Bolivia

Bold and brash, Bolivia lifts travellers to its dizzying heights with stunning scenery, legendary landmarks and a rich, indigenous heritage. Bolivia is an energetic, enigmatic piece of South American sorcery – alive with passion, awash with colour, connected to the past but living very much in the present. Leave Bolivia off your travel list at your own peril.

Bolivia Tours & Travel

All our Bolivia trips

Bolivia Highlights

12 days from
USD $1,435
CAD $1,555
AUD $1,525
EUR €1,050
GBP £845
NZD $1,700
ZAR R15,265
CHF FR1,270

Visit South America and travel to Bolivia. Travel from La Paz to Sucre, visit the city of Potosi, tour Salar de Uyuni...

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Explore Bolivia & Argentina

20 days from
USD $2,350
CAD $2,545
AUD $2,495
EUR €1,715
GBP £1,385
NZD $2,780
ZAR R24,975
CHF FR2,080

Get off the tourist trail on this extraordinary adventure through Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. Visit historic Potosi...

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La Paz to Cuzco

12 days from
USD $1,750
CAD $1,840
AUD $1,879
EUR €1,299
GBP £1,109
NZD $2,106
ZAR R17,593
CHF FR1,557

Discover Incan heartlands on this Overland Bolivia and Peru tour. Travel from La Paz to Cuzco and take in Lake...

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La Paz to Lima

22 days from
USD $2,640
CAD $2,762
AUD $2,815
EUR €1,977
GBP £1,685
NZD $3,207
ZAR R26,230
CHF FR2,349

Travel from La Paz to Lima and discover the vibrant heart of Inca culture. Trek an Inca trail and visit Colca Canyon,...

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Unveil South America

48 days from
USD $6,245
CAD $6,445
AUD $6,320
EUR €4,350
GBP £3,650
NZD $7,040
ZAR R63,260
CHF FR5,265

Visit South America and travel through Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Uruguay. Visit Potosi, Salar de Uyuni,...

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Spirit of South America

32 days from
USD $3,920
CAD $4,045
AUD $3,965
EUR €2,730
GBP £2,290
NZD $4,415
ZAR R39,690
CHF FR3,300

Discover the very best of South America on this awesome travel adventure. Explore the ever-changing landscape and...

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Bolivian Salt Flats

4 days from
AUD $995

Travel from picturesque La Paz to the spellbinding Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat on the planet.

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Bolivia trip reviews

Our Bolivia trips score an average of 4.47 out of 5 based on 32 reviews in the last year.

Bolivia Highlights, June 2014

Bolivia Highlights, May 2014

Articles on Bolivia

Got the food blues in Bolivia

Posted on Tue, 16 Oct 2012 by Jacqueline Donaldson

Jacqueline Donaldson discovered a drink made from corn that's a curious colour but a great local treat...

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Ben’s top 5 in Bolivia

Posted on Mon, 18 Jul 2011 by Sue Elliot

"Besides the dust and the bouts of altitude sickness, I have been lucky to have some great experiences and see some amazing landscapes..."

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see bolivia to believe it

Posted on Wed, 2 Jun 2010 by Sue Elliot

If your Top 10 includes the world’s best off-the-beaten-track destinations, then you’ll understand why Southern Adventure – La Paz to Rio has made Intrepid’s list. As Intrepid Express reader Paul [...]

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bolivia devil below ground

Posted on Wed, 28 Oct 2009 by Sue Elliot

Being stuck below ground is our worst nightmare, but imagine if you were forced to look the devil in the eye every morning as you headed into the subterranean world. [...]

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About Bolivia

At a glance

Trips Available: 13
Capital city: Sucre (constitutional, population 225,000); La Paz (administrative, population 880,000)
Population: 9.9 million
Language: Quechua, Spanish, Aymara
Currency: BOB
Time zone: (GMT-04:00) La Paz
Electricity: Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type C (European 2-pin)
Dialing code: +591

Best time to visit Bolivia

May to October (winter) is generally considered to be the best time to visit Bolivia, as days are usually dry and clear. Summer (November to April) is the rainy season, and during this time it can get hot and humid. The peak tourist season runs from late June to early September. This season holds the best weather for travel, but is Bolivia's main fiesta season and holiday period, so some disruptions can be expected at times.

bolivia weather map chart

Geography and environment

Laguna verde, Bolivia
One of only two landlocked nations on the South American continent, Bolivia is a mixture of highland plains, lush valleys, steep canyons and tropical forests. Bordering Peru and Chile in the west, Bolivia extends across the Andes ranges, cradling its capital city (La Paz) within the high plateau of the Altiplano. Over 40% of Bolivians live in this mountainous area, a landscape of volcanic flats and craggy peaks. Further west are two of Bolivia’s most contrasting features. To the southwest lies the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth, while the far northwest encompasses Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest lake.

Top Picks

'Death road'

Top 10 Bizarre Bits of Bolivia

1. Giant Frogs

No, Lake Titicaca’s high altitude isn’t causing you to hallucinate – you may have just caught a glimpse of the world’s largest aquatic frog. Measuring in at up to 50 centimetres long (the size of an adult foot!), the extremely rare Titicaca Water Frog can weigh up to 3 kilograms.

2. Lost City of Titicaca

So you weren’t hallucinating when you thought you saw a giant frog, but surely there's nothing else hiding beneath Titicaca’s surface? Wrong again. In 1988, taking hints from a local legend, divers descended to Titicaca’s murky depths and discovered a real-life lost city. The temple complex, believed to be pre-Inca, is said to be over 1,500 years old.

