Backpacking Bolivia

Do you want to get to know the fascination of true, traditional South America? Then we have a clear recommendation for you: Backpacking in Bolivia! The country has so much to offer, and the cultural and historical richness is particularly convincing. Experience your personal South American adventure.



Have fun exploring our ideal backpacking route for Bolivia.


Important Basics

Official language

Spanish, Quecha, Aimara, Guaraní

Basic Vocabulary
EnglishSpanish/strong>
HelloHola
Goodbyechau
Thank youGracias
Yes
NoNo
Capital city

Sucre

Best time to travel

Mai bis May to October

Currency

Boliviano

Telephone area code

+591

Fun facts
  • The largest salt flat in the world is in Bolivia: The Salar de Uyuni.
  • In Bolivia, there is the Laguna Colorada, which has a strong red colour – together with the flamingos there it makes a wonderful sight.

Cities

Sao Paulo

The first stop on your trip is São Paulo. Having a stopover in the Brazilian metropolis might be cheaper than a direct flight to Bolivia.

As the largest Brazilian city, it offers numerous must-see attractions. Take a stroll through the colourful street markets, as well as the green Ibirapuera Park with its great skyline view. Afterwards, dive into the city's vibrant nightlife.

Praça da Sé square and the 92-metre tall Catedral da Sé, the fourth-largest neo-Gothic cathedral in the world, are also worth seeing. Our insider tip is the Altino Arantes Building.

The 161-metre-high office building in São Paulo’s centre offers a magnificent panoramic view of the city from its viewing platform.

Staying overnight in a four-bed dorm in the centre costs €13 per night.

Santa Cruz

Take a flight for about €125 to Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

The city is located between the humid Amazon rainforest and the dry(er) Río de la Plata basin. With over 1.6 million inhabitants, it is Bolivia’s largest city and economic centre.

With a beautiful tropical garden in the centre, as well as numerous museums, markets, churches and basilicas, this colourful metropolis has a lively and cheerful atmosphere. Those who have enough time can visit El Arenal Park, amusement parks, or the zoological garden.

Santa Cruz’s inviting surroundings are perfect for many excursions. Check out Lomas de Arena’s white sand dunes on the city’s southern outskirts or enjoy a nature walk along Río Piraí’s riverbank in the western part of the city.

Not far from the many restaurants, bars and nightclubs of Santa Cruz you will find hostels where you can sleep in a 4-bed dorm for 10 euros per night.

Sucre

Your trip continues in Sucre. Flights to Bolivia’s capital are available from Santa Cruz for as little as €60.

The colonial buildings in Sucre date back to the 18th century and are deemed the best-preserved buildings in the country. Because of its lily-white facades, Sucre is also called White City and its picturesque old town, built in a traditional architectural style, is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn about the city’s exciting history in the House of Liberty Museum (Casa de la Libertad).

The climate in the highlands around Sucre is ideal for growing cocoa; these beans are dried, roasted or processed into delicious specialities after harvesting. Enjoy Bolivian chocolate with its unique flavour in the form of a praline, drink or mousse and buy it as a delicious souvenir for your loved ones. The area is also ideal to explore on a motorbike.

In Sucre, you can stay at a hostel for €10 in a four-bed dorm.

Potosi

For only €3, take the bus from Sucre to Potosi – one of the world’s highest cities.

Built in the Spanish colonial style, the city offers not only a beautiful historic centre, but also, above all, some great sights in its mountainous surroundings. Potosi is located at the foot of Cerro Rico and was once one of the largest silver mining areas in the world. Today, the old mines are the city’s most famous site.

Potosi is also the only place in the world where you can buy dynamite as a tourist.

In the city centre, you have the option of staying in a hostel, which costs only 8 euros per night. For this you get a bed in a 4-bed dorm.

Uyuni

A bus will take you to Uyuni for €8.

This southwestern Bolivian city is the gateway to one of the country’s most famous sights. Not far from the Chilean border is the Salar de Uyuni, which is the world’s largest salt flat and is even visible from space – a must-see on every South America trip.

With our tour below, you will spend four days in this surreal landscape and dive into a completely different world. Salar de Uyuni’s salt flat extends over 10,000 square kilometres. During the rainy season, it turns into the world’s largest salt lake, which resembles a gigantic mirror in which the snow-covered mountains and blue sky are beautifully reflected.

Cruise with a Jeep over Altiplano’s deserted plateaus past active volcanoes to shimmering, fairy-tale lagoons. Also watch the flamingos in Laguna Blanca’s turquoise waters, learn about salt mining and visit the cactus-lined Isla Incahuasi.

