Start planning your tour to Bolivia
While often overlooked by travellers in favour of its more famous neighbours, Bolivia's unique mixture of bizarre but beautiful landscapes definitely deserves a place on your Travel Bucket list. This fascinating country can be found right in the middle of South America, tucked away between the ancient history of Peru, the rich culture of Chile, the wine country of Argentina, the nationwide celebrations of Brazil, and the lush jungles of Paraguay. Adventure, culture, and relaxation are all on offer on a holiday here, with world-renowned sites like Mount Illimani, Lake Titicaca, and the Salar de Uyuni to name just a few, set into a backdrop of the Andes Mountains, the Atacama Desert, and the Amazon Basin Rainforest.
Travelling around Bolivia can be overwhelming, with so much to see and do, but with a local guide you can rest assured that you’re being shown the best hidden spots around the country. Planning a trip to Bolivia with one of Evaneos’ carefully-selected local travel agents will give you an insider’s perspective on the climate and the best time of the year to visit particular areas, as well as the most useful insights for creating your perfect Bolivia tour. Above all, they can be your on-the-ground support for everything, whether you need a translator, tips on the best local restaurants, or you’re experiencing a problem during your trip.
Best things to see and do in Bolivia
What to see in Bolivia
Most travellers are drawn to Bolivia for its postcard-perfect scenery, so fans of photography or the outdoors will be in their element here. When planning any holiday to Bolivia, the first thing to consider is how many different areas you want to see in the time you have away. For the sake of helping you narrow down the sites to include on your itinerary, here’s a quick travel guide to the top highlights of Bolivia:
- Salt flats and deserts: first on your list of tourist sites to cover should be a trip to the world-renowned Salar de Uyuni. This altiplano is a huge raised plateau that was formed during the creation of the Andes, and the largest salt desert in the world. A guided desert tour will bring you up close to the alien, moon-like landscapes and flocks of resident flamingos that call this place home. Conveniently, there are also some amazing things to see and do surrounding the salt desert; spend a couple of nights in the town of Uyuni, for example, to get a taste of the local culture. A visit to Incahuasi should not go ignored either. Incahuasi is an island in the middle of the desert whose name means ‘house of the Incas’, offering 360 degree views out over the vast expanse of the salt flats. Alternatively, why not take a detour to Isla Incaluas to see the giant cacti fields located in the middle of an enormous salt flat? In short, it's no wonder this area was chosen as the filming location of so many big-name productions.
- Lagoons and lakes: Lake Titicaca is one of Bolivia’s most popular sites and for good reason; at 8,372 km², this lake is also home to the man-made floating islands which make fascinating viewing. In Andean belief, Lake Titicaca is the birthplace of the sun and so is an important part of national identity. Next, explore some of Bolivia's azure lagunas, which are sure to take your breath away. Visit Laguna Colorada to see flamingos and vibrant waters, or Laguna Verde to see a stunning lake against the backdrop of volcanoes and mountains that encapsulate the rugged essence of the Bolivian landscape.
- Cities and villages: now get a sense for city life in some of the most iconic cities in Bolivia, such as La Paz and Sucre. The former is home to the Valle de La Luna, another of Bolivia’s alien landscapes which should not be missed. Travel here to see the dramatic rock formations as the sun sets behind them. Sucre is a great place to see some of Bolivia’s history on a tour of the city. The Gate of The Sun may sound grand, and it is - as just one of the amazing places in Bolivia to see the country's intriguing culture. Constructed by the ancient Tiwanaku people of Bolivia’s past, this location is a definite must-see during your visit here.
- Volcanoes and mountains: as you might have guessed, Bolivia’s landscape is scattered with volcanoes and mountains, making it a perfect place for hiking, trekking, and all-round exploration. Parinacota Volcano is one of Bolivia’s most breath-taking sites. This dormant volcano’s snow-capped summit makes for a memorable moment of any trip. In Licancabur Volcano’s foothills you can find a stunning blue lake that makes this volcano one of the best for scenic viewing, photography, or simply getting to see a remarkable site during your travels. To the north of the Salar de Uyuni lies the beautiful Tunupa Volcano, where you can trek and explore to your heart’s content.
- Wildlife and birdlife: Bolivia’s wildlife is unlike that of any other country, boasting an array of endearing species such as the Giant Otter, Jaguar, Guanaco, and the spectacled bear. You can observe jaguars in the wild at one of Bolivia’s top national parks, Kaa Iya National Park, where specialist guides will tell you all about the elusive feline and any other species you may encounter. The unique spectacled bear is best spotted in the Madidi National Park and with the help of a guide you may be luck enough to see one of these mysterious nocturnal creatures. Bolivia is also known for its birdlife and is a fantastic place to visit whether you are a bird fanatic or a bird-watching amateur. Amboro National Park holds over 800 species of bird, for example, so you’re bound to see a huge range of beautiful creatures.
