Do you have an insatiable hunger for adventure, camping, and cultural exploration in gorgeous off-the-beaten-path places that aren’t run amok with tourists? If yes, then this article with the best things to do in Bolivia is your guide to undoubtedly achieving one of your favorite trips you’ve ever been on: a 2 week Bolivian trip filled with camping in Mars-like deserts, mountain biking on narrow roads with clouds and green vegetation whooshing by your face, and hiking in lush rainforests with monkeys dangling from trees and huge gum drop-like mountains looming in the distance.
Why Choose Bolivia? Is Bolivia safe?
Besides having fewer tourists than almost every country I’ve ever visited, Bolivia also has the most diverse types of landscapes out of every country I’ve ever visited. Your jaw will hang staring out at some of the stunning views Bolivia has to offer, and you will be able to enjoy the moment without 15 people with a camera shoving you to get a shot of it.
On the other hand, compared with other countries in southern America, Bolivia is relatively safe for tourists. Especially as soon as one leaves the big cities. The people of Bolivia are worldwide known for their warm hospitality so there should be no safety issues during your trip.
A 2-Week Itinerary To The Most Stunning Bolivia Attractions
And when I say stunning, I mean it.
Before getting started, check out the travel film I put together after exploring the country:
This is a rough guide and can be adjusted any way you’d like. I’ll also note that we crammed a lot into two weeks. Some activities and places should be taken out if you’d like to feel a little less rushed.
Step 1 – Arriving at La Paz
Fly into La Paz, the administrative capital of Bolivia and also the highest capital city in the world (11,975ft/3,500m above sea level). Spend one day acclimating and soaking up the culture by walking around the markets filled with vibrant-colored clothes and deceased baby llamas, used for good luck.
Also, book your ‘Death Road’ Bike Tour for the 3rd day of your trip. Next, head up the cable car called Teleférico to get a gorgeous view of the red-bricked city.
Fun fact: La Paz is often referred to as a fire-resistant city. It has no fire department because starting a fire is extremely difficult due to the elevation/small amount of oxygen.
Step 2 – Copacabana, Isla del Sol, and Lake Titicaca
Take a 4 hour-or-so bus ride to Copacabana that evening. Spend the night there and wake up early to see the sunrise over the small lake town and then take the morning ferry over to Isla del Sol, a beautiful rocky little island in Lake Titicaca with a ton of ruins on it.
After spending the morning and some of the afternoon there, return on the ferry to Copacabana and hop on an evening bus back to La Paz. Get a good night’s sleep in La Paz and get ready for the Yungas Road “Death Road” bike tour the next morning.
Step 3 – Yungas Road bike tour
The Yungas Road, also known as the Death Road, which connects the city of La Paz with the Yungas region in Bolivia, was built in the 1930s and gets its name due to the number of fatalities caused because of its narrowness, surrounding weather, and lack of guard rails. The deaths mainly occurred with automobiles veering off the edges in the past, but now the road has been appropriated into a popular cyclist trail.
There are a few Death Road Bike Tour companies you can go with. My friends and I went with Gravity Bolivia and they were responsible, knowledgeable, fun, and their equipment was well-kept. For myself and three friends, it came out to $375 total. This includes meals, snacks, and transportation.
You’ll start early in the morning, around 6 am, and get back to La Paz in the evening. A good portion of the day is spent driving in a van to and from the start and end of the North Yungas Road, but it’s well worth it. You’ll have a blast riding down the gravel roads with lush landscapes off in the distance and waterfalls dropping off near you.
Step 4 – From La Paz to Potosi and Uyuni
After waking up the next day in La Paz, you’ll take a flight to the city of Potosi – sometimes it is possible to score great last-minute flight deals for this journey. This is where your camping adventure will begin. Before the trip, you should have been in contact with a rental car company for this leg of the trip. We went with Biz Rent A Car. They’re located in Sucre, so it cost $135 extra for the company to drop the car off at the small airport in Potosi.
We did this because it gave us closer access for driving to the salt flats in Uyuni and other sights in the Atacama Region and also because there are no car rental companies that we found in Potosi. We made plans to rent the car for 4 days, coming out to a total of $700 with a baseline distance of 600km. After the 600km, it’s 65 cents per kilometer. We ended up going way over the baseline mileage, with the rental cost of the car coming out to $1500.
It’s a lot, yes, but having the car cancels out any need for you to purchase multiple tours to drive around to see the sights, as well as purchase places to stay since you’ll find spots to camp, and it’ll give you the freedom to go where you want when you want. It was the highlight of our trip and it’ll be the highlight of yours!
