Bolivia has been blessed with a stunning range of landscapes for visitors to enjoy. There is so much more to Bolivia than just the Salt Flats. While it may not have its own coastline to boast of it has pretty much everything else. From the rainforest lowlands in the east to the soaring peaks of the Altiplano in the west.
The winters in the Altiplano are harsh. Even the summer months at this altitude rarely reach higher than 10C. The powerful forces of the earth are shown on the earths surface in glimmering lakes of all colours thanks to their high mineral content. They may look beautiful but some are deadly to swim in. For more information check out my guide to Reserva Eduardo Avaroa, a vast national park with no roads but some of the most beautiful landscapes on this planet. You can’t talk about Bolivia and not mention the world’s largest and most famous Slat Flats either. Read up on them here
When To Go
The climate in Bolivia varies depending on the region you are in. The Tropical Lowland regions of Santa Cruz, Beni and Pando have clear cut wet and dry seasons. The heaviest rains are from September to May. The warmest months are December and January. The smaller Sub Andean Regions of Cochabamba, Tarija and Chuquisaca have a semi arid climate and pleasant average temperatures of between 15-27C. The high altitude Altiplano Regions of La Paz, Oruro and Potosí meanwhile have a wet season from December to March. If you plan on visiting the Salt Flats in these months be aware that they will largely be unnavigable due to flooding. The coldest and driest months are June and July. When I visited the temperature dropped to -15C on one night.
- May – Lowlands (low rainfall but vegetation is still lush from the wet season)
- June & July – Uyuni and the Altiplano (cold but dry)
- February-April – Festival Season in a lot of cities
Get Away From It All
Bolivia is considered one of the remotest countries in the western hemisphere. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of normal life then you can’t get much more removed than here. Bolivia has many national parks all unique in their own ways.
Half of the population is classed as Native American, the largest in Latin America. Despite Bolivia being far from the popularity of neighbours Argentina and Brazil in terms of tourism, Bolivians are remarkably welcoming to outsiders. There are important settlements in the country for Japanese and Lebanese people.
With a varied landscape, altitudes (spanning from 90 meters up to 6,542 meters) and multiple climatic regions, Bolivia is classed as a mega diverse country along with many others from Central America and its northern neighbour, Brazil.
With over 2900 animal species (398 mammals, over 1400 birds, 277 reptiles, 635 fish and 204 amphibians, Bolivia is a wildlife spotters dream destination.
What To See Where In Bolivia
- Big Mammals – Kaa Iya National Park: A rarely visited national park
- Anacondas & Bird Watching – Utuquis National Park: A remote area of the Pantanal within Bolivia’s borders.
- Hiking – Lomas de Arena & Samaipata Lomas de Arena is a huge protected area situated outside Santa Cruz. 14,000 hectares of desert give visitors the chance to spot wildlife while hiking some splendid trails. Get your adrenaline going by sand boarding in the dunes. Samaipata meanwhile acts as a base for explorers to venture out to the Amboro National Park. Trek the “Che Guevera Route” or one of several picturesque waterfalls in the area as well as the El Fuerte Ruins.
Make Your Dollars Go Further
Bolivia is one of the best value for money countries in South America when compared to its neighbours. Cost of living is low meaning you can find a good hostel, see some sights and eat out comfortably for around $40 per day. Even a visit to the vast Salar De Uyuni can be done on a budget for a day trip but popular 3 day excursions out onto the World’s largest salt flats won’t break the bank. The low cost of living and wonderful colonial architecture of Sucre, Bolivia’s Constitutional Capital, draws thousand of visitors annually. Many stay longer than intended and it has become one of the top places in South America for visitors to stay and study Spanish.
The best time to visit depends on what sights you want to see. With hot and humid jungle through to some of the highest peaks in the Andes via the worlds largest salt flats, Bolivia offers every visitor a unique choice. Whether cycling the worlds most dangerous road, seeing the largest collection of dinosaur footprints or visiting a working silver mine in the World’s highest city, Bolivia will surprise you.
You just need to get here and you will understand the allure for everyone that has visited before you.