Bolivia Travel Guide

Bolivia is the largest landlocked country in the America’s and has more than 13 different types of geography. Bolivia is a world leader in biodiversity… and has a climate that changes dramatically from one zone to another… from humid and tropical to cold and dry. A trip to Bolivia will make you feel as though you’ve transported yourself to another world. The most famous site in Bolivia is the world’s largest salt flat in Salar de Uyuni—a prehistoric lake that went dry and left behind a desertlike landscape of tons of bright white salt.

Girl who wrote Bolivia Travel Guide is sitting on a train track in Salar de Uyuni Bolivia. The girls image is reflected on the train track and mountains and desert are in the background.
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Know Before You Go

Language

Spanish is the official language of Bolivia and is spoken by the majority of the population. Some indigenous languages are also spoken and recognized as official languages in areas throughout the country.

When to Visit

There are two seasons in Bolivia: dry and wet. The dry season is from May to October and is considered to be the best time to visit. During the dry season, there is little precipitation but temperatures are cooler. The wet season is from November to March and is also an ok time to visit, as temperatures are warmer…but you there is also more precipitation. 

Currency & Payment

The official currency of Bolivia is the Bolivian Boliviano (BOB). Credit cards are accepted as a form of payment in major cities. Small cities and local vendors will only accept cash. ATMs can be found throughout the country.

Transportation

Transferring between regions in Bolivia is possible via bus or plane. Inner-city transportation varies. Major cities offer public buses and cabs. Rideshare apps such as Uber work in major cities. In some cities, motor scooters are available instead of taxis. Always negotiate the rate before getting into a motor scooter or taxi if there is no meter.

What to Pack

Here’s a list of suggested items to pack for Bolivia…in addition to what you’d automatically think to bring. 

  • Power adaptor: Bolivia uses plug types A and C. Plug type A is the plug that has two flat parallel pins and plug type C is the plug that has two round pins. Bolivia operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz.

  • Small backpack: This will be useful for any hike or excursion that you go on…including a visit to the salt flats where you will be required to walk a distance and at times ride a bike from one point to another.

  • Comfortable shoes: You’ll do a lot of walking in Bolivia, so be sure to bring comfortable shoes that you won’t mind getting dirty.

Experiences

Here’s a list of some top things to experience in Bolivia:

 

  1. Stroll the Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats: This area used to be a prehistoric lake that went dry, leaving behind a desertlike landscape of bright-white salt. Now, it’s the world’s largest salt flat. A trip here will make you feel like you’ve blasted off into another world. 

  2. Spend some time in La Paz: La Paz is the highest altitude capital city in the world. There are a lot of unique things to see here; such as the Witches’ Market of La Paz which sells quirky things like rodent poison. 

  3. Check out the Valley of the Moon: Valley of the Moon is located in La Paz but deserves its own blurb. This natural wonder is preserved in the middle of the city. Walking through it literally feels like walking through the moon, which is why it has its name. 

  4. Visit Copacabana: Copacabana is a small and special town on the edge of Lake Titicaca. The town is known for its religious festivals. There’s a really great hotel in this town called Hotel La Cupula which features 3 pet alpacas that the guests can play with. 

  5. Walk across Isla del Sol: From Copacabana, visitors can take a boat ride through Lake Titicaca to Isla del Sol. There, guests can take a walk across the island and interact with wildlife such as donkeys and alpaca. It is possible to stay the night, though there is minimal electricity on the island so many guests opt to return to Copacabana for accommodations there instead. 

  6. Cycle the world’s most dangerous road:  The North Yungas Road or, Death Road is dubbed as the world’s most dangerous road. There have been many accidents and deaths on this road throughout its grueling past. Now, updates have been made to make it safer – but still thrilling. Visitors often cycle down it at high speeds with guided tours and then get a prized t-shirt after that says, “I survived death road.”

  7. Explore the Bolivian Amazon: Part of the South American Amazon stretches into Bolivia. Adventurous types may opt to spend a night in a house within the Amazon and explore the surrounding biodiversity. 

  8. See the flamingos in Laguna Colorada: This place is magical and unique. It’s a Laguna, set in front of majestic mountains, and is home to hundreds of pink flamingos.

Fast Facts

sHere are some facts about Bolivia that you may have not already known!

  1. Lake Titicaca in Bolivia is shared with bordering country, Peru, and is the highest and deepest navigable lake in the world.

  2. The capital of Bolivia, La Paz is the highest administrative capital city in the world situated at an altitude of 11,910ft.

  3. The Salar de Uyuni salt beds contain the largest amount of natural salt in the world.

  4. Bolivia is named after Simón Bolívar, a Venezuelan leader in the Spanish American wars of independence.

  5. There have been over 36 official languages in Bolivia’s past, though some are now no longer practiced. 

  6. Bolivia has 10 national parks and 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

  7. You can find real witch doctors in Bolivia, called yatiri, roaming the streets. 

  8. Just like in it’s neighboring countries in South America, Cuy … or … guinea pig…is considered a delicacy to eat. 

  9. Over 75% of the population in Bolivia is Roman Catholic.

  10. Bolivia is one of the wettest countries in the world, with annual rainfall averaging 40 – 150 inches per year.

Budget Suggestions

Here’s a look at what you might spend on the basics during a trip to Bolivia. Costs may fluctuate based on the region that you visit or the time of year that you go. This estimate is based on what it would cost to go to La Paz, Bolivia. 

 

Item

Budget Travel

Mid-Range

High End

Notes

Accommodation

$8 – $12/Night (Hostel dorm)

$25 – $60/Night 

(Airbnb or hotel)

$60 – $200+/night (Hotel)

Hostelworld.com, Booking.com & Airbnb are good resources for affordable housing.

Food

$2 – $5/meal
(Local Food)

$7 – $15/meal
(average restaurant)

$20 – $60+/meal
(high-end restaurant)

Ask for the “menu del dia” during lunch at local restaurants and you’ll get a 3-5 course lunch for $4-$10. 

Alcohol

$2 – $5
(Domestic Drinks)

$6 – $10
(Cocktails, Wines, etc.)

Transportation

$.36/way 

(public transport)

$1.40/base + $1.75/km 

(public taxi)

Explore from Home

Due to COVID-19, it’s not as possible to travel freely. Because of this, I wanted to share some resources for experiencing the country virtually. 

  1. Discover Bolivia in 4K

  2. Take a 360 tour of Bolivia