Best places to visit in BOLIVIA
Are you planning a trip to Bolivia and are wondering what are the best places to visit in Bolivia?
Bolivia is a country located in western-central South America. It is a popular tourist destination, especially for backpackers and budget travellers. Bolivia is diverse and has a lot to offer to its visitors. Salt flats, deserts, mountains, buzzing cities, ancient ruins, unforgettable landmarks and jungles.
But what exactly to see in Bolivia?
To help you with the task of planning, we’ve created this list of some of the best things to do in Bolivia.
7 best places to visit in Bolivia
Uyuni Salt Flat
Salar de Uyuni is a large salt flat located in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes.
With an area of over 10,000 square kilometres, Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat. It has an elevation of 3,656 meters above sea level and is surrounded by mountains.
A three-day jeep tour around the salt flat is one of the best things to do in Bolivia. It’s truly an unforgettable experience. You’ll see impressive salt and rock formations, coloured lakes, geysers, hot springs and flamingo flocks. You’ll be amazed at the vastness of the salt flat.
Uyuni Salt Flat has been used as a filming location for several movies.
Death Road (Officially — North Yungas Road) is a narrow mountain road.
It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bolivia. Usually, travellers explore it on a bicycle.
The road is called the “Death Road” due to the steep slopes, the narrowness of the road, lack of guardrails, fog and rain. The tourist route is a 64-km-long road with 3500 metres of descent. Boasting beautiful lush scenery and heart-stopping descents, the road attracts thrill-seekers from across the world.
Many local tour operators offer downhill mountain biking tours to this undeniably dangerous road. That’s why it is important to choose a trustworthy company. Do not be attracted by cheap prices. Like anywhere else in the world, you get what you pay for. So, make sure the company you have chosen offers well-maintained bikes with good brakes, as brakes are obviously essential.
Despite the dangers, the Death Road is one of the best things to do in Bolivia.
La Paz is the third-most populous city and one of the best places to visit in Bolivia.
Backed by snow-capped peaks, La Paz is one of the most beautiful destinations in Bolivia.
Definitely spend a couple of days in La Paz — not only just to explore this beautiful city but also to acclimatise. At 3,640 m above sea level, La Paz is the highest capital city in the world. It is crucial you take your time acclimatising to high altitudes.
La Paz is home to several landmarks belonging to colonial times. Thanks to the topography, there are several viewpoints that offer sweeping views of the city and the mountains in the background. La Paz is home to the longest urban cable car network in the world, Teleférico La Paz. It’s not only a popular tourist attraction but also a part of the public transport system in La Paz. The cable car is a great way to get around the city.
La Paz has many markets. The Witches’ Market (El Mercado de las Brujas) has shops run by healers who sell potions, talismans, medicinal plants and some animal body parts (e.g., dried llama foetuses). Mercado 16 de Julio is a massive market that stretches for many blocks. It is considered one of the largest street markets in Bolivia and Latin America. In this market, you can buy just about anything.
Valle de la Luna
Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) is a popular tourist attraction near La Paz.
Situated just some 12 km from the city, Valle de la Luna is a very popular day trip option from La Paz.
With its unique erosion patterns, jagged rocks and tall spires, it’s really an unusual place to visit.
Lake Titicaca and Isla del Sol
Lake Titicaca is a lake in the Andes on the border of Bolivia and Peru.
It’s the largest lake in South America and, with a surface elevation of 3,812 m, it is the highest commercially navigable lake in the world.
Isla del Sol is an island in the southern part of Lake Titicaca and a popular tourist attraction. It is one of the largest islands of the lake and one of the best places to visit in Bolivia. The hilly island has no paved roads and no motorised vehicles. There are more than 100 ruins on the island. Most of the ruins date to the Inca period. According to the Inca legend, the sun was created in this place.
If you are visiting Lake Titicaca, do not miss Tiwanaku. It is a Pre-Columbian archaeological site and one of the largest sites in South America. The complex comprises a temple with carved images of human heads, stone monoliths and the large Gate of the Sun arch.
Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa
Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve is the most visited protected area in the country.
The Reserve is noted for its natural beauty. The major attractions are volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, sandy deserts and lakes.
The most famous places in the protected area are:
- Laguna Colorada — a shallow, red salt lake;
- Laguna Verde — a salt lake with green water created by its mineral content, located at the foot of the volcano Licancabur;
- Sol de Mañana — a geothermal area with sulphur springs, mud lakes and steam pools;
- Salvador Dalí Desert — an extremely barren valley;
- Árbol de Piedra — an unusual rock formation that resembles a tree.
The Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest.
The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil and only in minor amounts in Bolivia. But still, you can visit the Amazon during your trip to Bolivia. In fact, exploring the Bolivian side of the rainforest is more budget-friendly than doing it in Brazil.
Head to Rurrenabaque which is a small town and a gateway to the Amazon rainforest. In Rurrenabaque, you can book various guided tours to the Yacuma river and Madidi National Park (one of the most biodiverse places in the world).
Bolivia travel tips
- Citizens or nationals of many countries may enter Bolivia without a visa.
- In Bolivia, there are different types of climate depending on area and altitude. This can be confusing, but during your trip, you can travel through multiple climate zones and altitudes. Pack a variety of layers and bring sturdy hiking shoes, a quality rain jacket and waterproof trousers. So, if you plan to visit the mountains, take into account that during the night, the temperatures can drop to below freezing.
- A lot of popular tourist attractions in Bolivia are high-altitude. You need to know how to deal with altitude. It is crucial to acclimatise when travelling to high altitude regions in Bolivia. Ascending too quickly can cause altitude sickness.
- The best time to visit Bolivia is from May to October. It’s the country’s dry season with clear skies and dry weather. However, the highlands will be cold. Pack accordingly if you are visiting the highlands.
- The cheapest and easiest way to travel between the cities is by bus, however, there are long-distance overnight buses.
- If you travel on an overnight bus, choose a “cama” (bed) bus seat. These types of seats lie flat and are great for long journeys. There are also semi-cama buses (semi-flat) where seats recline 140 degrees and regular seat buses.
- Bolivia is somewhat safe to visit, but you still should be careful. Always keep your valuables on you (especially on a bus ride), be aware of your surroundings and learn a bit of Spanish.
- Be aware of fake police in Bolivia. The “police” will randomly ask tourists for documents, accuse them of engaging in illegal activities and ask for money (or they will steal your valuables).