Bolivia has a lot to offer for travelers, both in terms of organized tours and some independent travel.
Choose from sporting adventures, hiking, or exploring charming towns and cities. There is certainly a lot of beauty to be found in this understated country of South America.
Things to Do in Bolivia
The Death Road (North Yungas Road including the old section): from La Cumbre to Coroico.
This 64km mountain bike tour reveals the diversity of Bolivia while enjoying a scenic adventure along the way. Tours tend to leave from La Cumbre, which is situated 5000m above sea level, where the climate is cool and windy, and get to Coroico, which is a wetter and tropical environment.
You have the option of taking your own bike and doing the long ride down independently, or you can join a tour group from La Paz. It is recommended to err on the side of caution if choosing to bike ride solo. Keeping in single file, if riding with others, keeping a safe distance between each rider and going slowly around corners are common sense advice to all bike riders.
It is very important to use a good mountain bike, one with front shock absorbers at least, and of course, a helmet. Any additional protection you choose to wear or use is up to you.
If you opt for the tour, you will receive all the necessary equipment, instructions, and guidance. Most tours do allow you to stop along the way for breaks, a chance to take pictures, but you won’t have the same freedom as doing the ride by yourself.
All in all, the Death Road is a unique experience, and despite the name, a thrilling and safe adventure for those who embrace it.
Explore the Provinces
Many parts of Bolivia are untouched, making a great opportunity for exploration to learn and discover the country for yourself.
The countryside hosts friendly locals, and there is plenty of opportunity for you to grab a map and get exploring. Sometimes the most memorable adventures you have are not the ones from guide books, or with a tour.
Using La Paz as a base, you can quite easily take local transport to places like Pelechuco, the east side of Lake Titicaca, Achacachi, Isla del Sol, or Quime. There are also many small villages and towns which you can visit independently.
There is a free government tour agency located in the Plaza Estudiantes or Prado who can provide you with information and advice regarding transport to nearby towns and villages that you wish to explore.
Visit the Salt Flat (Salar de Uyuni)
The Salt Flat of Bolivia, located in the Southwest of the Andes, is the largest in the world. It is also situated at an elevation of 3,656m above sea level.
The salt flat is rich in lithium, and is home to several species of pink flamingos. It is a popular breeding ground for these exotic birds, and the diversity of wildlife and scenic beauty is stunning.
Tours tend to be for 3-5 days, depending on your itinerary, budget, and time. They can be arranged from La Paz, or at the town of Uyuni itself.
There are many tour operators to choose from, all competing for sales, so take your time finding one that best suits you. It is also possible to include a border crossing into Chile in your tour, ending in the Atacama Desert in San Pedro.
Travel Tips for Bolivia
If you are planning to visit Bolivia, here are some travel tips that can aid your planning for the trip.
1. VISAS – When traveling to Bolivia, it is always best to check current advice and information regarding visa rules and regulations, as they can vary or be changed at any time. Currently, citizens of EU countries, Britain, Australia, Canada, can stay up to 90 days without a visa for touristic purposes; you will be granted an initial 30-day stay which you can extend for a further 60 days. Citizens of the USA do require a visa, which can be obtained in advance or upon entry ($160). Nationals of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta and Romania also require a visa to enter Bolivia, however there is no fee attached.
2. MONEY & CURRENCY – The local currency in Bolivia is the Boliviano. US dollars are accepted throughout the country; dollars can be exchanged mostly in cash. Most credit cards can be used in larger cities.
3. HEALTH & RISKS – The prime health risk in Bolivia is altitude sickness. Tropical diseases like malaria, dengue, and yellow fever are a threat only for the people heading to remote parts of the country such as the Amazon jungle. You will find adequate medical care in large cities, but of varying quality. Best to ensure you have valid medical and travel insurance that covers you for all activities planned (and those unplanned) for your trip.
4. CUSTOMS REGULATIONS – It is illegal to take archaeological objects such as fossils out of Bolivia without prior written permission by the appropriate Bolivian authority. Violation of the law can result in lengthy jail sentences and fines.
5. WHEN TO GO – Located in the Southern Hemisphere, Bolivia’s winter runs from the months of May to October and summer is from November to April. An important factor to keep in mind for the climate is that it’s generally wet in the summer and dry in the winter.
The high season for tourists falls in the winter (June to September), due to European and North American summer holidays, which also coincides with Bolivia’s season of fiestas. This means that both foreign visitors and a lot of South Americans are traveling during this period.
If your schedule is flexible and want to travel out of high season, Bolivia is quieter throughout the winter (dry season). The prices for hotels and tours are lower and you can make the most of out-of-season discounts throughout your travels.