate the symptoms, you can also take the drug acetazolamide (Diamox); it's available by prescription only in the United States.

The sun can also be very dangerous in Bolivia, especially at high altitudes. Bring plenty of high-powered sunblock and a wide-brimmed hat. It gets very cold in cities such as La Paz and Potosí, but don't let this fool you into complacency -- even when it's cold, the sun can inflict serious damage on your skin.


In general, the healthcare system in Bolivia is good enough to take care of mild illnesses.

Vaccinations -- A yellow fever vaccination is required for U.S. travelers to enter the country, but otherwise no vaccines are required. If you're planning to visit the difficult-to-reach Pantanal in the far eastern end of Bolivia, a yellow fever vaccination certificate is recommended regardless of your nationality. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that visitors to Bolivia vaccinate themselves against hepatitis A. Fortunately, since mosquitoes can't live in high altitudes, malaria is not a risk in the high plateau region of Bolivia, but there have been cases reported in rural parts of the Beni area and Santa Cruz.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.