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Photo by Celia Mitchell (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest Entry), Indonesia Semester.

Information about Malaria in Bolivia and Peru

Dear Student,

Hello upcoming Amazon travelers!  As you are all likely beginning to visit travel doctors and make a plan for vaccinations and medication, we wanted to take this opportunity to provide some additional information, especially with regards to malaria prophylaxis.

Dragons has no specific stipulations or requirements regarding malaria and you should know that it is up to your discretion. We hope the following information from us can supplement info you’ve already received.

As a caveat, and in line with all of our literature, please consult your travel doctor for ALL medical recommendations. We do our best to provide clear information, but also recognize that we at Dragons are not medical professionals and cannot give specific medical advice. This is to be worked out with your doctor, but we encourage you to come to them with questions because it is not uncommon for many doctors to offer blanket-prescriptions while not considering the specific details of their client’s travels.

Also note that many malaria prophylactics have side effects that should be considered and tested before committing to 12 weeks of travel in a foreign country. In addition, it is important to note that medications for malaria do not prevent you from contracting the disease, but they do lessen the associated symptoms.

An important way we can help in your decision with your travel doctor is to give you a very clear breakdown of the regions and altitudes where you will travel, which are the two determining factors in coming up with a plan for malaria prophylaxis. Ultimately, we are in full support of whatever regimen your travel doctor has prescribed.

The CDC website for Bolivia states the following:
“Areas of Bolivia with Malaria: All areas <2,500 m (<8,202 ft). None in city of La Paz.”

And for Peru the following
“Areas of Peru with Malaria: All departments <2,000 m (6,562 ft), including the cities of Iquitos and Puerto Maldonado and only the remote eastern regions of La Libertad and Lambayeque. None in the following areas: Lima Province; the cities of Arequipa, Ica, Moquegua, Nazca, Puno, and Tacna; the highland tourist areas (Cusco, Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca); and along the Pacific Coast.


Your semester will begin either in the La Paz department of Bolivia at altitudes between 2600 and 5000 meters above sea level, or in the Cusco department of Peru at altitudes above 2800 meters. Your travels will then take you to various parts of the mountains in the La Paz and Cochabamba departments in Bolivia and the Cuzco and Madre de Dios Departments in Peru at similar altitudes (over 2600 meters). Your group will descend to the Amazon for a maximum of two weeks at altitudes between 400 and 1600 meters (either in the Beni Department of Bolivia, or in the Madre de Dios or Ucayali departments of Peru).

While we cannot give specific medical advice, note that the CDC does say the cities of Cochabamba, La Paz, Sucre, Cuzco, and other areas we travel for the bulk of the course are at altitudes that are above malarial risk areas.

Additionally, we can plan for the specific day that you drop into the Amazonian lowlands and can advise each of you in advance to begin your medications. In turn, when you come back up to the mountains, the divide is very clear as well and we can come up with a plan for finishing the prescription.

Our total time in malarial risk zones, according to the CDC, will be no more than 2 weeks.

Please talk to your travel doctor about this, bringing a print-up of this note as well as the sample itinerary offered on our website and in our catalog and see what they recommend. We will work with whatever recommendations your doctor makes.


Please note that the Yellow Fever vaccine is only required for Bolivian visa purposes if travelling from a country with a risk of Yellow Fever (this does not include the US). Please visit the Center for Disease Control website for a list of countries with a risk of Yellow Fever transmission.

The CDC generally recommends the Yellow Fever vaccine for travel in Bolivia and Peru at altitudes below 2,300 meters.

We hope this helps, and please send us an e-mail or give us a call if you have any questions. We hope your preparation for the fall semester is going well!


Julianne Chandler and Dragons’ Admin