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Why carry an IDP while driving in Bolivia?

Your IDP is a valid form of identification in more than 150 countries worldwide and contains your name, photo and driver information in the 12 most widely spoken languages in the world – it is understandable to most of the local officials and authorities of the countries you visit.

It translates your identification information into 12 languages — so it speaks the language even if you don’t. Bolivia highly recommends an International Driving Permit.

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BOLIVIA

Famous for its Salar de Uyuni or vast salt flats. You can never miss out on this natural phenomenon if you visit Bolivia. This South American country is rich in culture, history, and archaeological sites. Not to mention the Amazon tour that you thought you could only experience in Brazil. Bolivia also has that Amazon jungle tour and many historical sites that will teach you the rich history of this country.

Top Destinations in Bolivia

From colorful festivals to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, historic cities, various gastronomic experiences, and indigenous people. All of these you can explore in Bolivia. Every destination will offer you different vibes and learnings from this South American country.

Salar de Uyuni

There’s no greater way to kick-start your adventure than to witness the magnificent and world’s largest salt flat, when you say “where the sea meets the sky,” it’s Salar de Uyuni. This 4,000 square-mile flat makes its reflection of the sky when it rains, turning it to be the world’s most enormous mirror.

This is one of the most popular destinations in Bolivia. Ready your eyes for some flamingos and llamas during your trip. There’s no best time to visit Salar de Uyuni. It depends on what you want to see there. If you’re going to witness the natural mirror effect, you can visit between December to February. If you plan to see how it looks when it’s dry, you can visit Salar de Uyuni in the last weeks of April.

Driving Directions:

  • From the nearest city to Salar de Uyuni in La Paz, this trip will take you about seven hours.
  • Take Av. Héroes del Pacífico, Av. Saavedra, Coroico, Indaburo and Pichincha to Av Ismael Montes.
  • Take Route 1 to Perú in Uyuni.
  • Turn right onto Perú.

Bolivians allow tourists to drive with their driver’s license. Nevertheless, the safest thing to do is secure an International Driver’s Permit to avoid trouble while in Bolivia; you never know where police checks would be at, and they might ask for your IDP as one of the requirements to legally drive in the country. You can always submit your international driver’s permit application through the International Driver’s Association website before starting your trip in Bolivia.

Mi Teleférico

Mi Teleferico is one of the many destinations in La Paz. La Paz city is considered the third most populous city in Bolivia. Driving here could be a challenge due to car congestion, especially in the metro.

This aerial cable car system was officially opened in 2012 to address the growing demand for transportation in La Paz. While you are riding on it, enjoy the view of the Andes mountains. It is a busy destination since almost everyone in La Paz uses it. However, you would not want to miss the city’s view from the top, with its city lights during the evening.

Driving Directions:

  • Start your drive from the heart of La Paz City. From there, it will only take you six minutes to arrive at Mi Teleferico.
  • Drive along Av Felipe Reque L.
  • Turn right at the 1st cross street.
  • Drive along Calle Guerrilleros Lanza.
  • Turn right, and you will arrive at your destination, which is on the left.

Applying online for an international driver’s license is very easy, even when you are already in Bolivia": "Applying online for an international driver’s license is very easy, even when you are already in Bolivia. Log on to the International Driver’s Association website and fill out the necessary information to secure your international driver’s license for your trip to Bolivia. Don’t miss out on any needed information so you can have your IDP immediately.

There is already an international driver’s license for Bolivia template application for your trip to Bolivia, so you just need to fill them out and submit them. Please note that your shipping address might be different from your permanent address, so be sure to provide the address and zip code correctly for your international driver’s license for Bolivia shipment.

While you plan your Bolivia trip and process the necessary documents, applying for an international driver’s license will not be as hard as taking an exam. Providing your correct contact number can also come in handy if the IDP team or the courier might want to clarify your international driver’s license application for your Bolivia trip. It will not take much of your time, though.

Parque Cretacico

Go back in time to the dinosaurs in this park in the city of Sucre. It was founded in 1994 when a plant company accidentally stumbled upon these 5,000 tracks of eight different dinosaurs. This is also considered the most extensive collection of dinosaur footprints in the world. You can visit this park at any time of the day, from 9 AM to 5 PM. If you want to get good lighting for your photographs, the best time to visit here is in the afternoon.

