Ever since I visited Peru, I knew Bolivia would be on my travel radar. I mean, the whole country is so stunning and there’s seems to be an endless supply of natural sites, yummy food (I’m naming you, Salteñas ????) and some of the best things to do in Bolivia. It really is a diverse country that’s choc-o-block filled with some amazing experiences for us travellers to have.
Obviously, when planning any trip, especially if you’re short on time, you’ll want to find the very best things to do that are right up your street. After all, no one likes wasting time on a trip! With that in mind, I wanted to share some of my top spots on places you should think about visiting on your trip to Bolivia. You’re going to have the best trip!
Read more, below, on the best things to do in Bolivia. ????????
1.) Bike across North Yungas Road
Also called the “Death Road”, this scary stretch is officially included in many lists of the earth’s most dangerous routes. It connects La Paz to Yungas and is one heck of a drive that will have you sweating through every pore of your body
The road first climbs up to 4650 meters at what’s called the La Cumbre Pass and then descends steeply to 1200 meters at Coroico. This steep descent is one of the longest downhill stretches in the world and possibly one of the best things to do in Bolivia.
The road itself is only 3.5 meters wide and has many unpaved sections that are VERY treacherous. While one side of the road is solid rock, the other side is a 600-metre abyss. Honestly, carelessness costs lives on this road, so be extra safe if you do go or choose a reputable company to travel with.
2.) Visit Salar de Uyuni
The salt flats are stunning, aren’t they? I mean, this alone is one of the best things to do in Bolivia but can often be pretty difficult to do alone and a guide is often a safe bet when wanting to visit.
This seemingly endless landscape of salt left behind by a dried up prehistoric lake stretches as far as the eye can see (a whopping 11000 sq-km if you want to get totally technical) and is an amazing sight to behold. In fact, I think it’s still the largest salt flat anywhere in the world!
To be honest, I always think it’s safest to book a tour to visit Salar de Uyuni and join one of the many guided treks – it’s a sight you can’t miss. Lots of the tours start around Uyuni but you can easily organise these when you’re in bigger cities like La Paz.
3.) See the sunset at Valle de la Luna
Valle de la Luna is what remains of a clay and sandstone mountain that was battered over time by strong winds and rains and totally one of the best things to do in Bolivia (especially if you’re into gorgeous landscapes).
Today, it looks like a maze of canyons and stalagmites and it’s really quite unique and bizarre. Apparently, though I’m still not too sure if I should believe them but, apparently, Neil Armstrong gave it its name!
Head out on a trek of the valley, explore the area and always go with a trained guide that’s familiar with the climate and geography. No one wants to get lost here. The valley is only about 15-miles, or so, from San Pedro and can easily be reached by car or with a guide.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can rent a bike to do the route, just be prepared for lots of dusty, hilly and complete gravel tracks that make it quite challenging.
4.) Head over to Laguna Colorada
Yeah, by now you’ll no doubt have realised how full Bolivia is with gorgeous natural sights? And guess what, the Laguna Colorada or the “Red Lake” is no different. ????
Located about 14000 feet above sea level (though, I didn’t count), the first thing you will notice about this shallow salt lake is the pretty cool and totally unique red colour which is caused by the red sediment and algae that calls Laguna Colorada home. Honestly, it’s breathtaking.
Keep your eyes peeled for the local flamingoes too. The rare puna or James’ flamingos that you see here are the cherries on the cake. Though, you’re not always guaranteed to see these.
The only downside is that there is quite a lot of litter on the sides of the roads (most likely from visitors) so if you are planning a visit, make sure to take your trash back with you.
5.) Experience the rainforest
While most think of going to the Amazon rainforest from Brazil, it is actually much cheaper and less crowded to go on an Amazonian tour from Bolivia.
The starting point is the town of Rurrenabaque and from here you can choose between two options. The pampas tours are the most budget-friendly and give you the opportunity to see the most wildlife. The only thing is that the pampas aren’t deep in the jungle and are on the edge of the Amazon basin.
