Despite reporting our spending each month, this doesn't necessarily give an accurate view of how much it costs to travel in the individual countries we visit. And given that we travelled pretty consistently through Bolivia without stopping to rent an apartment anywhere, I thought it would be interesting to report how much it cost us to travel in Bolivia.
We spent 42 nights in Bolivia. We spent them like this:
- 2 nights in Tarija
- 1 night on an overnight bus from Tarija to Tupiza
- 3 nights in Tupiza
- 3 nights on the Southwest Circuit (Quetana Chico, Villamar and Puerto Chuvica)
- 1 night in Uyuni
- 11 nights in Sucre
- 6 nights in Santa Cruz
- 4 nights in Samaipata
- 3 nights in Santa Cruz, again
- 4 nights in La Paz
- 4 nights in Copacabana
In total, we spent £1874.58 on everything for two people. This works out as £44.63 per day for two, or £22.32 per person per day.
I'll now break this spending down in to our regular categories of accommodation, transport, food, entertainment, mobile phone & internet and miscellaneous to give a clearer idea of the costs involved in travelling in Bolivia.
We paid for a private room with our own bathroom everywhere we stayed in Bolivia, with the exception of the three nights on the tour of Bolivia's Southwest Circuit from Tupiza to Uyuni, when we were sharing four bed rooms with the two other people on our tour group and had shared bathrooms.
Since the accommodation on our tour was included in the price of the tour, the accommodation total doesn't reflect those three nights, therefore the average price we paid per night (for both of us, not per person) for accommodation (over 39 nights) was £16.29.
Our total spend on transport in Bolivia included two flights (from Sucre to Santa Cruz and from Santa Cruz to La Paz), which together cost £179.23 for both of us. The remainder, £67.33, was for intercity or local buses and shared or private taxis.
We took one overnight bus journey (Tarija to Tupiza), three day buses (from Uyuni to Sucre, from La Paz to Copacabana and from Copacabana to Peru when we left Bolivia) and two shared taxis (from Santa Cruz to Samaipata and back).
We only used local taxis a few times to get to and from bus stations and airports, but the rest of the time we walked around the cities we visited. We may have taken taxis more often in La Paz if Zab had been feeling better and we'd gone out at night, but we didn't.
The cost of the transport for the four day tour is not included here. See Entertainment below.
Food is surprisingly cheap in Bolivia. We ate out for most meals, except for breakfast which was almost always included in the price of our hostel, or if it wasn't, we made it ourselves. £401.10 was our total spending on eating out, with £69.38 on cafés and £68.23 on general food (to cook for ourselves, or as snacks to take on bus journeys etc.)
Since all our food was included in the price of our four day tour (except dinner on the last day), our total food spending over 38 of our 42 days in Bolivia works out as £14.18 per day for both of us (just £7.09 each per day!).
£236.68 of this total was for the four day tour, meaning that that alone cost us £29.59 per person per day including transport, food and accommodation. It did not include the entrance fee to Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, which was 150Bs (£14.43) per person, or entrance to Incahuasi island on the salt flats, which was 30Bs (£2.90) each.
The rest of the entertainment spending included a three hour horse riding trip in Tupiza (£21.17 for both of us) and a full-body two hour massage each in Sucre (£24.35 together). The remaining £65.66 was for entrance fees to museums, ruins, Isla del Sol and the animal refuge in Samaipata.
Mobile Phone and Internet: £23.59
On our first day in Tarija, we bought a Bolivian sim (with Viva), cut it to fit into Zab's iPhone and loaded it with credit we could use for 3G. Often, we were able to tether my iPod and laptop to it to use internet when we were in a place with no wifi.
We also occasionally used the phone to make calls and send texts within Bolivia (to reserve a hotel or contact friends, for example). Considering that over 42 days in the country, this works out as just £0.58 per day, I think that's pretty good value.
Uyuni was the only place where we couldn't find wifi in a café and there was no 3G signal, so we paid to use an internet café. For both of us to use our own devices on their wifi for one hour, they charged us 8Bs (£0.77).
This accounts for any non-food items we bought (toiletries, clothing, postcards) or services we paid for (laundry, using the internet, haircuts). We spent £13.30 on laundry three times (the fourth time, we did it at a friend's place for free) and £5.74 on two haircuts during our time in Bolivia. Also, I bought a new pair of trousers for £19.92.
Is it worth it?
Bolivia is definitely an affordable country to travel in, and certainly the cheapest we've visited so far in South America. For what you can get for your money, I would say it's probably the best value place we've been on the continent, and with so many beautiful and varied places to see and experience, I think it's definitely worth it!
Just a reminder, it’s also definitely worth looking at sites like mamma for Thomson holiday deals as you can get last minute flights for a lot cheaper.