The whole city of Sucre is A UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is to protect and preserve its significant historical buildings. The Spanish founded this city between the 1500s and the 16th century. So if you are into colonial architecture, then this city is for you.

Driving Directions:

  • You need to travel for only 14 minutes to reach Parque Cretacico if you are coming from Sucre.
  • Take Manuel Maria Vilar to Av Marcelo Quiroga Sta Cruz/Route 5.
  • Turn left onto Av Marcelo Quiroga Sta Cruz/Route 5.
  • Drive to your destination.

There is no need to go to the office to submit the requirements for an international driver’s permit for your trip to Bolivia. Once you log in to the website, you will be asked to fill out a form, provide an exact copy of your driver’s license and a passport-sized photo of you. The IDP team will then evaluate your submitted form for your international driver’s permit application before you are granted an IDP for your Bolivia trip.

Yungas Road

Despite being tagged as the death road, this destination has attracted an average of 25,000 tourists a year. This road is about 80 kilometers long, linking La Paz’s city and the Yungas region in Bolivia. It previously catered to tourists and locals from going to La Paz to the Yungas region and vice versa. In 2007, it was closed to trucks and other vehicles because of how narrow the road is prone to accidents.

Yungas Road is not for the faint-hearted. There have already been 18 cyclists who have died on this road since 1998. But this is not the reason for tourists and cycling enthusiasts not to try the thrill this road gives. The best time to visit here is during the winter or Bolivia’s dry season from May to October. The temperature could drop to below zero, so be ready with your winter clothes as well.

Driving Directions:

  • If you are coming from La Paz, it will take about two hours to reach Yungas Road.
  • Take Av 15 de Abril and Av de las Americas/Av. Ramiro Castillo to Route 3.
  • Slight right onto Route 3 (Toll road).
  • Turn right.

Be ready with your documents as you drive around Bolivia. As a driver, your native driver’s license and international driver’s license must come together and be prepared to present them when authorities in Bolivia ask for it. Police check in the country is frequent. To avoid hassle while on the road, it pays to have it readily available.

Accidents might come your way as you drive through Bolivian roads. Remember to stay at the scene and immediately call for police assistance or an emergency responder if there are injuries. Make use of the early warning devices you brought to prompt other motorists of the accident ahead.

Lake Titicaca

Seated in the Andes on the border of Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is the worlds’ e largest navigable lake. This is also considered the largest lake in South America. In Lake Titicaca lies more than forty-one islands, some of them are densely populated. Explore Islas Uros and meet indigenous people living on floating, handmade reed islands. It is the most visited island for tourists coming to Lake Titicaca.

You might also want to visit Isla del Sol. This is considered the largest island in Lake Titicaca that sits just off the Copacabana Peninsula tip in Bolivia. If you wish to explore more islands in this lake, you can visit other cruise packages once you get here. May to October is the best month to visit Lake Titicaca. Dry weather gives clearer air, blue skies, and backdrop-worthy sunsets.

Driving Directions:

  • Copacabana will be your jump-off point in going to Lake Titicaca. You can start your drive from La Paz that will take about three hours.
  • Take Av. Héroes del Pacífico and Av. Saavedra to Av Ismael Montes.
  • Continue to Tiquina.
  • Take the Ruta Nacional 2 ferry.
  • Continue straight to stay on Ruta Nacional 2.
  • Take Manuel Mejía to Calle Pando.

Getting an IDP is fast and hassle-free. After you applied for your international driver’s permit on the International Driver’s Association website, you can have a digital copy of your IDP in two hours emailed to you, and the physical copy of it will be shipped to you either in Bolivia or anywhere you want it to be shipped. See that you have filled out the exact shipping address for a faster and efficient shipment of your international driver’s license for your drive in Bolivia.

Bolivian Amazon

Experience Amazon in Bolivia. Bolivian Amazon is cheaper when you compare it to the one in Brazil. Since the Amazon stretches to nine different countries, you can enjoy the rare flora and fauna in Bolivia. Indulge your eyes with the variety of living ecosystems in this 5.5 million square kilometers of rainforest. You can travel during the dry season between May and October to best experience the Amazon.