Including pick-up and drop-off in Uyuni, transport, a guide, accommodation, and full board, you can book this adventurous 4-day tour for only 145 euros.

La Paz

By bus you travel on to La Paz for about 20 euros.

Bolivia's largest city is located in a semi-crater at an altitude of over 3200 metres. With its beautiful old town, La Paz has a lot to offer for those interested in culture. Stroll through the colourful streets, past old churches, traditional squares and through green gardens.

La Paz is also home to the world's largest coca museum and the so-called witches' market, where bizarre stalls sell talismans, healing potions and mystical tinctures. To the south of the city lies the 'Valle de la Luna', with strange rock formations and mounds reminiscent of a surreal lunar landscape.

A must-do for adrenaline junkies is a mountain bike tour on Death Road. On the included day tour, you will first be taken by minibus to the mountain town of La Cumbre at 4700 metres above sea level. Then, the breathtaking descent by bike on the most dangerous road in the world, the Camino de la Muerte, begins.

Through fog and rain, you ride on the narrow road past small villages, steep cliffs, snow-capped peaks and waterfalls of the Amazon jungle. You can recover from the nerve-racking drive at La Senda Verde Ecotourism Resort with a hot shower, relax by the pool and recharge your batteries with a delicious lunch. Around the resort you can also observe exotic animals such as monkeys or parrots before returning to La Paz.

This unique experience costs only 108 euros, including transport, guide, bike use and equipment. For 9 euros per night, you can stay in a hostel here. For this, you get a bed in an 8-bed dorm.

Copacabana

From La Paz, continue on by bus to Copacabana for approximately €5.

The small city is located at a height of more than 3,800 metres near Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake. With an area of 8,400 square kilometres, it is bigger than 100 football fields.

The small, quiet town with colourful houses, a charming harbour and small sandy beaches is the perfect starting point for boat tours on the lake. Popular stops are Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) and Isla de la Luna (Island of the Moon).

The best view of the almost endless lake is from the viewpoint at Calvary Hill (Cerro Calvario), which is only a short hike away from Copacabana harbour. Experience the ancient ruins and traditional villages around the lake drenched in golden light during sunset.

The Inca ruins around Copacabana are also worth exploring, allowing you to vividly experience Bolivia’s exciting culture and history.

A hostel in Copacabana costs €10 per night for a bed in a four-bed dorm.

La Paz

Take the bus from Copacabana to the airport in La Paz for €5.

From there, take the plane back to São Paulo. The flight back to your trip’s starting point costs about €250.

After an unforgettable time in South America, fly back home.


Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo

The first stop on your trip is São Paulo. Having a stopover in the Brazilian metropolis might be cheaper than a direct flight to Bolivia.

As the largest Brazilian city, it offers numerous must-see attractions. Take a stroll through the colourful street markets, as well as the green Ibirapuera Park with its great skyline view. Afterwards, dive into the city's vibrant nightlife.

Praça da Sé square and the 92-metre tall Catedral da Sé, the fourth-largest neo-Gothic cathedral in the world, are also worth seeing. Our insider tip is the Altino Arantes Building.

The 161-metre-high office building in São Paulo’s centre offers a magnificent panoramic view of the city from its viewing platform.

Staying overnight in a four-bed dorm in the centre costs €13 per night.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz

Take a flight for about €125 to Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

The city is located between the humid Amazon rainforest and the dry(er) Río de la Plata basin. With over 1.6 million inhabitants, it is Bolivia’s largest city and economic centre.

With a beautiful tropical garden in the centre, as well as numerous museums, markets, churches and basilicas, this colourful metropolis has a lively and cheerful atmosphere. Those who have enough time can visit El Arenal Park, amusement parks, or the zoological garden.

Santa Cruz’s inviting surroundings are perfect for many excursions. Check out Lomas de Arena’s white sand dunes on the city’s southern outskirts or enjoy a nature walk along Río Piraí’s riverbank in the western part of the city.

Not far from the many restaurants, bars and nightclubs of Santa Cruz you will find hostels where you can sleep in a 4-bed dorm for 10 euros per night.

Sucre

Sucre

Your trip continues in Sucre. Flights to Bolivia’s capital are available from Santa Cruz for as little as €60.

The colonial buildings in Sucre date back to the 18th century and are deemed the best-preserved buildings in the country. Because of its lily-white facades, Sucre is also called White City and its picturesque old town, built in a traditional architectural style, is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn about the city’s exciting history in the House of Liberty Museum (Casa de la Libertad).

