Ashok B. Boghani
3 min readFeb 1, 2024


It is challenging for Americans to enter Bolivia, the poor and land locked country in South America. The instructions on what you need to do to get a visa are confusing and complicated. In some places they mention that you need to get the visa at a Bolivian consulate or embassy in US before you come. For us, living in LA, that would have been possible but the consulate staff is notorious for being unresponsive to phone calls and emails. Other instructions involve filling out online forms and uploading information.

We decided to ask the operator of a three-day tour we were taking to cross over from Chile to Bolivia and show us the south western part of that country, including Salar de Uyuni. His instructions were long but clear: Just bring $160 per person in cash (crisp notes), a bank statement (showing that you have enough money to last in Bolivia), a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate for each one of us, our itinerary, our flight details, and filled our immigration forms along with our pictures. Over the weeks preceding our departure, we got all that. Well, all except the Yellow Fever vaccination certificate. Our doctor advised us against taking it (at our age), and provided a very authentic looking form that said that the vaccine was not taken. However, it was very authentic looking.

In the end it all worked out. The immigration officer at the border singled us out from the line of other tourists (mostly Europeans and Brazilians), but did not give us any hassle. One can argue that Bolivians were doing to Americans what we do to them for getting visas. Getting even.

However, in spite of the hassle involved, Bolivia is a country that is worth visiting. Absolutely.

First of all, this is the land of superlatives. It has the highest navigable lake in the world, Lake Titicaca, at 12,500’. We went there in 1980, our first visit to Bolivia, and it is an impressive site.

Bolivia also has the largest salt flat in the world. Salar de Uyuni is over 4,000 sq miles. Located at 12,000’, it is so large that one cannot see the other end in many places. This was the main objective of our trip this time.

Finally, the country boasts the highest capital in the world, La Paz, at 12,000’ and two of the highest cities in the world, Potosi, at 13,500’ and El Alto, right above La Paz, at 13,600’.

The second reason why Bolivia is worth visiting is its population. The country is populated by indigenous people or those of mixed ancestry (Mestizos). Some 70% of population has some native background, and about 20 recognized indigenous groups live in Bolivia. Almost everyone we interacted with in Bolivia had some indigenous background.

Evo Morales was the first Indigenous President of the country. He is the one who is credited with creating “Plurinational” State of Bolivia in 2009. In fact, we were in La Paz when they celebrated the 15th anniversary of signing that new Political Constitution.

In an age when many countries are lurching toward non-secular, non-pluralistic state, this is refreshing.

Yes, Americans are not loved by those in power in this country, but people at large have nothing but affection for us.

Bolivia. One of our favorite countries.



Ashok B. Boghani

I am a retired management consultant who enjoys reading and writing on a variety of subjects. I am fascinated by people, places and physics.