Driving Directions:

  • From the city of La Paz, it would take you more than a 9-hour drive to the town of Rurrenabaque. That's where you start your Amazon jungle adventure. There are tour packages that you can choose from once you arrive here.
  • Take Av 15 de Abril and Av de las Americas/Av. Ramiro Castillo to Route 3.
  • Continue on Route 3 to Rurrenabaque.
  • Drive to your destination.

You can do the tracking of your international driver’s permit for your Bolivia trip online. The shipment of your IDP’s physical copy will take about 7-15 days if with the U.S and 30 days outside the United States. So it’s better to apply ahead of time to avoid delays in your travel.

And for other concerns, you can also visit the website of the International Driver’s Association. From there, you can ask for assistance or an update from the customer service on the physical copy of your international driver’s permit before you leave for Bolivia. Some shipments might be delayed due to travel restrictions, so better to stay in the loop with your shipment.

Madidi National Park

One can reach Madidi National Park through Rurrenabaque town. It’s better to get tour packages here for a safer trip to the national park. Madidi was established in 1995 and stretched to an impressive 18 958 square kilometers and is considered one of the world's biologically diverse regions. As you tour inside the national park, try to see different exotic Amazonian animals including 120, 000 species of insects.

Madidi sits in the upper Amazon river basin, the reason why you can witness Amazonian animals. This national park is home to thousands of bird species. About 1 254 individual species constitute 14% of the 9,000 identified species in the world. Enjoy their colors through your eyes and their chirping through your ears. Best to travel here during the dry season between May to October.

Driving Directions:

  • From La Paz’s city, you can take the same route as going to the Amazon Jungle. You will start your tour to Madidi National Park from Rurrenabaque.
  • Take Av 15 de Abril and Av de las Americas/Av. Ramiro Castillo to Route 3.
  • Continue on Route 3 to Rurrenabaque.
  • Drive to your destination.

The travel from La Paz to Rurrenabaque is quite long, and it is expected that there are going to police checks as you go along. Remember to have your documents ready with you. Authorities in Bolivia might ask the driver for his/her license, identification card, and international driver’s license. Failure to present these documents might signal that you are illegally driving in Bolivia.

Cerro Rico

Here lies the Cerro Rico silver mine that produced so much silver that it lured the Spanish back then to visit its city. Once known as the wealthiest city in the Americas, not Cerro Rico is mined for its tin. Tourists can experience mining; it’s like taking guided tours in Cerro Rico through the mountain’s narrow tunnels.

Cerro Rico is in the city of Potosi, which is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was declared in 1987 for its historical value as an extraordinary example of primary silver mining and the economic change in the 16th century by the flood of Spanish currency. And while you are in Potosi, don’t miss to get a glimpse of Mint Museum.

Driving Directions:

Cerro Rico from central Potosi is around 8 kilometers far or a 26-minute drive.

  • Head southwest on Av. Oleoducto toward Calle 13 de Mayo.
  • Turn left at the 2nd cross street onto Calle Boquerón.
  • Turn right onto Calle La Paz. After that, make another right turn.
  • Turn left at the 1st cross street, and another left onto Ramos.
  • Turn right onto Arenas.
  • Keep left before making a right turn and continuing onto Surco.
  • Slight left, and you’ll arrive at your destination.
  • Slight left, and you’ll arrive at your destination.

If you happen to lose your international driver’s license while in Bolivia, you can request a replacement online. Through the International Driver’s Association website, you can contact their customer service, and from there, you will process the replacement for free and have your international driver’s license shipped to Bolivia. The only cost you will shoulder will be the shipping fee.

Make sure to key in the correct zip code for your shipping address in Bolivia to not delay the shipment of the replacement of your international driver’s license. You can also add another contact number while you are in Bolivia, just if the courier might want to call you regarding your international driver’s license shipment. And if you’re going to get an update on your shipment to Bolivia, you can contact customer service for your international driver’s license queries.

The Cordillera Real

The Cordillera Real or the Royal Range has more than 600 peaks with a height of above 5000 meters above sea level. This is popular for the adventurous who want to conquer high mountains in the Bolivian Andes. However, through the years, the Royal Range has also been known for fun treks, bikes, and hikes.

