Choosing the best things to do in Bolivia is hard because there are so many awesome places to visit in Bolivia!
So I asked a bunch of travel bloggers to tell me about the most epic experiences they had in Bolivia and the results are… just… wow….
What’s in store on this list?
Well, pink river dolphins for one! Pink-freaking-dolphins!
Biking down a road called “Death Road” for another!
And JUST WAIT until you see the incredible activity we have listed as #4 …
Easily the most popular thing to do in Bolivia, the famous Uyuni salt flats draw tourists from around the world. Why are they so special?
Well, for one thing, they seem to stretch out endlessly into the horizon, creating a trippy sort of effect.
Second, if you’re lucky enough to come after some rain, the salt flats turn into the world’s largest mirror!
Third, the remote location in the Bolivian desert and the lack of light pollution makes for some excellent stargazing! It’s not uncommon to see the Milky Way at night here. Combined with the mirror effect, it can make for some incredible photos.
The most popular way to tour the Uyuni salt flats is as part of a 3 day, 2 night expedition that will also take you through geysers, mountain peaks, colored lagoons, and more. Read these 10 tips to make the most of your adventure!
And strap in for one of the best things to do in Bolivia, and the ride of a lifetime! That is, unless you’re also doing our #2 thing to do in Bolivia….
What used to be called the World’s Most Dangerous road is now a thrill-seeker’s top thing to do in Bolivia.
In the 1980s, this 64km road that connects La Paz to Coroico reported an average of 200-300 deaths per year. Drunk drivers, narrow roads, crazy hairpin turns and forces of nature were some of the reasons that resulted in the road being termed ‘Death Road’, or ‘Camino de la Muerte’.
In 2008, a new road opened that brought most vehicles over, leaving the Death Road a popular tourist attraction. The road is bumpy, scenic and almost entirely downhill. Swerve next to a cliff edge, ride under a small waterfall, and don’t forget to take a photo at the iconic fern-covered cliff.
The numerous tour agencies in La Paz offer daredevils a chance to bike down the scenic mountain road, and if you survive, you’ll even be rewarded with a survivor’s T-shirt!
-Owen from My Turn to Travel
One of the coolest places to visit in Bolivia is the part of the Amazon basin known as Selva Boliviana.
The best starting point for a visit is Rurrenabaque, a rather remote small town which can be reached by bus or by plane – though during the rainy season the road conditions make it virtually impossible to get there, and planes get regularly delayed as the runway at the airport isn’t exactly state of the art infrastructure.
Once in Rurrenabaque, travelers have the option to join one of the many guided expeditions which go all the way to the selva, where they can stay in lodges on the water and every day go out in search of the local wildlife which includes the pink river dolphins; crocodiles and caymans; anaconda snakes; leopards (though these are incredibly hard to spot) and the unmissable monkeys.
Needless to say, sunsets and sunrises are spectacular in this region of Bolivia – even more so because there’s hardly anybody around, meaning that the show can be enjoyed in complete silence!
For those who make the trip to Bolivia’s lofty Potosi, several treats are in store:
First, not only is it the highest city in Bolivia, but one of the highest cities in the world.
Second, if you have survived soroche (altitude sickness), there is another survival activity to test your stamina – a tour of the deep mines.
These mines are located on hills on the edge of Potosi, overlooking the city. It was once the silver mining capital of the world. You meet you guide, can have a (often compulsory) shot of strong Bolivian alcohol, a bumpy ride up into the mines and then in you go.
Here you will find the mines very tight, claustrophobic and dangerous and challenging as you head through the nooks and crannies to meet with one of the miners. These are hard working guys that spend most of their lives in these mines.
On the tour you can bring gifts to these strong miners, see how tough their life is, and afterwards you can light dynamite and blow it up on your own in the mountains!
This is not a trip for the faint hearted and a true travel gem for anyone who backpacks in Bolivia. You can book this tour, one of the most unique things to do in Bolivia, through many tour operators in the city.
-Johnny from Don’t Stop Living
Bolivia offers surreal vistas by the bucketful, and the southern Badlands of Tupiza are no exception. Even the name sounds desolate, conjuring images of the Wild West.
Tupiza town itself, with its frontier feel, is a popular stop-off for those heading to Argentina or the Uyuni Salt Flats, but the real draw is the surrounding landscape.
Our jeep trip saw us rumbling across parched desert. Stopping to explore on foot, we posed between towering walls of russet stone (Puerta del Diablo), scrambled across giant boulders by the hidden Canyon del Inca, and tried not to giggle at the famously phallic rock formations of the Valle de los Machos.
We ate lunch by a river, under the shade of a lone tree, wondering whether Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid had ever passed through the same beautiful spot. It was near these Badlands, legend has it, that these notorious outlaws were reputedly shot and killed.
To top it all, we drove high above the plains, to almost 4000m, to gaze open-mouthed across the striking, rocky pinnacles of the Quebrada de Palala. What a finale.