The climate in the highlands around Sucre is ideal for growing cocoa; these beans are dried, roasted or processed into delicious specialities after harvesting. Enjoy Bolivian chocolate with its unique flavour in the form of a praline, drink or mousse and buy it as a delicious souvenir for your loved ones. The area is also ideal to explore on a motorbike.

In Sucre, you can stay at a hostel for €10 in a four-bed dorm.

Potosi

Potosi

For only €3, take the bus from Sucre to Potosi – one of the world’s highest cities.

Built in the Spanish colonial style, the city offers not only a beautiful historic centre, but also, above all, some great sights in its mountainous surroundings. Potosi is located at the foot of Cerro Rico and was once one of the largest silver mining areas in the world. Today, the old mines are the city’s most famous site.

Potosi is also the only place in the world where you can buy dynamite as a tourist.

In the city centre, you have the option of staying in a hostel, which costs only 8 euros per night. For this you get a bed in a 4-bed dorm.

Uyuni

Uyuni

A bus will take you to Uyuni for €8.

This southwestern Bolivian city is the gateway to one of the country’s most famous sights. Not far from the Chilean border is the Salar de Uyuni, which is the world’s largest salt flat and is even visible from space – a must-see on every South America trip.

With our tour below, you will spend four days in this surreal landscape and dive into a completely different world. Salar de Uyuni’s salt flat extends over 10,000 square kilometres. During the rainy season, it turns into the world’s largest salt lake, which resembles a gigantic mirror in which the snow-covered mountains and blue sky are beautifully reflected.

Cruise with a Jeep over Altiplano’s deserted plateaus past active volcanoes to shimmering, fairy-tale lagoons. Also watch the flamingos in Laguna Blanca’s turquoise waters, learn about salt mining and visit the cactus-lined Isla Incahuasi.

Including pick-up and drop-off in Uyuni, transport, a guide, accommodation, and full board, you can book this adventurous 4-day tour for only 145 euros.

La Paz

La Paz

By bus you travel on to La Paz for about 20 euros.

Bolivia's largest city is located in a semi-crater at an altitude of over 3200 metres. With its beautiful old town, La Paz has a lot to offer for those interested in culture. Stroll through the colourful streets, past old churches, traditional squares and through green gardens.

La Paz is also home to the world's largest coca museum and the so-called witches' market, where bizarre stalls sell talismans, healing potions and mystical tinctures. To the south of the city lies the 'Valle de la Luna', with strange rock formations and mounds reminiscent of a surreal lunar landscape.

A must-do for adrenaline junkies is a mountain bike tour on Death Road. On the included day tour, you will first be taken by minibus to the mountain town of La Cumbre at 4700 metres above sea level. Then, the breathtaking descent by bike on the most dangerous road in the world, the Camino de la Muerte, begins.

Through fog and rain, you ride on the narrow road past small villages, steep cliffs, snow-capped peaks and waterfalls of the Amazon jungle. You can recover from the nerve-racking drive at La Senda Verde Ecotourism Resort with a hot shower, relax by the pool and recharge your batteries with a delicious lunch. Around the resort you can also observe exotic animals such as monkeys or parrots before returning to La Paz.

This unique experience costs only 108 euros, including transport, guide, bike use and equipment. For 9 euros per night, you can stay in a hostel here. For this, you get a bed in an 8-bed dorm.

Copacabana

Copacabana

From La Paz, continue on by bus to Copacabana for approximately €5.

The small city is located at a height of more than 3,800 metres near Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake. With an area of 8,400 square kilometres, it is bigger than 100 football fields.

The small, quiet town with colourful houses, a charming harbour and small sandy beaches is the perfect starting point for boat tours on the lake. Popular stops are Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) and Isla de la Luna (Island of the Moon).

The best view of the almost endless lake is from the viewpoint at Calvary Hill (Cerro Calvario), which is only a short hike away from Copacabana harbour. Experience the ancient ruins and traditional villages around the lake drenched in golden light during sunset.

The Inca ruins around Copacabana are also worth exploring, allowing you to vividly experience Bolivia’s exciting culture and history.

A hostel in Copacabana costs €10 per night for a bed in a four-bed dorm.

La Paz

La Paz

Take the bus from Copacabana to the airport in La Paz for €5.

From there, take the plane back to São Paulo. The flight back to your trip’s starting point costs about €250.

After an unforgettable time in South America, fly back home.