The Cordillera Real might be nearer to the equator, but it is quite glaciated since it is close to the Amazon lowlands associated with moist air masses. The best time to hop into an adventure here is from May to September. Remember to hire tour guide packages before climbing as many of the peaks here are technical and require climbing experience.

Driving Directions:

  • You can start your drive in La Paz. Travel time is about 3 hours and 15 minutes.
  • Take Av 15 de Abril and Av de las Americas/Av. Ramiro Castillo to Route 3.
  • Follow Autopista Héroes de la Guerra del Chaco, Ruta Nacional 2 and Route 16 to Achacach.
  • Drive to your destination in Sorata.

If Bolivia is not the first country you visited after getting your international driver’s permit, you might need to check first if it is still valid and update it if it has exceeded the validity. You need to visit again online, fill out a form, and submit your application for a renewed international driver’s permit so you can legally drive in Bolivia.

If it is your first time to apply, you can do it online as well. Once you log on to the International Driver’s Association website, you provide the necessary information. On the application form for an international driver’s license for your travel in Bolivia, you will be asked to provide your complete name, address, zip code, and contact number. Ensure the shipping address properly for your international driver’s license; it could be in Bolivia or anywhere else.

Tiwanaku

If you are into archaeology, you should not miss Tiwanaku. Witness before your eyes decorated ceramics, monumental structures, and megalithic blocks. This ruined ancient city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that sits in Lake Titicaca in Western Bolivia. The ruins of Tiwanaku belonged to the Tiwanaku people that occupied the place about 11,000 - 17,000 years ago. It is advised that you visit this place around April - June and September - October.

Driving Directions:

  • From the city of La Paz, you have to drive for 1 hour and 46 minutes to get here from the city of La Paz.
  • Take Av. Héroes del Pacífico and Av. Saavedra to Av Ismael Montes.
  • Drive from Autopista Héroes de la Guerra del Chaco to El Alto.
  • Take 9 Tunari to Route 1.
  • Slight left onto Route 1 (toll road).
  • Take Av General Gamez to your destination in Tiwanaku.

If you are curious about what an international driver’s permit looks like, you can check for sample photos online to have an idea before driving in Bolivia. It is a booklet that shows 12 translations of your native driver’s license. The international driver’s permit can come in handy if authorities ask the driver for documents while in Bolivia.

Oruro Carnival

A party like no other, as they say. The Oruro Carnival is one of the most famous festivals in Bolivia. Drawing about 400,000 people every year, this unique festival showcases spectacular folk dances, extravagant and colorful costumes, beautiful crafts, lively and upbeat music, and up to 20 hours of non-stop parties. This is celebrated every year before Ash Wednesday. The festival falls typically in February.

Driving Directions:

  • If you are coming from La Paz City, travel time typically takes three hours and seven minutes.
  • Take Av. Héroes del Pacífico, Av. Saavedra, Coroico, Indaburo and Pichincha to Av Ismael Montes.
  • Drive to Avenida Circunvalación/Route 1 in Oruro.

There will be a city or cities in Bolivia conducting police checks but will not ask for your international driver’s permit. Nevertheless, you do not want to risk not getting your international driver’s permit because some checkpoints in Bolivia might need the driver to present and IDP. Better be safe than sorry!

Cochabamba

Road trips will not be complete without a food trip! Hence, drive to the city Cochabamba to taste the traditional Bolivian cuisine. Known as the “gastronomical capital of Bolivia.” Make sure to taste the dishes such as Sopa de mani (peanut soup), silpancho (schnitzel-style meat with fried egg and rice), pique macho (meat and fried potatoes), and chicharron (crispy fried pork). You can visit here all year round.

Driving Directions:

  • The nearest city to Cochabamba is Oruro. Travel time from Oruro is about four hours.
  • Follow Route 12 and RN 4 to Av Juana Azurduy de Padilla in Cochabamba.
  • Continúe con Av Juana Azurduy de Padilla. Take Juana Padilla and Sajama to Av. De La Fuerza Aérea.

Most Important Driving Rules

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Basic Driving Rules

Take note to always drive on the right side of the road. There are about 163 right-driving countries globally, so if you came from that country included in those 163, then there won’t be any problem driving in Bolivia.

