Bolivia is a hidden treasure. It isn’t a country setup for tourism, but those who are willing to take less travelled path, are rewarded by experience of authenticity in every single corner, it’s mountain adventure, geographical marvels, or eugenius communities.
While many people just pass through Bolivia on their journey from Peru to Chile, you should know that there is a lot to miss by doing so. Plan at least 2.5 weeks and go there before it gets touristy!
- It’s safe
- If you love mountains – it’s your place
- It’s the most ‘acclimatise’ friendly place in the world, if you want to reach a higher mountain
- Feel uniqueness of the place with no tourist crowds
- Welcoming locals
- It’s cheap
- Salar de Uyuni is spectacular
- Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve of Andean Fauna – a country highlight!
- It’s nature diverse
- It’s reach in history (Sucre, Potosi)
I’ll start with the ‘Safety first’ point, since this is the concern of many people. While planning our trip, we have been warned by my friends, other blogs, press articles etc. that we have to keep eyes open 24/7 and be extremely cautious when being there. We heard stories about Bolivian drug trafficking, La Paz pickpocketers and dodgy mountain people .
Let’s be honest, It’s all myth.
While travelling across Bolivia, we did not have ANY single situation when we thought that our safety is in danger. La Paz seemed to be safer than any European city we know. So called ‘mountain people’ were just smily curious of who we are. We had some cigarettes and coca leaves always with us just to say ‘Thank you’ when asking them for a trail. We stayed at couchsurfing in La Paz, which was one of the highlights of our trip. We hitchhiked back from Atacama to Uyuni. Obviously, you have to respect the same international safety rules: don’t go to the dark corner street in the late night, do not show off with the money and gear you carry.
If you love mountains – it’s your place
There are endless trails you can trek and peaks you can reach in Bolivian Andes. You can choose your time spent in the mountain depending on your skills and expectations, from easy 3-4 days treks (Condoriri trek) just above La Paz altitude, to more demanding 5000m mountain passes and finally to multiple days ascents of 6000m peaks (climb Illimani). Some people may argue that Peruvian Andes are more beautiful, but hey… look at our pictures from the Condoriri trek and Illimani climb, and decide yourself 🙂 Being in Peru few years back I can’t say that any of Andes range are more beautiful. They are just different.
It’s the most ‘acclimatise’ friendly place in the world, if you want to reach a higher mountain
You enter Bolivia probably through: Chilean Border (4500m above sea level) Titicaca lake (3800m above sea level) or El Alto airport in La Paz (4000m above sea level). This means that you are acclimatising already at the start, with no physical exercise required. Staying 2 nights at such altitude makes you ready to start trekking Andes and then conquering your chosen summit, all in just a matter of several days, which in contrary means weeks of ‘altitude preparations’ in Himalayas.
Feel uniqueness of the place with no tourist crowds
Bolivia is still a hidden treasure, that it’s not discovered by crowds. People come here to visit Salar de Uyuni, Dead Road… and… that’s mainly it. What it means that wherever else you go in Bolivia, this place will be all for you!
Bolivian people might appear reserved at the first sight. They won’t approach you to offer their help or services (that’s good though!), but try to make more effort and show them that you respect their culture and country, speak in Spanish. You will find they are able to walk with you in order to show you the way. They can also make you feel at home, like our Couchsurfing host.
We both come from Poland and both concluded that Bolivian prices are like Polish prices, or even cheaper. Have an adventure of your life without emptying your account.
- Fresh pressed 300ml juice 3USD/2ppl
- Full meal at the street food market in la Paz – 5USD/2ppl
- Bus Sucre – La Paz (full cama)
- Hotel in Sucre (nice one) 40 USD/night/2ppl
- Hostel in Potosi – 20 USD/night/2ppl
- Illimani ascent with a guide – 300USD/person
- Salar de Uyuni 4×4 3 days trip – 150-180USD/person
Salar de Uyuni is spectacular and easy to organize.
You can organize it literally on the morning of departure, asking few agencies in the Uyuni city for their itineraries and prices. There is no better way to see it, than wandering in a jeep through the salty flats and making some cool photos while stopping.
Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve of Andean Fauna – a country highlight!
Extend your Salar de Uyuni trip and take at least 3 days combo, to be able to visit country national park. This is a true world wonder and country highlight you won’t see anywhere else in the world. Surreal mountains, volcanos, flamingos and dessert living vikunias.
It’s nature diverse.
Bolivia is a country of significant size and located on very diverse lands, in between Amazonian jungle on the east, Andes range and a dessert on the south. It makes it easy to stay here for a month and enjoy changing landscape and activities: Jungle safari close to Rurrenabaque, Andes trekking, Coroico Jungas, Salt flats and Atacama desert
It’s reach in history (Sucre, Potosi)
If you are adventurous enough, visit Potosi silver mines. About 2 hours visit provides a grasp of how difficult conditions Bolivian miners have to experience every day. Sweating, chewing coca leaves for strength, they fight for better tomorrow for themselves and their families.
Sucre – rewarding stop on your journey, with the post-colonial feel and great food.
Giant avocados and fresh pressed juice every day!
I had to add it 🙂 It’s an important part of my diet favorites. I was thrilled.