3. El Tio and the Potosi Mines

A sombre experience at the best of times, the plight of the Potosi miners is one of Bolivia’s more tragic tales. In many ways emblematic of this are the ghastly effigies of El Tio, the guardian of the mines and the god of the underworld. Workers offer cigarettes and coca leaves in the hope that they will receive good fortune, paying their respects to this terrifying spirit on each descent into the darkness of the mines.

4. Macho Valley

Not known for their subtlety, Bolivians have named this valley ‘Macho’ for a reason. Meaning ‘male’ in Spanish, this collection of phallic shaped rock formations is a sight for sore eyes.

5. Bolivian Bus-Train

Looking for a cheaper way to travel from Sucre to Potosi? Look no further than the Bolivian bus-train, a transport innovation like no other. Faced with the dilemma of having a complete railway but no train, locals simply converted a bus, swapping its tires for tracks. The result? A scenic and thrilling way to ascend this 4,000 metre climb - all for the very fair price of $3.50!

6. The ‘Death Road’

If the Bolivian bus-train doesn’t get your blood pumping, the harrowing ‘Death Road’ may literally send you over the edge. Snaking its way across the Yungas toward the Amazon rainforest, this road is among the world's most dangerous. But try telling that to the locals, who insist on driving massive trucks and buses at brisk speeds along its narrow, twisting path – at least affording their terrified passengers the views of a lifetime.

7. Women’s Wrestling

Bolivia’s newest sporting phenomenon comes in the form of feisty 'cholitas' (women). These ladies compete in professional wrestling bouts around the country, much to delight of their adoring fans. Part circus, part sport, all female - these unique sportswomen are undoubtedly some of wrestling’s fiercest competitors.

8. Witches’ Market

Creepy masks and odd trinkets sold by astrologists and sorcerers - Bolivia’s famous Witches’ Market never fails to leave a lasting impression. See real-life witches selling potions, casting spells and stirring cauldrons - this madhouse market is full of wacky characters and strange souvenirs.

9. Salt Hotel

Apart from being one of Bolivia’s most famous attractions, the Salar de Uyuni salt plain offers one of the quirkiest accommodation options on the market. For 30 dollars a night, visitors to the world’s largest salt flat can stay in a hotel made entirely from salt. That’s right, salt floors, a salt roof, a salt bar and even a salt dining table. One things for sure, you won’t be asking anyone to “pass the salt” in this zany hotel.

10. The Dinosaur Wall

Discovered by Bolivian construction workers in 1994, Cal Orko (or the Dinosaur Wall) is a prehistoric oddity of epic proportions. Found on the banks of a cement quarry, this collection of over 5,000 tracks from 330 different species of dinosaurs is a rarity in the world of palaeontology. Over 68 million years old, it's thought that this quarry was previously a gigantic lake, its steep slopes once traversed by gravity-defying dinosaurs keen for a drink. Nowadays, this precious landmark is beginning to crumble - resulting in conservation efforts from the Bolivian government.

FAQs on Bolivia

BOLIVIA TOURIST VISA
Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Not required
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
United States: Yes - in advance

Please note: if you are required to apply for a visa to enter Bolivia, you will need the following to support it:
- a copy of the Intrepid voucher that you receive after purchasing your trip
- a copy of the Itinerary which you can obtain from the Trip Notes for your specific trip on our website.
While tipping isn't mandatory in Bolivia, it's customary to add spare change or a small amount to restaurant bills. Although most restaurants and bars may already include a 10% service charge within the bill, feel free to add more if the service was good. Taxi drivers generally don't expect tips.
Internet cafes can be found in Bolivia's large cities and towns frequented by tourists. Internet availability is less widespread in rural and remote areas, so be prepared to disconnect for a while when travelling out of the city.
You should be able to use your mobile phone in Bolivia's cities, but prepare for less coverage in remote or mountainous areas. Ensure you have global roaming enabled before leaving your home country.
Bolivia has a mix of flushable toilets and squat toilets so expect both. It's a good idea to carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitiser, as these aren't always provided.
City bus fare = 1.50 BOB
Cup of coffee in a cafe = 10 BOB
Bottle or can of beer = 10 BOB
Simple lunch = 20-25 BOB
Dinner in a restaurant = 80 BOB
Drinking tap water isn't recommended in Bolivia. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water - ask your leader where filtered water can be found. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.
Credit cards can be used at most top-end hotels, restaurants, shops and other tourist establishments. Expect to pay cash when dealing with smaller vendors, family-run restaurants and market stalls.
ATMs can be found in most of Bolivia's major cities and tourist areas. ATMs are far less common in rural areas and small villages so have enough cash to cover purchases when travelling away from the larger cities.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: [site:intrepid_insurance_link]
Jan 1 New Year's Day
Feb 11 Carnival
Mar 29 Good Friday
May 1 Labour Day
May 30 Corpus Christi
Aug 6 Independence Day
Nov 1 All Saints' Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day

Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/bolivia/public-holidays

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Bolivia Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for Bolivia

1. Be considerate of Bolivia’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.

2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.

3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

4. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!

5. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.

6. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

7. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

8. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

9. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Whispering in the Giant's EarWilliam Powers
The PearlJohn Steinbeck
Devil in the Mountain: A Search for the Origin of the AndesSimon Lamb
American VisaJuan de Recacoechea
1491Charles C. Mann