I am confident that this cost breakdown will be the most misunderstood one we do. Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in South America, meaning their prices are absurdly low. Right now 1 Boliviano is equivalent to about 0.14 United States dollar. For example, we had a really nice dinner at a really nice location with two entrees, glass of wine, and two waters (you have to pay for these) and the final bill was 96 Bolivianos which comes out to around $14. Absolutely crazy. However, you will see below that our price per day and total price are somewhat high for what we are budgeting.
Where we COULD have saved money: There are only two reasons why this average is high and that is because of Salar de Uyuni and Visas. We outlined in our post about obtaining Bolivian visas is not only tough, but it’s also expensive for US citizens. This visa cost us $160 per person so $320 for the two of us. When you are only staying in the country for 7 days, then you’re off to a pretty rough start.
The other major expense was our 3 day/2 night tour of Salar de Uyuni and the surrounding desert. This cost $420 for the two of us. This means that the visas and tour alone pretty much put us over our daily budget. The tour covered food and lodging during that time so we weren’t spending any additional money except for park entrance fees and bathrooms, but it’s still a large expense. With that said, we’ve known about this expense for a long time and it’s something we really wanted to experience and we couldn’t be happier we did. It was one of those experiences that pictures can’t do justice and we also had a really fun group. Getting to socialize for a few days was a bonus that doesn’t have a price tag.
In conclusion, the only way we could have saved money in Bolivia was to not be American because that VISA fee is a RIDICULOUS.
Overall Takeaways: As we said above, we wouldn’t have changed anything. We could have stayed another day in La Paz, but that’s about it. We paid an arm and a leg to get into a country to see something specific (Salar de Uyuni) and we are so happy we did.