This section covers the most frequently asked questions that we get about SOUTHTREKS services and about Bolivia.
Many answers are in our web site so please search further as the answer to your question is likely to be in there. If not, please e-mail or call us and we will do our best to answer your questions.
Who Can Travel On Explore Bolivia Trips?
Our trips are for anyone with an adventurous spirit who want to experience a unique country and learn about a different culture. Complete beginners and extreme experts have traveled with us ranging from 15 to 75 years old. We help you choose the trip that suits your interests and abilities and can customize any tour for any date for any size group. Our itineraries are designed to get people acclimatized if traveling to the highlands first and to offer quality time every day.
What Types Of Trips Are Offered?
Bolivia has a lot of potential for the complete vacation – whether casual or adventurous. Depending on your interest, time and budget you can choose the journey that suits your needs. Traditional tourism involves travel to cities and regions to learn in depth the traditions and cultural nuances of Bolivia. On the other hand, if you’re more adventurous, you have many options to travel through Bolivia to experience the un-discovered areas and the great geographic wonders of this land. SOUTHTREKS specializes in adventure travel that fits both categories – “soft” or “hard”. Depending on your needs and desires there are many options to choose from. We often combine regions and activities that offer superb variety. We specialize in designing custom-made itineraries and that is our focus. We are experts in dealing with film, video and photography expeditions. We can handle anything from “fixers” to “expedition logistics” as well as provide any kind of transportation you may need from burros to planes.
Soft Adventure Tours:
- Photographic tours on the Altiplano, Andes, Amazon and including magical Lake Titicaca
- Trekking along the shores of Lake Titicaca and on certain Inca Trails in the Cordillera Real
- Birdwatching tours in the tropical lowlands of the Beni, Santa Cruz, Pando, Cochabamba and La Paz
- Four Wheel Drive tours on the Altiplano and highland valleys
Hard Adventure Tours:
- Mountain Biking in the Andes and Altiplano
- Trekking on Inca Trails along the Cordilleras Apolobamba, Real and Quimsa Cruz
- Mountaineering in the Bolivian Andes
- Exploratory trips to un-run rivers and wild regions in the tropics
How Do I Get To Bolivia?
If flying, the gateway city to Bolivia from the US is usually Miami. An overnight flight of approximately 6 hours will have you in the cities of Santa Cruz or La Paz early the next morning. Departures from Bolivia to the US are either very early in the morning or early evenings from La Paz or Santa Cruz – depending on your airline. For example: flights offered by Aerosur from Miami to Santa Cruz & La Paz depart late in the evening and from La Paz to Santa Cruz and onto Miami in the early evening. Flights offered by AA (American Airlines) depart late in the evening from Miami to La Paz and depart back to Miami from La Paz, via Santa Cruz, very early in the morning.
What Is Included In The Price?
Our prices are for land services as per the itinerary only and does not include international airfare. As a general rule, we include all transportation, guides, lodging, camping equipment (except sleeping bag or pad), all meals (except in the cities) and some specific equipment needed for an activity. The inclusions are specified in the Terms and Conditions as well as the final itinerary that explains what accommodations and meals are included, as well as the rest of our services. We provide a detailed pre-departure packet including clothing and equipment list, vaccinations, altitude info, reading lists and other relevant and important information.
When Is The Best Time To Go To Bolivia?
The “optimum time” for travel is during the dry season (April to November) for most activities that are better suited to take advantage of the better climatic conditions, but we offer many trips year-round. For most trips the dry season is best because the weather is stable and the roads are in good condition. Depending on your activity and region you are traveling to, weather, road or river conditions may warrant travel only during certain seasons. Please ask us for specifics.
How Big Are The Groups On Explore Bolivia Trips And Can I Travel Alone?
Our goal is to offer quality trips for all participants so we keep our groups small – usually less than ten people, usually 4-6 – plus our guides, drivers and other support personnel. With smaller groups everyone knows each other better, our impact on the land is less and it’s easier to operate logistically. Single travelers are welcome to join groups – if we can find the common dates and activities that appeal to all participants. We have offered trips for 1 person up to private groups of 25 people. We can accommodate tours for larger groups with prior planning and have done so often. We do not offer set departures as that is not how custom tours are designed. A custom itinerary gives you exactly what you are looking for – no more and hopefully no less. The shorter trips are 9 days long – taking advantage of one 5-day week with two weekends on each end. We’ve done 1-day trips and up to 40-day trips as well.