Bolivia Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home - São Paulo
Home - São Paulo
Flight
300
four-bed dorm
13
2. São Paulo
São Paulo
-
four-bed dorm
13
3. Sao Paulo
Sao Paulo
-
four-bed dorm
13
4. São Paulo - Santa Cruz
São Paulo - Santa Cruz
Flight
120
four-bed dorm
10
5. Santa Cruz - Sucre
Santa Cruz - Sucre
Flight
60
four-bed dorm
10
6. Sucre
Sucre
-
four-bed dorm
10
7. Sucre
Sucre
-
four-bed dorm
10
8. Sucre - Potosi
Sucre - Potosi
Bus
3
four-bed dorm
8
9. Potosi - Uyuni
Potosi - Uyuni
Bus
8
four-bed dorm
9
10. Uyuni
Uyuni
-
Tour Accommodation
11. Uyuni
Uyuni
-
Tour Accommodation
12. Uyuni
Uyuni
-
four-bed dorm
9
13. Uyuni - La Paz
Uyuni - La Paz
Bus
20
eight-bed dorm
9
14. La Paz
La Paz
-
eight-bed dorm
9
15. La Paz
La Paz
-
eight-bed dorm
9
16. La Paz
La Paz
-
eight-bed dorm
9
17. La Paz - Copacabana
La Paz - Copacabana
Bus
5
four-bed dorm
10
18. Copacabana
Copacabana
-
four-bed dorm
10
19. Copacabana - La Paz
Copacabana - La Paz
Bus
5
four-bed dorm
10
20. La Paz- São Paulo
La Paz- São Paulo
Flight
250
four-bed dorm
13
21. São Paulo – Home
São Paulo – Home
Flight
300

Total price.

Flights 1030,00
Transportation 41,00
Tours 253,00
Accommodation 183,00
Total1507,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Saltenas: This popular Bolivian breakfast consists of an oven-baked pastry filled with meat, carrots, peas and a sauce that is both sweet and tasty.

Soups

Sopa de mani: A soup made from peanuts, vegetables, noodles and a potato that is cut into thin pieces. The soup is served as a starter before lunch.

Fricase: A spicy soup made with pork or chicken and seasoned with cumin, garlic, onion, oregano, pepper and breadcrumbs to make the soup thicker. It is perfect in the morning if you happen to have a hangover after a long night.

Main courses

Sajta: A very traditional Bolivian dish, consisting of grilled chicken served with rice, tomatoes, onions and Andean potatoes that are freeze-dried, known as chuno. 

Tucumanas: These are fried Bolivian empanadas. A household favourite that is served with many different sauces.

Trucha: This is trout, usually prepared with lemon juice and served with rice and salad.

Pique Macho: This dish is similar to pan-fried meat. It consists of sliced meat, sausages, potatoes, onions, locoto, and boiled eggs covered with mayonnaise, mustard or ketchup.

Llawja: This salsa is served with most Bolivian dishes.

Anticucho: A popular party dish consisting of grilled beef heart or meat on a stick served with potatoes in a spicy peanut sauce.

Aji de fideo: A dish made with noodles and potatoes, locoto, herbs and minced meat from the western highlands.

Sonso: A dessert made of yucca dough, fried with cheese, eggs and butter. Interestingly, the word sonso also means silly in Spanish.

Drinks

Mate: A tea made from coca and herbs, which helps with altitude sickness.

Singani: A popular distilled brandy made from grapes.

Bolivia

The exchange rate for 1 Bolivian boliviano = 0.14 US dollars (as of December 2019). Below are the costs of purchasing some items or living expenses in Bolivia.

Cost of living 

Food

Free time

Dos

Greet the other travellers when you take a trufi (a public bus). Saying buenos días (good morning) and buenas tardes (good afternoon) is a good way to get on public transport in Bolivia.

Prepare yourself for high altitude, especially when hiking.

Note that Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, is 12,000 feet above sea level and the mountain ranges are between 17,618 and 19,974 feet above sea level. Make sure to drink plenty of water. Dehydration is a symptom of altitude sickness and drinking water is the best way to prevent it.

Don'ts

Don’t take pictures of strangers. You need permission first. Many locals believe that when a picture is taken of them, a part of their soul is captured.

Don’t take pictures of children. Ask the parents for permission beforehand. Bolivia has a reputation for child trafficking, so parents are sensitive when people take pictures of their children.

Don’t visit certain parts of the city. Areas such as Coronilla Hill in Cochabamba or Corico and Caranavi in the Yungas region are places known for organised crime. Tourists are at risk of being robbed or kidnapped in these areas. 

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

No

Temporary national ID

No

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

Not necessary 

Vaccine

Yes

Additional Remarks.

Travel documents must be valid for at least 6 months at the time of entry. We recommend researching the travel document, visa and entry requirements for your home country before your departure. If you travel to Bolivia, consult a health care provider before you leave to discuss vaccination requirements.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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