Bolivia is home to thousands of species of birds, animals, fish, reptiles and amphibians, many of which are disappearing at alarming rates. Bolivia is also home to the salar de uyuni, death road, lake titicaca and the atacama desert. One-third of bolivia is made up of the andes mountain range, while the eastern lowlands reach into the amazon basin. Bolivia is still one of the more wild places we explore filled with a unique culture and history all it’s own. More...

Overview (Why?)

Bolivia guide: Bolivia is home to thousands of species of birds, animals, fish, reptiles and amphibians, many of which are disappearing at alarming rates. Bolivia is also home to the salar de uyuni, death road, lake titicaca and the atacama desert. One-third of bolivia is made up of the andes mountain range, while the eastern lowlands reach into the amazon basin. Bolivia is still one of the more wild places we explore filled with a unique culture and history all it’s own.

Budget for bolivia Food, transport (unless you are taking flights) and accommodation are inexpensive and very budget friendly. A backpacker could easily survive on b$200 (€25 / $30) per day.

Moving around!!

Getting in and out of bolivia overland Easiest way is take bus from Puno, Peru. This bus stops at copacabana before heading on to la paz. There’s nothing really to do in these border towns and there didn’t seem to be much accommodation either, so it’s best to head onwards straight away.

Peru / bolivia immigration Will and connor (owners of the hop) will sort you out with a white sheet from border control before you get on the bus in cusco. If like me, you lose it, your guide can hook you up with another. At the border you get off one bus; have the opportunity to change currency (we changed 40 soles for 80 bs, ripped off by 5 soles) then toddle up to the first immigration office where peru officials remove your white immigration sheet which you received when you entered peru from you passport (if you have lost this, you must pay a fine at the border).

Bolivia by flight Try to find a cheap flight from where you live to La paz. Flights within bolivia are short and inexpensive, but more costly than taking the bus. We only took one bus, an overnight one to uyuni.

Taking trufis and taxis in bolivia Known as trufis, these little minibuses throng the city’s streets and feature ticket sellers leaning out of the open doors shouting their destinations – information supported by a placard propped up in the windscreen. For a tourist, this is something of a difficulty when they barely know the name of the street their hostel is on.

Getting around in cities like La paz La paz is being plagued by a crazy traffic jam, the taxi is the easiest and most comfortable way to move around.

Crossing borders: argentina to bolivia Cross the argentina - bolivia border at la quiaca - villazon.

Hitchhiking in bolivia If you’re on the side of the road looking for a ride, most people will probably just point you in the direction of the bus station. Some travellers have had success hitchhiking in bolivia, though.

What to see?

La paz / El Alto - home base for traveling bolivia At just over 12,000 feet (3,660 meters), La paz is known as the highest capital city in the world. My mind was darting everywhere as were my eyes, from the colours and busy streets through to the smell of gas and dusty air. La paz has framed crazy cityscape that tumbles into a valley of skyscrapers, Surreal, intimidating, and slightly nauseating (thanks to the altitude sickness). Just walking uphill in La paz is enough to make even the fittest athlete breath heavily. Cable cars carry passengers between the cities of El alto and La paz, bolivia. In La Paz, we visited the murillo plaza, presidential palace, church of san francisco, and the main streets borne and visited by the city. We continue visiting moon valley, and we will experience the cable car ride.

Death road near La paz, bolivia Most travellers visit this south american city to pedal the 69 kilometres / 43 miles death road, bolivia because it was, until very recently, named the most dangerous road in the world. The name originated from the number of deaths the road caused during the construction of it and it was not bolivians that built it.

Tiwanaku, UNESCO heritage site in bolivia Visit the impressive ruins of the powerful tiwanaku culture. Not only does it date from one of the most important early cultures in this area, it is believed to have been an important precursor to the inca civilization, as well. At least the incas claimed this when they began to take over this area, years after the site had been abandoned. However, few people know that the andean railway company (fca) offers a tourist trip by train to the towns of tiwanaku and guaqui on the second sunday of each month.

