Bolivia is a wonderful place to backpack and many people skip this land-locked country due to lack of infrastructure and less famous sites.
It also means it’s a less well worn path, and while you’ll have to use some good traveling karma, you will also have the opportunity for unique experiences.
Salt Flats of Uyuni
Yes, this is obvious so I’m putting it first. They are the largest salt flats in the world and the experience of being there is extraterrestrial.
There is nothing like it, which is the reason why it’s the most popular destination in Bolivia.
The Salt Flats get all the glory, but taking a tour through this remote part of Bolivia is outstanding all on it’s own. You’ll see flocks of flamingos, swim in natural thermal baths, and visit lakes that are the most shocking colors. There are geysers, strange rock formations and emus running at full tilt. (check the photo gallery at the end!)
I highly recommend you start this tour in Tupiza and end in Uyuni so that the salt flats are the last day, not the first. Save the grand finale for the end.
You’ll never see stars like this, or feel so small anywhere else on earth. The altitude can give you a headache, so be prepared with pain killers!
Water Park near Sucre
Sucre in Bolivia is a wonderful city and you could easily spend days there not paying attention to the time passing. If you’ve been on the road for a while, I recommend it as a great place to lay your head down and chill while planning you’re next bus trip.
There are lots of awesome things to do in and around the city if you do get motivated. I could tell you about waterfalls or restaurants, but the most fun I had was at the Parque Acuatico Villa Norita outside Sucre. There was no one there but us, so we ran around like crazed monkeys. It was incredible.
They had plenty of beer, but no food and we often had to ask them to turn the water back on so we could use the slides. Small but fun, and something off the beaten path.
Take a taxi from town with a few friends for the fastest and easiest way to get there. We hitched a ride back on a truck, which is totally normal in South America, and makes for some good stories!
Relax in Samaipata
I had a terrible throat infection while I was here, so it wasn’t ideal but it was the perfect place to recuperate.
I managed to make it to an animal refuge (Refugio Zoologico) where I made friends with a monkey.
There’s also Las Cuevas outside of town, which make for a great day trip. Sit in some cold water and admire waterfalls makes a great afternoon.
This quaint Bolivian town is less visited so there aren’t as many sleeping options or food choices.
Definitely book a room in advance and if your bus arrives in the middle of the night, be sure to let them know, as most places do not have 24 hr staff.
We ended up sleeping on the benches outside the hostel at 3am because no one was awake. Adventure!
Find Dino Footprints in Torotoro
Do not miss this. If you go one place, go here, although it’s not easy to get to. Dinosaur footprints are fossilized in the mud. Dinosaur footprints!
Besides this, there are incredible caves and good hiking to El Vergel waterfalls (seriously don’t miss these either, see my photo gallery at the end!), as long as you have the funds to pay for a driver and car all day.
I don’t recommend going here alone, as it’s really the only way to access the park. However, you’re likely to run into any other tourists in town, as it’s tiiiinnyy and you’ll stick out.
Be friendly and book a van together. I went with 2 other friends, but we met a couple in one of the three restaurants in town and asked if they wanted to join us the next day. The vans hold up to 6 people, plus driver and guide.
To get there, you need to go to Cochobamba first, and then from there take a bus to Torotoro. The ride is rough, but totally worth it. Sleeping accommodations are extremely basic and not for the faint of heart.
Lose your Mind in La Paz
Fly into the city if you can. It’s absolutely ridiculous to see how the city spills up the mountainside in ways that seem to defy gravity. We flew in by necessity as there was a strike going on, and no buses were going there. Travel stories!
The city itself has a fascinating history and there are several free walking tours that will take you to the more interesting sites like the witches market and the San Pedro prison.
The best thing to do there is hope there is a local football (soccer) game happening because that is FUN.
We got ourselves decked out in the local colors, learned a local song to harass the opponents and made friends with the rowdy section.
We even ended up on local TV because the local Bolivians got such a laugh out of 4 gringos screaming along for their local team.
Death Road to Coroico
If you like flirting with danger, definitely do the death road. I was terrified at first and by the end I was absolutely bombing down the road trying to go as fast as I could. Go with a company you trust. I had an amazing time with Barracuda biking and always felt safe.
My little motley crew decided not to get bused back to La Paz but instead rent a house in Coroico and relax for a few days. After the insanity of La Paz, it was definitely a welcome break.
We had a beautiful big house for the 4 of us, it cost almost nothing ($6US each a night), and all we did was cook, read and write. It was good for the soul. The town is tiny and cute, and there are some activities you can do in the area.
From where you end on the death road tour, take a 15 minute taxi to the town of Coroico.
Hiking Around Isla Del Sol
Hike the island; we went north to south and slept the night on the south part of the island. It’s becoming more popular so most of the dwellings have been recently built, but always ask to look first.
What made this trip different is we hiked back to Copacabana, instead of taking a bus.
We took a boat just a hop, skip and jump from the Isla to a town called Yumupata and hiked the 20 kilometers back. We had lunch on Las Islas Flotates, incredible fresh fish fried right then and there.
I recommend walking there, instead of paying a huge amount to take a tour to these floating islands, because while interesting, it’s not really worth the expensive guided trip.
Bolivia is a fascinating country with a lot of adventures just waiting for you. I really loved my two months traveling through this place. Don’t skip it, you won’t be disappointed.
Check out more of my favorite photos for more inspiration!
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