What to do in Bolivia? 13 activity ideas
Whether you are in search of culture, history or adventure, Bolivia has it all. Let yourself be seduced by La Paz, its museums and historic past. You will be surprised by the the folklore and traditional beliefs. And on Sundays, don't miss the women's wrestling - there's nothing else like it in the world!
Then head out to discover Bolivia's flora and wildlife, while attempting the 6,000 metre summits of the Cordillera Royale. Or head for Sajama, the large national park which aims to protect the rich diversity of the local flora and fauna.
Before leaving the country, relax with a glass of fine wine from the Tarija region and sample a few traditional Bolivian dishes. Better still, take a cookery class. There is so much to do in Bolivia - see our list of activities to do there.
CultureA local market
Visit unusual Bolivian markets
Alone or with a local tour guide, you can visit Bolivian markets. They really are an absolute must. Cloths in thousands of colours, silver jewellery, coca, fresh fruit juice and local dishes will delight you.
For the curious and those with a strong stomach, head to the Witches Market. You'll learn about magical ornaments and and the uses of mummified llama foetuses.
CultureThe church of San José de Chiquitos
Take in the historic sites
Abounding in history, Bolivia is full of museums and historic sites, each as beautiful and interesting as the next. In Sucre, stop at the Tesoro Museum and the Museum of Indigenous Arts. Don't leave Santa Cruz without visiting the Chiquitania Church. In La Paz, take a tour through Calle San Juan and definitely visit the National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore and the Basilica Menor de Nuestra Senora de la Paz. You can even participate in a mass if you really want to immerse yourself. There are so many beautiful things to see.
CultureA traditional Bolivian dish
The flavours of Bolivian cuisine
Enjoy a private tour of La Paz to discover its local food culture. On the menu: a visit to the market to discover local produce and how to prepare local dishes, such as potato soups and stews, and fish freshly caught from lake Titicaca.
Did you know that Bolivia produces its own chocolate? Don't miss a visit to a chocolate factory for dessert!
CultureWine tasting in Salar de Uyuni
Take the Tarija wine route
Few people know that Bolivia is a wine producing country. Colonialists brought the first vines with them 500 years ago. Mainly found in the Tarija region to the south of the country, you can sample some very good vintages. At 1,700 to 3,000 metres altitude, the unique geographic location imparts a rich flavour to the grapes. You can visit several bodegas (vineyards) in Tarija - a pleasant and tasty way to spend your time.
Take part in a Bolivian festival
Their reputation is second to none. Some people travel the globe just for the occasion. The largest festival is a celebration of renaissance and baroque music in the Jesuit Mission in Chiquitania near Santa Cruz, in March - April. This UNESCO world heritage site is magnificent and the music adds a little magic to the place. These shows really are a sight to be seen.
CultureThe memorial monument to Che Guevara
Pay tribute to Che Guevara
Bolivia has witnessed several historic events and, in particular, one more recent than others. In 1967, the revolutionary guerilla Che Guevara was shot to death by the Bolivian army in the Santa Cruz area. You can learn about his last movements and discover his tomb where his corpse was publicly displayed before being buried in an anonymous grave.
A visit to this historic area also allows you to make the most of the tropical Valle Grande and Samaipata.
Bring Bolivian culture to life for the children
If you have decided to travel to Bolivia with children, don't panic. There are plenty of things to see and do with the kids. In La Paz, you can visit the Pipiripi Museum. It's very straightforward but well-organised and children love entering the museum by cable-car.
In Sucre, don't miss the fossil themed Cretacico Park where the children can rummage through the sand to find dinosaur bones.
RelaxationA women's wrestling match
Watch a women's wrestling match
Particularly in La Paz, you can watch 'Cholitas' (a perjorative Spanish term for country women) wrestling. In traditional Aymara and Quecha dress, the women wrestle in a ring. It can be fairly rough, but you will be immersed in a traditional and authentic local custom. Whole families come to spectate at these matches which generally take place on Sundays around 5.00pm.
RelaxationLlamas and alpacas around Sajama volcano
Enjoy the local flora and fauna
The country is not yet well developed and has kept much of its diverse natural features. The flora and fauna are very rich. As well as llamas and alpacas, you'll have the chance to see bears, jaguars, monkeys, alligators, capybaras, condors and much more besides.
If you love plants and flowers, you won't be left out. Plants have evolved in the unique environment of the high plateaus. Rare and spectacular examples of Bolivia's flora include the Puya raimondi cactus which only flowers once every 100 years and the 'quenua quine' which only grows above 4,000 metres altitude on the slopes of the Sajama volcano.
SportWalking through Torotoro park
Walk the national parks and nature reserves
Nature lovers are spoilt in Bolivia. The diversity of the countryside is impressive and offers a wide variety of hikes and walks for all levels. Some parks, such as Torotoro, contain fossils and others, such as Sajama, provide the opportunity to climb volcanoes between 4,00 and 6,500 metres altitude. Wear sturdy walking shoes!
SportDescending the Road of Death
Take the Road of Death by mountain bike
From La Paz, take the road to Yungas. A few years ago, this road was heavily used by buses and trucks. Every year, between 200 and 300 people died on this road. Today, the road is used only for tourism.
In four hours, over 35 miles, the altitude drops from 4,700 metres to 1,200 metre. The views are breathtaking as are the cliff edges. Not technically difficult, the descent only requires courage!
SportThe El Choro Trail
If you love extreme sports, Bolivia is for you. Take the Chapara or Rio Coroica rapids by raft or kayak. It's good preparation for paragliding around Sucre or an alpine expedition in the Cordillera Real.
However, these activities are reserved for the most experienced. Climbing to 6,000 metres requires knowledge and practise.
AdventureThe La Paz cable car
Getting high in La Paz
In 2014, the Bolivian capital built an urban cable car to service the surrounding areas and ease traffic flow. It is the largest in the world and covers over 12 miles. Use the cable car to reach El Alto, with breathtaking views at 4,100 metres above sea level. The cable car is nicknamed "El Teleferico and even has its own song. It a mode of transport which has become a cultural event.