After you take care of the rental paperwork at the airport, drive to the center of Potosi and grab some camping essentials. There’s really not too much to see in Potosi in my opinion, so we just made this a quick stop to get some water, firewood, lighter fluid, food, and alcohol. Once you have everything packed up in your camp-mobile, head off to Uyuni to see ‘Salar de Uyuni’, the famous Uyuni Salt Flats. The drive should take around 3 hours.
Traveler Tip: When you see wild Vincuña along the way, don’t feel like you need to go out of your way to take some pics. You’ll see more. A lot more.
Related read: Epic Adventures To Take In Your 20s, 30s, 40s And Beyond
Step 5 – Exploring Uyuni Salt Flats
Most likely you’ll arrive in Uyuni in the late afternoon or evening if following this guide to the tee. It’s important to note that if you happen to be visiting the salt flats when there’s water on the flats, the rental company will NOT allow you to drive on the flats. The salt will destroy the car and you’ll be left with a huge bill at the end of your trip.
So if you do visit when there is water on the flats, book a half-day tour with one of the many Salar de Uyuni tour companies in town (you can do it when you arrive).
We chose to set up camp a little outside the city in a random location in the desert. That night was our first night experiencing one of our favorite things about Bolivia, the lack of light pollution, which brought out the most amazing display of stars I have ever seen.
Step 6 – From Uyuni to Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve
The next day, enjoy your time on the world’s largest salt flats! Salar de Uyuni is also home to the world’s largest lithium reserve located underneath the flats. It houses around 60% of the world’s reserves!
Even if you don’t visit when water is present on the flats, giving it its famous mirror-like reflection, it’s uniquely beautiful to look out in the distance and see nothing but white. Most tour agencies do know spots on the flats that have a little bit of water on them, so don’t fret too much about the lack of water.
After your day on the flats, fill up the gas in your car and head south, to Eduardo Avaroa National Park, to see geysers and beautifully colored lakes filled with bright pink flamingos and roaming wild llamas.
Related read: These Are The Most Stunning Landscapes In Bolivia
Step 7 – Exploring Eduardo Avaroa geysers and lakes
Make sure to download the offline Google Maps for the area because service is next to none out there. Once you leave Uyuni, you will rarely see signs of life other than at the tourist stops like Laguna Verde, Laguna Colorada, and the Sol de Mañana geysers. We chose to set up camp in a few random locations we spotted next to mountains and one amazing spot by a small isolated lake we pointed out on Google Maps.
Make sure to bring lots of warm clothing (the elevation of the area ranges anywhere from 14,000 feet to 17,000 feet. In saying that, prepare for a headache the next day if you do decide to drink at your campsites. Elevation and alcohol is a recipe for some next-day discomfort.
Also, don’t forget to clean up after you camp!
I think it’s important to note that we barely made it from Uyuni to Laguna Verde and back on one tank of gas (although we had two 5-gallon spare tanks in the car. Enjoy your time camping and exploring this surreal Mars-like terrain and visiting the beautiful lakes that Eduardo Avaroa National Park has to offer!
Traveler Tip: Laguna Verde only looks really green when exposed to wind. Be patient.
Step 8 – From Eduardo Avaroa to Sucre and Santa Cruz
Get ready for a long road trip to Sucre. The drive should take the majority of the day and most likely you’ll arrive at Sucre in the evening. Find a spot to camp a little outside of the city and wake up the next day to return the rental car.
I would recommend adding another day to your trip to tour Sucre, which is the country’s constitutional capital and filled with charming white and red-bricked buildings. We weren’t able to fit that on our trip, but it’s something we wished we had.
After dropping off the car and/or touring Sucre, take a taxi to the Sucre Alcantarí International Airport and hop on a flight to the city of Santa Cruz. On arrival, spend the night walking around the beautiful Spanish cosmopolitan city or just kick back and relax at your hotel after a couple of days of roughing it.
Related read: 7 Cities You Must Visit In Bolivia
Step 9 – Exploring Amboro National Park
The next morning you’ll set off on your day or two stay at Refugio Los Volcanes. Refugio Los Volcanes is a gorgeous eco-lodge snuggled up in the mountains of Amboro National Park, a park filled with vibrant green vegetation, low flying fluffy white clouds, and tranquil sounds of the nearby rivers and surrounding animals.
Having a couple of days here to unwind, smell the fresh air, hike the amazing trails up the massive mountains around the property, and eat fresh home-cooked food was a perfect end to the trip. In retrospect, we wish we would’ve spent a few more days here, but fitting everything in a two-week schedule didn’t give us all that much leeway.
Step 10 – From Amboro National Park to Santa Cruz
The eco-lodge will bring you back to Santa Cruz where you can return home via the Santa Cruz Viru Viru International Airport.
Bolivia is not very high on most travelers’ radar, but it should be. It’s raw and untouched beauty, unique culture, and diverse landscapes will make you long to return after your trip has ended. I know it has for me.
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