Top 5 things to do in Bolivia

Craig Martin February 14, 2013 3

Bolivia is an amazing country that’s somewhat overshadowed by her more-famous neighbours Chile and Argentina, but it has at least as many awesome things to do as these giants (plus, it’s all a lot cheaper!).

Visit the Uyuni salt flats

Salt flats of Uyuni

Salt flats of Uyuni, photo by Craig M.

No matter what else you do during your stay in Bolivia, don’t miss the Uyuni salt flats—many travellers rate this attraction as one of the best in all of South America, myself included. Jeep tours leave every morning from the town of Uyuni, and you can choose a circular route which takes you back to your starting point three or five days later, or pick a tour that terminates across the border in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

During your trip, you’ll see amazing rock formations, wild flamingoes, cacti-covered islands and (of course) endless stretches of flat white salt plains. They’re perfect for taking those perspective pictures where you look like you’re standing on someone’s hand.

Walk across the Isla del Sol

On the boat to Isla del Sol

On the boat to Isla del Sol, photo by Craig M.

One of Lake Titicaca’s biggest islands, the Isla del Sol really warrants an overnight stay, but if you don’t have time, you can do a day trip from Copacabana. The boat will drop you at one end of the island and pick you up from the other. It’s a lovely walk that will take you most of the day, although you should have time to stop at one of the bars towards the end of the route for a drink. Make sure you’re at the jetty on time, though, as the boat won’t wait for stragglers.

Discover La Paz

Valley of the Moon, just outside La Paz

Valley of the Moon, just outside La Paz, photo by Craig M.

La Paz, the high-altitude capital of Bolivia, has a lot going on. There’s the witches’ market, where you can buy all sorts of products like medicinal plants, amulets or dried llama fetuses. There’s another large street market on the weekends, where you can buy everything you could possibly imagine—we have an extremely dodgy-looking power adapter that we bought during our first visit over two years ago. It’s still working, though!

On the outskirts of town, you’ll find the Valley of the Moon, which is worth a visit for its strange rock formations. A great travelling game is to try and puzzle out why each of the formations earned its name. Across the road, you’ll find a well-priced zoo, good if you have time to kill, and the barbecue restaurants nearby are a great place for lunch.

Eat and drink

Market in La Paz

Markets in La Paz are a great place to find local favourites, photo by Craig M.

Speaking of lunch, Bolivia is full of interesting food and drink. Especially drink. Bolivia’s wine industry is growing, so visit Tarija and hop on a wine tour to get your fix. If you’re more interested in beer, you’re in luck too; there are a lot of local breweries based in Bolivia. Oddly, they are difficult to find in the pubs, but if you can create your own tasting by heading to a supermarket. In terms of food, street food is king, especially in La Paz. Yum.

Ride the road of death

Death Road, Bolivia

Death Road, Bolivia, photo by Greg S.

No list of things to do in Bolivia would be complete without a mention of North Yungas Road, the ‘Road of Death.’ I must admit that I haven’t ridden it myself—I’m too scared! The 61km-long road starts high in the Altiplano near La Paz and descends into the Amazon rainforest below, dropping more than 3000m along its length.

If you do decide to cycle this route, make sure to get a very good quality bike and don’t attempt it in adverse weather conditions.

3 Comments »

  1. Tiny Girl With Big Bag February 15, 2013 at 11:17 am - Reply

    I agree with Uyuni and the Isla del Sol, they are a must, however I would rather do Potosi and the silver mines, and Tiwanaku, and I would not do the Death Road, its fame is bigger than what it actually gives.. Nice pictures, thanks for sharing :)

  2. Jacob Marlfoyle September 13, 2013 at 3:50 am - Reply

    You’re traveling through one of my favorite regions of the world. Great post. I am ready to go back.

  3. Brigid December 12, 2013 at 11:54 am - Reply

    Bolivia is such a wonderful country to visit, and it sure doesn’t hurt that it’s so ridiculously cheap! I loved visiting Copacabana and La Paz, so much culture and many festivities! Looking forward to heading to the Salt Flats some time next year.

    I’m living in Sucre now, and would highly recommend a visit if your traveling to Bolivia. It’s so pretty with it’s all white buildings…I don’t think I want to leave!

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