Who Will I Be Traveling With?
The people that travel with South Treks tend to be adventurous – in mind, body and spirit – and want to go to a country that has few visitors and is genuinely authentic. Some are into natural history, others into hard adventure while others want great variety of all things. We try to make sure that anyone going on a particular trip is suited for it – mentally and physically. Most of our clients tend to be professionals, range in their mid-30′s to mid 50′s – have traveled and experienced the world – and are well educated and fun to travel with. They are used to dealing with the issues of underdeveloped countries and know how to take it all in stride. After all, that is what adventure travel is all about, right?
Do You Offer Custom Trips?
More than half of our trips are customized in one way or another. We don’t believe in or run canned tours. Many of our custom trips are similar to the regular trips but have specific dates and may be closed to other participants if it’s a private group. Customization of our trips is what we do and we are quite flexible and can accommodate just about any request. Custom dates are available for specialized groups, private organizations, zoos, film production companies, photographic tours and women’s groups.
What Types Of Guides Will Be Leading The Trips?
The guides are usually native-born Bolivians and foreign nationals that are experienced, bilingual,and experts in the activity and the regions they travel in. The guides know just about every corner of the country and they are there to make sure that the guests have a unique and exciting adventure travel experience. A guide is often the most important person on a trip and we believe that the magic trip happens when the right guide is there. We strive to pick the best guide for the situation and are very careful of who works for us. For the photographic tours, Sergio Ballivian will be the main guide as he has all the knowledge and years of experience of where to go and when to be there.
Can Explore Bolivia Arrange Expeditions To Remote Locations?
One of our passions and the reason we started South Treks was to do expeditions. We LOVE expeditions and we are always looking for new river descents, first ascents in the mountains, a new mountain bike ride, a remote wildlife spectacle to visit or find more hidden Inca Trails to explore. Most us have years of experience doing expeditions and love a challenge. Many of the trips we offer were first done by us and incorporated into our tour offerings afterwards. You can count on us to arrange logistics, drop-off and pick-up, food, porters or animals and whatever else you might need. We have worked often with film production companies and photographic tours and are quite knowledgeable in that area as well.
Do I Need To Be In Good Shape?
Being in “good shape” is a relative term. We always prefer that people arrive in Bolivia in the best physical shape possible for their activity. But, some trips don’t require a lot of physical effort but more of a mental attitude that is agile at dealing with surprises that may come along. The best is to be physically fit with a positive mental attitude. Of course, some trips require top physical and mental conditioning. When dealing with the altitude we highly recommend that you arrive in good cardiovascular shape and quit smoking before you arrive. Please ask us for more specifics if you have any doubts about a trip you may want to be part of.
How Long Are South Treks Trips?
Our trips range from two days to over a month – depending on the trip, the group and the specific itinerary. Most trips average 7-9 days and are designed to take advantage of the weekends on either end of a 5-day week as much as possible. Since the trips are custom there really is no average length but there is a minimum amount of days one needs in order to acclimatize properly.
How Do I Reserve A Spot On A Trip?
To reserve a trip with South Treks you need to fill out a Trip Application Form and return it with a reservation deposit as soon as possible. We will need full payment 60 days prior to departure date of the trip. You have the option of paying in installments in order to facilitate your trip planning. We do not accept credit cards. The deposit may be paid for by check, money order, bank check or wire transfer.
Are Refunds Available If I Decide Not To Go?
Once a reservation has been made there is a non-refundable administrative cost of U.S. $ 500.00 (please refer to cancellation schedule). No one will be allowed to participate on a trip unless all necessary documentation and paperwork is received, which includes a medical and liability release form. The responsibility for obtaining proper documentation for international travel (i.e. visas, vaccinations and other expenses) rests with the trip applicant(s).
We hope this will not happen because you will miss out on a great trip! But, if it does, we MUST receive a written cancellation notice.
Due to the fact that a large portion of the trip costs are already committed far in advance of the dates of departure, we will provide refunds according to the following schedule:
- There is a non-refundable administrative cost of $500 per person for all cancellations.
- For notice received more than 90 days BEFORE departure date: balance of payment received.
- 90 – 61 days before departure date: 50 % refund.
- 60 – 45 days before departure date: 25 % refund.
- 44 days or less before departure date: no refund of any kind.