Don’t miss the geological riches of Tupiza’s Badlands, one of the most interesting things to do in Bolivia!
-Sara from Travel Continuum
You don’t have to go far to discover one of the most unique destinations in Bolivia – the Valley of the Moon.
Situated just 10km outside of La Paz, the Valley of the Moon is not actually a valley at all, but a maze of canyons and giant spires made of clay and sandstone, formed as a result of strong winds and rains. The valley is unlike anything you have ever seen before and some say that walking around the valley, feels like walking on the moon.
You don’t need a guide or an organized tour to check out the valley. Simply, show up, pay the admission fee (only a couple of dollars) and follow one of the two paths to get around the valley.
Don’t forget your camera, because the views really are out of this world!
-Oksana and Max from Drink Tea & Travel
You know what’s great about the best thing to do in La Paz?
It costs less than a dollar!
La Paz’s public transportation system includes some truly incredible cars that will zip you from the center of the city up to the nearby hillsides. The cable cars are used as public transport (it’s a lot faster than taking a bus down the valley side into the city), but the system is new, clean, and very tourist friendly.
There are several different lines you can take, each with unique views of the city and nearby mountains. On a clear day you can even see the stunning Illimani mountain hovering in the background!
The largest collection of dinosaur prints in the world can be found just outside of Sucre at Parque Cretacico. Here you can see thousands of footprints from dinosaurs that roamed the area millions of years ago.
The footprints are along a 1.2 kilometre cliff in the park. A cliff you say? How did the dinosaurs walk up a vertical cliff?
The ground has shifted due to the tectonic plates and is now a vertical cliff. The footprints were found in the 90s when they were mining the area for limestone. Once those layers were removed the dinosaur prints were discovered.
A new path was recently made in the park so that you can walk down close to the footprints. A guide takes you through the park and tells you which type of dinosaur each print is from. It costs 30 bolivian pesos to get in and well worth it!
-Nicole from Travelgal Nicole
Around 3 hours’ drive from Santa Cruz is the tiny village of Samaipata. A huge change from the busy, hectic Santa Cruz, Samaipata is a pretty little town with plenty to do nearby.
Close to the Amboro National Park, you can even hike into the cloud forest from here to see giant ferns over 4 meters high. The hike can be tough if you’re not used to the altitude in Bolivia, but the views are definitely worth the effort!
On the other side of town, there are several waterfalls to visit, and El Fuerte, a huge rock on the top of a mountain which was inhabited by several indigenous groups since 400 AD, from the Mojocoya people to the Chané, Guaraní and the Incas. Even the Spanish colonialists used the site to secure a trade route between Asunción in Paraguay & Lima in Peru. The rock is vast, and its position had religious significance for the people who lived there, who carved drawings into the rock.
-Claire from Tales of a Backpacker
One of the most incredible things to do in Bolivia is to visit Lake Titicaca. Impossibly rich shades of blue will make it pretty hard for you to take your eyes off them.
At 3812 metres above sea level, Lake Titicaca is said to be the world’s highest navigable body of water. And if that wasn’t impressive enough in itself, it also happens to be one of the largest lakes in South America. Spilling over into Peru as well, this lake is believed to be the cradle of Peru’s ancient civilizations. The Incas are the most well-known ancient civilization to have lived here, preceded by Pukara, Tiwanaku and Collas. The ancients believed that this was the birthplace of the sun.
For any visitor here, I would recommend a boat ride to Isla de Sol and the floating islands. Be warned though, boating on this lake can be a bit risky. Our boat’s engine decided to call it a day right in the middle of the lake and the locals in charge of the boat kept doing their best to bring it back to life. We all exchanged nervous-yet-trying-not-show-it glances at each other for a good 45 minutes until the engine finally roared back into life. One of those moments that remind you it’s not an adventure unless you’re miserable at some point!
-Namita of Radically Ever After
Tiwanaku (or Tiahuanaco) is the ruins of an ancient civilization, and a visit to it should be on any list of things to do in Bolivia. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a pyramid, an underground temple, the Gate of the Sun, and monoliths.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much left as it was meant to be. The Spanish, during colonization, destroyed most of it and it wasn’t until 1960’s that it finally came under Bolivian protection. It was inhabited as early as 1580 BC and it’s still an important site for the local population.
The gate of the sun, even though it’s suffered a lot and it isn’t even in its original position, is impressive and the carvings are still very detailed and intricate. The pyramid, or what’s left of it, is still amazing!
When you visit it, hire a local guide and take your time. Visit the 2 museums, they’re worth it, and maybe even stop by the ruins of Pumapunku too! And remember to take it easy because of the altitude!
-Thais from World Trip Diaries
What’s on the top of your list of things to do in Bolivia?
Let me know in the comments!
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Nate Hake has traveled to 65+ countries across six continents around the world and blogs about his travels at TravelLemming.com. He is from Denver, Colorado, recently concluded a six month stint living in Mexico, and is now currently traveling in Thailand.