Holidays & Sabbaticals to Bolivia – In a Nutshell
Bolivia is a land-locked country of staggering natural beauty, and a must on any South American itinerary for travellers seeking to venture off the beaten path.
The extremes of topography flow from the snow-capped Andes to the barren Altiplano, via steamy Amazonian jungle, the Cordillero volcanoes and the otherworldly Salar de Uyuni.
It has the largest concentration of indigenous people in South America (there are 30 native languages), and traditions, customs and colourful parades permeate everyday life.
You’ll see cholitas (indigenous women) wearing traditional skirts and bowler hats everywhere you go.
La Paz is the highest capital in the world, and feels gritty and urban, while pretty Sucre harks back to its Spanish days, with red-roofed white colonial houses.
It’s an incredible place for wildlife lovers, one of the most bio-diverse countries on the planet, with 40% of the world’s animal and plant life. Spot Spectacled Andean Bears in Parque Nacional Madidi or the endangered blue-throated macaw in Amboro.
How to Get to Bolivia
You can travel overland from Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil and Peru as part of a longer South American itinerary.
If you arrive by plane from overseas, you’ll fly into in La Paz’s El Alto airport, Sucre’s Juana Azurduy de Padilla airport, Santa Cruz’s Viru-Viru airport, or Cochabamba’s Jorge Wilstermann airport. Flight time from the UK is approx. 12 hours, via the US.
If you’re coming from the US, you can fly direct from several major hubs; direct flights are approx. 9-10 hours.
There are hopper flights from the international airport to 37 domestic airports. Distances are vast so this is a popular option.
Or travel overland by bus (flotas) or sleeper buses but be warned, as many of the roads are unpaved.
When & Weather – Bolivia
Bolivia’s climate is very varied, due to the vast range of altitudes it covers. Simultaneously it can be equatorial in the north, tropical in the south, arid in the Altiplano and cold in the mountains.
The Dry Season runs from May to October, when days are bright but nights get very cold. Rainy Season runs from November to March, and the lowlands can experience flooding.
Temperatures range between 15°C (60°F) and 27°C (80°F).
Who will Bolivia Appeal To?
The country’s stunning natural landscapes, thrill-seeking activities and indigenous cultural traditions are best suited to:
- Active travellers
- Adventure seekers
- Solo travellers
- Wildlife lovers
- Culture lovers
Bolivia isn’t an obvious luxury travel destination but it epitomises experiential and this is true of the wonderfully quirky accommodation. From character posadas (inns) and intimate family-run boutique hotels to glamping in the national parks, luxury pods on the Uyuni salt-flats or stays in renovated airstream campers.
Off The Beaten Path
- Take the cable car from La Paz up to El Alto for its bi-weekly Mercado 16 de Julio, Bolivia’s largest open-air market. A fascinating blend of indigenous culture and modern life, you can buy everything from trainers to llama fetuses.
- The untouched village of Chipaya is a traditional Indian community few tourists ever reach.
- Hike around the cactus-strewn deserts and dazzling Laguna Verde, a remote green lake at the foot of a volcano in the Altiplano.
- Mountain bike down ‘the world’s most dangerous road’, where you’ll descend winding mountain passes which are thrilling and terrifying in equal parts.
- Parts of Noel Kempff Mercado National Park are an untouched wilderness, only reachable by chartered plane.
- Swap touristy Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca for tiny Isla Pariti, one of the ceremonial centres of the ancient culture Tiwanaku and a more peaceful experience of the reed islands.
- Go wine tasting in Tarija, home to some of the highest-altitude vineyards in the world.
- Visit a native Aymara community in Sajama National Park to watch them weave textiles from llama wool. The stunning Sajama National Park is also home to thermal springs, cave paintings and the mighty Cordillera volcanoes.
- Bolivia offers some of the best climbing in South America, including the Huayna Potosi, perhaps the easiest 6,000m peak in the world.
- Wild jaguar roam through the remote Kaa lya National Park.
- Swim with pink river dolphin in the Amazon near Rurrenabaque.
- The endangered blue-throated macaw is endemic to Bolivia. Spot it in Amboro National Park, along with 830 other bird species.
- Several species of pink flamingo live on the Laguna Colorado, and breed on Salar de Uyuni every summer.
- Madidi National Park is a hotspot for Andean Spectacled Bears. These nocturnal animals spend daylight hours asleep in trees.
- Alpacas, guanaco and llamas are ubiquitous on the Altiplano, as are the rabbit-like viscacha.
- You may also see tapir, capybara, chinchillas, maned wolf, giant otters and – if you’re lucky (or unlucky!) – anaconda.
Bolivia Experiences you shouldn’t miss:
- Camping on the Salt Flats of Uyuni; sunsets and sunrises are spectacular.
- Wandering around the exuberant capital La Paz.
- Remote jungle camping around Rurrenabaque National Park.
- Cycling mountain roads to the tropics of the Yungas.
- Descending the silver mines of characterful Potosi.
- Visiting off-the beaten path Jesuit ruins.
- Boating around Lake Titicaca.
For anyone with a passion for wildlife, spend some time with the Inti Wara Yassi Community whose mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and care for wild animals seized from illegal trafficking, and fight to end the animal trade through educational programs, research projects and public actions. Inti Wara Yassi operates three wildlife sanctuaries throughout Bolivia. Professionals, interns and volunteers are welcomed at each sanctuary to engage in rescue operations and the rehabilitation and care of wildlife.
Our experienced team will guide you through a number of ideas based on how you would like to experience Bolivia.
Consider visiting Bolivia in combination with Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil or Peru.
Browse our gallery for inspiration and read the sample itinerary below to whet your appetite. Mix rainforest glamping with boutique hotels, conservation-focused activities and adrenaline-fuelled experiences.
No matter how long you wish to travel, we’ll guide you through the planning process to ensure a trip is carefully pieced together to suit your interests, pace of travel and budget.
Contact us to start planning a holiday or sabbatical to Bolivia.