Lake Titicaca, Bolivian side Lake Titicaca is the world's highest navigable lake and the birthplace of inca empire. Enjoy views of the lake and of the snow-capped andes, as well as a visit to puma rock – the birthplace of manco capac, founder of the incas. Located off the other side of lake titicaca, the opposite to puno, peru, copacabana give you access to hiking trails that you dont get from the peruvian side. Isla del sol and the isla de la luna are a must-do when you are here as you will be able to enjoy the white beach, the fresh air of the lake, and experiencing the authentic lives of people around the lake. You can either stay on the sjun island overnight or do a one day tour from copacabana via tour agency.

Hiking isla del sol, bolivia: ruins, beaches and mountains There are white sand beaches, ancient ruins and contrasting shades of blue water – things you don’t necessarily expect from an island in a high altitude lake in bolivia. We spent a couple of days exploring isla del sol, including an incredibly scenic walk from the northern tip to yumani, the main port and town in the south of the island. Isla del solisla del sol has no motor vehicles or paved roads and it is home to only about 800 families. At night and in the morning, it can get very cold. Although the island slopes significantly in places, lots of the trails are relatively flat.

Sucre, Bolivia Founded by the spanish in the 16th century, sucre has a peaceful, european feel. The city has been designated as a UNESCI world heritage site to protect its many pristine and historically significant buildings. Largely untouched by tourism, the youthful city is a goldmine of unexplored treasures and cultural activity. This city, full of beautiful churches and grand buildings should offer countless opportunities for lists of must-dos, cannot misses and bucket list items. This beautiful and relaxed city is also brimming with adventure possibilities, ranging from trips to barely-visited rural villages, to trekking through ancient, otherworldly landscapes. Here, you’ll find treks through a surreal selection of ancient landmarks, hidden accommodation set in remote places and tiny villages of dusty streets – all coupled with the feeling that you’ve somehow stepped back in time. It has a hot and dry weather in summer and cold nights in winter even though the days are generally pretty warm.

#1 best trekking around Sucre, Bolivia There are several trekking paths around this bolivia’s capital city. You can set your foot on the road to las siete cascadas (the seven waterfalls) or head to the two to three days trek to maragua crater. Both treks are well marked on maps. I’d heard mixed reviews; the rubbish that i’d been told now coated the path leading up to the falls and had even dirtied the water there had left me less than inclined to bother.

Tarabuco weaving techniques in Sucre, Bolivia This ethnic group lives southeast of sucre, in central bolivia, and represents one of the country’s prominent traditional cultures. Throughout the centuries tarabuquenos have woven their own clothes using distinct weaving patterns.

Sucre, bolivia and Dia de los muertes Do visit sucre’s general cemetery which is more like park. Being here for dia de los muertes meant seeing how bolivians celebrate the memory of their loved ones each year by decorating the graves and spending all day there.

Sucre to Cordillera de los frailes: From sucre we explored the nearby cordillera de los frailes with its pre-columbian cave paintings and dinosaur footprints. We finally arrived at the pleasant town of samaipata where we hiked to the nido del condor (condor’s nest) to watch at least a dozen condors glide in the strong winds they love.

One-day Bolivia salt flats (Salar De Uyuni) tours Bolivia has the largest salt flats in the world. Over 4000 square miles in size it’s an unbelievable sight. Miles and miles of brilliant white salt stretching as far as the eye can see. When you look up close the ground is made up of hundreds of small hexagons, a salt crust that covers a pool of brine. For many visitors to bolivia, the salar is the countrys sole draw. The buses from the de facto capital of La paz to Uyuni are increasingly geared to tourist comfort, as the salar becomes a more and more ubiquitous stop among backpackers in south america. As such, uyuni is the only place possible to embark on a one-day tour of the actual Salar De Uyuni. Although it is possible to tour the salt flats from Uyuni in a single day, we instead recommend the 3-day Bolivia salt flats tour. The salar de uyuni is a about square miles of land covered in a salt crust.

What to do in Potosi, bolivia Potosi has an elevation of over 4,000 metres and is one of the highest cities in the world. It’s also built on a steep hill, so you might find yourself getting breathless if you walked too quickly. Local indigenous people from bolivia and peru, as well as african slaves, were brought to potosi to mine cerro rico for silver. The mines produced so much silver for the spanish that the term “worth a potosi” was used to describe something of high value and potosi was considered the richest city in the world at the time. In the 16th century, potosi was regarded as the world’s largest industrial complex in which the extraction of silver relied on a series of innovative hydraulic mills. Now things are a little less grand, but the town – a unesco world heritage site – still boasts the spoils of its amazing past and here you’ll find beautiful buildings, pretty churches and ornate colonial mansions.

