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Photo by Ryan Kost, Andes & Amazon Semester.

Arrival Yak, Important!

Hey everyone,

This is a really important Yak! I’m going to outline all the steps you need to know to navigate the airport upon arrival in Bolivia. Please pay close attention, print it out if you need to. It’s not a terribly complicated process, but when you’ve been traveling for hours or days, arriving at a new place can be really intimidating. I know, I’ve experienced that many times. My hope is that the information I can provide you here will make your arrival smoother.

The first thing you should know is that you’re arriving to El Alto International Airport in El Alto, Bolivia. At over 13,000 feet this is one of the highest international airports in the world. You’re all arriving really early in the morning, so you can expect not only to feel out of it from travel but also from the altitude. It’s not uncommon for people getting off the plane to feel short of breath and even a little dizzy in El Alto. Don’t be worried if you have these mild symptoms when you first arrive.

The first place you’ll be directed after getting off the plane is to the immigration desk. There is usually a line so you may have to spend some time waiting. When it’s your turn you’ll be called to the desk and they’ll want to see your passport and visa. They usually don’t ask many questions, however if they do ask you what you’re doing in Bolivia the answer is tourism, the place where you’ll be is Sol y Luna in Coroico and the amount of time you’ll be in Bolivia is one month. They’ll stamp your passport, take your picture and then you’ll be through.

Next comes the baggage claim. You’ll move straight pat the immigration desk and see the bags coming around. A lot of times there are people at the airport who take the bags off as they come by and set them on the ground, take a look around and see if your bag has been lifted off the carousel. Once you get your bag you’ll need to get in line for customs. There is usually someone there checking the bag tag against the tag you were given when you checked your bag originally, make sure to keep that tag. After they check the label there are a couple of people at a table collecting the customs sheet that you will have been given on the plane. The form is in english and spanish, so it’s not hard to fill out. You’ll hand them the sheet and then place your bag on another x-ray machine. When your bag exists the machine you can pick it up and head for the exit. If for some reason they want to look in your bag then you will be directed to a room next to the exit where they will check whatever they want to check and then you’ll be free to leave.

Once you exit after customs then I’ll be there waiting for you. I’ll have a Dragons shirt on just in case you don’t recognize me. From there we’ll move to a comfortable place to sleep before we do anything else.

I’ve tried to be as detailed as possible here but again, if anything is unclear please don’t hesitate to be in touch. It’s not a hard process and usually doesn’t take that long. On the other side is a whole world of things to learn. See you there!