Monday 9/22/08 Puno, Peru
**This post is to help other travelers looking to enter Bolivia from Peru, as currently there is some confusion on Thorn Tree and other on-line forums about entry requirements for Americans. If you have no interest in Bolivian visa matters, get back to work!**
When Evo Morales took office, he wanted to get back at the U.S. for making it so difficult for Bolivians to get American visas. So, he simply made the Bolivian entry requirements for Americans the same as those for Bolivians hoping to go to the states. That is why, now, Americans have to, among other things, pay $100 U.S. to enter Bolivia.
I just picked up my Bolivian visa from the Bolivian Consulate here in Puno, Peru. For the most part, getting the visa was simple. If you are an American and/or cyclist entering Bolivia via Cochabamba, I highly recommend getting the visa in Puno.
The main reason: It costs $100 U.S. here in Puno as opposed to $135 U.S. at the border.
Also, the Bolivian Consulate here is a relaxing place and its employees are prompt and kind.
Here’s how you get your visa:
1. Make copies of—-your front page of your passport (the one with your picture) and your yellow fever vaccination card (if you don’t have this, get the vaccine at the hospital here in Puno),
2. Print out—-some hotel’s main homepage with its address/phone number (you need to show ‘proof’ of a hotel reservation in Bolivia–a print out of a hotel’s main homepage will suffice for this) and your most recent on-line bank statement (you must prove that you have some cash to float you in Bolivia, that you aren’t going to mooch off the system)
3. Bring—-$100 U.S. in cash, one passport photo, your passport, and, if you are a traveler using conventional modes of transport, proof of a return ticket out of Bolivia.
4. For cyclists—-It says on-line you must show proof of your departure date when you apply for the visa (a bus or plane ticket). Obviously, with our bikes, we can’t do this. So, you must create a simple Microsoft Word doc titled ‘Itinerario’. In this doc, say when you will enter Bolivia, which cities you’ll ride to, and when you’ll leave Bolivia. At the bottom, create a space for your signature (labeled ‘Firma’) and a space for the date (labeled ‘Fecha’). Try to write the document in Spanish. It only needs to be a few sentences.
5. Go to the consulate with all your papers—-136 Jr. Arequipa Street. Open Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m. If you are looking for a place to stay in Puno, I stayed at a nice basic hotel across the street called Hotel Arequipa for 10 soles a night ($3.30 U.S.)
6. Hand over the paperwork and fill out a visa application. Then, PRESTO! After 10 minutes or so, you’ll be given a 90 day tourist visa for Bolivia that will be valid for 5 years. You will be allowed to enter once a year for 90 days for up to 5 years.
Any other questions about this, just email me: firstname.lastname@example.org