Always Bring Your IDP With You

Police checkpoints are frequent in Bolivia. This explains why you should have complete travel documents with you while driving. Authorities in Bolivia might ask you to pull over, especially in a busy city for inspection; essential documents like native driver’s license and international driver’s permit should be presented.

And make sure you present the original copy of your international driver’s permit and not a sample you saw online; police in Bolivia may put up a fine for not showing an original copy of your documents. Authorities in Bolivia implement on the spot fines that you have to settle at the police station. This will take up much of your time when it is solely allotted for your road trip.

You need not visit an office in Bolivia for your international driver’s permit. Some of the information required is your full name, address, contact number, and zip code for your international driver’s permit application in Bolivia. No need to track your application because in two hours, a digital copy will be emailed to you, and the physical copy of your international driver’s permit will be shipped to you, whether it’s in Bolivia or somewhere else.

Don’t Forget to Carry Required Documents

Bringing with you your passport, driver’s license, international driver’s license are just some basic requirements when driving in Bolivia. You might be asked to pull over by authorities during your trip, or worse, you met with an accident. These documents might come in handy since these are the first ones that authorities will ask from you.

Drunk Driving and Use of Illegal Drugs is Prohibited

While it’s true that you should have fun when on a trip, but have fun responsibly. Bolivian authorities will not tolerate drunk drivers. Your body’s blood alcohol content should not be more than 0.05%. There’s a corresponding fine for drunk driving, and you could go to jail. Driving under the influence of alcohol and illegal drugs can also lead to road accidents.

Obey the Speed Limit of the Road

Speed limits are usually printed on traffic signs at the roadside, but it won’t cost you less if you know the roads’ speed limit leading to your destinations. Remember, when you drive on urban roads, your car speed must not be more than 50 kph. Meanwhile, on rural or provincial roads, you can only move at a maximum speed of 70 kph. And 80 kph for open roads.

Wearing a Seatbelt and Securing Child’s Safety

It might not be common to wear seatbelts while driving in Bolivia. But you have to bear in mind that putting on seat belts will save you from injuries if there are massive collisions while driving. If you are traveling with a toddler, make sure to place your child at the rear seat with a car seat. Car rental companies offer car seat rentals as well.

Observe Road Signs While Driving in Bolivia

Road and traffic signs might not be noticeable, especially in Bolivian areas with inadequate road lighting, so make sure to focus on driving and the road signs. Especially if they are not very visible, you can take your time driving carefully. No one is tailing you, so no need to hurry in driving.

Using Handheld Phones While Driving is Not Allowed

If you want to use your mobile phones, use the hands-free system. As much as possible, avoid using your phone while driving. It divides your attention from driving and attending to your phone. The use of mobile phones while driving is prohibited in Bolivia.

Do Not Drive With an Expired License

Driving with an expired license and without an international driver’s license as driving requirements is a violation in Bolivia. Even if your native driver’s license has expired, your IDP will not replace your driver’s license and will not be valid once authorities ask for it. If you are caught not having a driver's license and international driver’s permit while driving in Bolivia, you might be fined and have to visit an office to settle it.

How do you apply for an IDP?

It will not cost you a great effort or take an exam to get an international driver’s license officially called as, “International Driver’s Permit” for your trip to Bolivia. All you need to do is fill out a form online; whether you are in Bolivia or your home country, you can apply for an international driver’s license. You can access the International Driver’s Association website right at your fingertips.

There will be a template provided for you, and you need to key in your name, address, zip code, and email address; and you also need to upload your valid driver’s license you will use in Bolivia and a passport-sized photo for your international driver’s license application. Applying for an IDP will cost you $49, and in two hours, the digital copy of your IDP will be emailed to you. The shipment will take about 7-15 days for the US and 30 days outside the United States.

How to renew an expired IDP?

When you want to update your international driver’s license after your trip to Bolivia, then you can have it renewed online. Renewal of your IDP costs the same as your first application. It’s the same form you need to fill out for your international driver’s license if you wish to use it after traveling to Bolivia.

There is so much to consider before you travel to a foreign country, especially if you take on road trips. That is why it is essential to plan; apart from the hotel accommodations and tour packages bookings, you must see that your documents are valid and are not expired. This way, you will not have any significant problems as you enjoy the wonders and immerse yourself in Bolivian culture.

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