The jungle on the other hand, as the name suggests is a more classic Amazon experience. You may not see as much wildlife but you do get to stay at a fun eco-lodge in the jungle and choose from many interesting activities! It really is one cool experience to have and up there with the best things to do in Bolivia.
6.) Walk across Isla del Sol
The best way to experience this island is by staying overnight, but if you’re short on time, you can do a day trip from Copacabana, too.
Usually, what happens is that your boat (or guide) will drop you off at one end of the island and pick you up right from the other end. The walk is lovely and will take you most of the day so you should be prepared for a pretty hefty day.
Obviously, pack responsibly with plenty of water and some much-needed pocket money for the restaurants towards the end. Las Velas is a favourite for sure!
7.) See the witch market, La Paz
Love it or hate it, the Witch Market, located in La Paz, is a point that’s been around for quite some time. Yes, it’s pretty macabre and you might feel uncomfortable at some of the sites like the dried lamas – it really isn’t for the squeamish so keep this in mind.
Once you’ve arrived, you’ll notice loads of strange concoctions and items like Owl feathers, dried snakes and random tonics, though lots seem to be catered to for visitors now so expect lots of souvenir spots instead.
To be honest, it’s probably wise not to buy anything you’re not too sure about (and items that support animal cruelty). I can’t say I know too much about how some of these dried animals have been sourced so I always think it’s better to not support it if you’re unsure.
This one is not for the faint of heart and a sight that can be a little tough to see due to the dried animals. Apparently, there are more ‘authentic’ spots to see things like this on the hike to El Alto – so if that’s your thing, you might wanna head there.
8.) Go to the Train Cemetery
Yes, it is as bizarre as it sounds but totally unique that you’ll either love or hate.
Found on the outskirts of Uyuni, the “Great Train Graveyard” is a site where many abandoned trains and equipment from the 1940s can be seen completely rusted by salt winds over the years.
Most of these were imported from Britain and date back to the early 20th century. Visit this spot in the early morning or evening to avoid the crowds – it gets really busy during the day itself as it’s a popular spot for visitors and photographers. If you are running short on time, this would probably be the spot I’d skip.
9.) Explore Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca is the world’s largest high altitude lake and the largest lake in South America. It is the birthplace of the Inca civilization and is surrounded by traditional villages and ancient ruins that are so amazing to explore and one of the best things to do in Bolivia.
You can take a boat to nearby villages and learn more about the history and culture of Bolivia or you could take a day trip to Isla del Sol from here.
If you’re into archaeology, you can visit the Inca ruins in Copacabana and Tiwanaku which is a massive stone ceremonial site that was built about a 1000 years back. Though, you might wanna give that a miss if you’re not into history.
10.) Go up the Mi Teleferico
Operating at 4000 metres above sea level in La Paz, this is the highest cable car system in the world! It’s a great way to avoid traffic between La Paz and El Alto and it offers a spectacular bird’s eye view of the city. It really is up there with some of the best things to do in Bolivia, that’s for sure.
Best of all, after all that slogging around and hiking, it can be a welcome relief to chill out and watch the incredible vistas all around you.
Once you’ve seen the views, make sure to see some of the other spots in La Paz, like; Jaen Street with it’s gorgeous architecture, the Presidential Palace and Tiwanaku (that’s about 30-miles from the city centre).
If you’re looking for a gorgeous hotel to stay at, take a look at the Casa Grande Suites, which are stunning!
11.) Wander around Museo del Tesoro
Literally translating to the “Treasure Museum”, this unique museum in Sucre that’s perfect if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Built in one of the oldest homes in the city, the Museo del Tesoro houses tons of metals and precious stones that can be found in Bolivia. There are special areas dedicated to different fields including mining, jewellery, architecture, and geology and you can even buy top quality jewellery here.
It’s a cool spot to visit and one of the best things to do in Bolivia if you want to find a gorgeous gift.