Huayna Potosi Climbing From La Paz, a minibus takes you for an hour-long ride to La cumbre (Death Road) featured in many outlets. In la cumbre, on a plain in the andes at 15,400 feet (4,700 meters) above sea level, note the low clouds and admire the snowcapped mountains, including huayna potosi, the highest peak near la paz. If you’re considering tackling huayna potosi (6,088m), spend a few days acclimatising to the altitude in la paz beforehand, and get your eye in by climbing chacaltaya. Then, the tours move to pleasing shaped Pequeno Alpamayo (5370m) provides a techincally interesting snow climb via its long west-south-west ridge. Then, transferring to the basecamp for huayna potosi (6094m), we make a 2-day ascent of this popular mountain before returning to la paz for a welcome days rest, before setting out to tackle the crowning glory of bolivian climbing, illimani.

Chile to Bolivia and tours of Lagunas near potosi Laguna colorada, laguna blanca, laguna verde – to name a few, all living up to their names each with wildly different elements such as colour schemes and fauna. ---Laguna Verde - a green-ish lake, appropriately named “laguna verde” or “green lagoon". Arsenic and other minerals give the lake its green appearance, which changes colors based upon winds and sediment levels. ---Laguna Blanca - This lake is white in color. ---Laguna Colorada - The lake contains borax islands, whose white color contrasts with the reddish color of its waters, which is caused by red sediments and pigmentation of some algae.

Nevado illimani, 6438m, Cordillera real, Bolivia Its the second highest mountain of bolivia. I have to say that much more beautiful than the highest one - sajama. Sleeping in both the base and the high camp with the snowcapped mountains around is an incredible experience.

Backpacking the cordillera real, bolivia It is a volcano with a huge crater on the top covered by snow. And passes at over 16,000 ft, tropical glaciers, snaking milky rivers, llamas, and locals, this trail is a dream for the seasoned mountain hiker and international traveler. There are multiple options for hiking the cordillera real which range from three to 14 days. During the hike, you will pass through 6 different passes at around16000 ft.

Where to stay?

Bolivia travel budget The cost of your trip to bolivia really depends on the level of comfort you will want while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between $35 to $50 a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $50 to $100 per day.

Backpacker accommodation in bolivia Overall, it’s one of the cheapest countries in latin america to travel in. In the popular tourist areas, you can easily find excellent backpacker hostels or budget hotel rooms. So long as you’re mindful of your surroundings, taking good care of your valuables, and avoiding sketchy situations, you’ll be just fine. Most hostels will have free wifi, although it can be slow outside of common areas.

Where to stay in bolivia La paz - 3600 hostel - 15 usd/night - a bit expensive but it is quiet and equipped with clean facilities, comfortable beds and curtains for privacy Potosi - hostal eucalyptus - 22-27 usd/night (single room) Uyuni town - hostal oro blanco - 80 usd/night - not the best but good enough for one night. There was electricity at the hostels we stayed in but it was on for only limited hours and all the outlets became full with everybody wanting to charge their devices at the same time. To be able to capture the awesome scenery during the tour, be sure to have a full charge and a bring a portable charger to keep your battery life at 100%.

What to eat?

One for the foodies: an insight into food in bolivia What’s available is quite broad, and like pretty much any place in the world there are some western influences creeping in, especially when you get into the bigger cities. For the most part, however, things have been the same way for a long time. The main staples of the bolivian diet are corn, potatoes and meat, and they have hundreds of variations on just these items.

Restaurants in la paz, bolivia We were told to not hold out much hope of tasty food in la paz. ‘enjoy the bread and potatoes was pretty much the theme from travelling friends who we met at the border between peru and bolivia.

Food in bolivia Eating out in bolivia is also a great bargain, as you can usually get a set meal for as little as $2-3. They’re bolivia’s answer to empanadas (try saltenas), and they’re cheap, tasty, and very messy.

Top steak restaurants in tarija, bolivia Even if you travel on a budget you shouldn’t miss the visit to the top restaurant in tarija - el fogon del gringo.

General advice for backpacking in bolivia
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