What to do in Bolivia
Bolivia is what you might describe as an all-round holiday destination, as loved by honeymooners as it is by families and groups of adventure-seeking friends. With such an abundance of activities and excursions on offer all across the country, however, it can be hard to know where to start, which is why we’re here to lend a helping hand with a quick list of some of the most popular things to do in Bolivia:
- Explore archaeological sites: strap on your Indiana Jones hat and prepare to jump back thousands of years in time at the fascinating ruins of Isla Del Sol, one of the best-known historical places in Bolivia. Tiwanaku is yet another incredible site to visit if you want to see some of the country's best cultural offerings. This prehistoric city dates back to as early as 536-600 AD and is full of amazing buildings and sculptures to explore. If you plan on visiting the city of Sucre then make sure you take a tour of Sucre Cathedral, a must for history lovers.
- Go trekking in the Andes: for the best climbing and hiking in the Andes, travellers should head to Huayna Potosi, which is a challenging and rewarding climb by any standards, complete with incredible views from the top and throughout the entire route. The Bolivian Andes is perhaps the most beautiful part of the entire mountain range. No matter your ability or fitness level, there is something here for everyone. Be sure to stop off at the Pampa Leon Canyon and Lake Livinosa on the way. If you're anything like us, you'll appreciate both a scenic break from trekking and the chance to snap up some beautiful holiday pictures to take home with you.
- Hunt for dinosaur fossils: dinosaurs? You heard us right! Anyone that's ever seen Jurassic Park and felt a little jealousy (minus the T-Rex part) should set their sights on Cal Orcko Cretaceous Park in Sucre. The site is bursting with natural scenery and scenic walking routes, but that’s not all that can be found here - you’ll also be able to see prehistoric fossils, some with rather surprising origins. One notable specimen of dinosaur footprints goes directly up a sheer cliff face, an impressive memento from back when the cliff was just horizontal ground. In fact, the entire region of Chuquisaca is covered with fossils, making it a haven for paleontologists and tourists alike.
- Head out on a 4x4 tour: a Bolivian self-drive adventure is a fantastic way to take in as much of this unbeatable country as possible at your own pace. Feel the wind in your hair as you speed across the seemingly never-ending Salar de Uyuni, or go wild on the desert routes and dusty roads that lead to Chile. Drive around the foothills of one of the country’s volcanoes to get a sense of its scale and see the landscape from a new perspective. Whatever areas you choose to cover, an off-road tour is a great way to get away from the more touristy sites and immerse yourself in Bolivia's rugged terrains.
- Visit a ‘Witch Market’: Bolivia is home to some weird and wonderful tourist attractions, one prime example being its famous Witches' Market or 'El Mercado de las Brujas,' located in La Paz. Here you can buy ingredients for natural remedies, spells, or pretty much anything your imagination could dream up. Even if you’re not in the market for these kinds of ingredients, it’s worth a trip just to see this quirky and unusual spot. Who knows, you might even pick up a new skill or hobby while you're there.
For the best tips, information, and inspiration to plan your holiday to Bolivia, ask the experts: Evaneos' hand-picked local travel agencies based there. As well as providing unparalleled local knowledge including access to hidden gems and advice on how to avoid tourist-traps, they'll organise the trip of a lifetime for you based around your needs and interests.
Best time to visit Bolivia
Deciding when to go to Bolivia is easy once you’re armed with a few pieces of key knowledge about the location and its typical weather. The peak season is the cooler winter, which falls between May and October and sees an influx of tourists and other visitors. Make sure to book accommodation and activities in advance to avoid disappointment if you're planning a holiday during these months. The summer is the rainy, humid season and generally falls between November and April. Prices will be lower so this can be a great time to visit if budget is a concern. Active travellers and any other visitors planning on trekking, hiking or spending time in the mountainous regions will need to bring warm clothes since the temperatures can vary dramatically between the lowlands and locations at higher altitudes. Bolivia’s festivals are a great excuse to visit and the most famous are the Carnival in February or March, The Che Guevara Festival in October, and finally, the Bolivian Independence Day in August.
Travel tips and advice for travelling to Bolivia
Visa regulations for Bolivia
Travelling to Bolivia couldn’t be easier, since EU citizens can actually visit the country without a visa for a period of 90 days per year. For more information on specific circumstances, however, we recommend that check out Bolivia’s visa regulations on the embassy website of your home country.
Safety in Bolivia
Many people taking a trip to Bolivia or South America for the first time have one main question: ‘is Bolivia safe?’ Rest assured, Bolivia is one of the safest countries in South America, however, it is still common for tourists to fall prey to scams if they don’t have their wits about them. Try to avoid walking alone or in the dark if possible and make sure that any flashy valuables are hidden from sight during your trip. Many safety tips for travelling in Bolivia can be guessed by following simple common sense, so you shouldn’t find it too challenging to stay safe here. There are a few pervasive scams that are common in Bolivia, such as robbers dressed as policemen in order to get close to tourists. As long as you're aware that you need to exercise more caution than you would in your home country then the trip will likely run smoothly.