We were interested in Bolivia for both the Andes and the Amazon. We wanted initally to reach the Pantanal area, but at that time of the year (wet season) that was accessible only from Brazil at a high cost. We then contacted Nick’s adventure Bolivia, which tailored us three different amazon expeditions from Santa Cruz. We recommend those guys since the Amazon places are very remote and almost impossible to reach by yourself. They also don’t charge much.
Once sorted out, we spread our ten extra days in the Andes to visit the most famous landmarks, and planned the classic back-packer tour without painful back-pack (travel trolley ⚔️).
1. Amboro National Park in 2 days
Parrots, monkeys and waterfalls
2. San Miguelito in 3 days
Camera traps and rafting
3. Chuchini Reserve in 3 days
Pink dolphins, anacondas and old civilization
4. Santa Cruz in 4 days
Sand hills and relaxing
5. Sucre in 2 days
Unesco city centre
6. Salar de Uyuni in 4 days
Salt flat deserts and volcanoes
7. La Paz in 2 days
Telecabins, cliffs and viewpoints
8. Copacabana in 2 days
Titicaca lake, chill and border crossing
General Tips 👏
- Everyone speaks a spanish 🇪🇸 that you can understand if you did a bit at school.
- Count 20£/night, 5£/meal.
- Distances are huge, specially in the mountain area.
- People in the low-lands are lovely, a bit less in the highland.
- It’s not a rich country, but to be fair not that poor neither.
- We never felt in danger at any time, it’s very safe. Use common sense during your stay, specially in cities.
- Booking flight and hotel in advance is a good idea, but not activities and bus. Agencies for tourism will charge you four times the price for the same thing. Go the day before.
- Coca leaf is very common and you should try it.
- The administrative capital is Sucre (two of the four powers of the state, shared with La Paz). The biggest city and most active is Santa Cruz.
- Altitude sickness is serious, allow some time to acclimate yourself and get some Soroche pills.
We spent 3600£ in the Amazon area with our different expeditions, and we spent 1982£ in the Andes on 14 days, which means 140£/day, and that was comfortable. The banks to withdraw without extra-fees are (full list):
- Flying around is relatively cheap and will make you save quite some time. Most of air routes are operated by BOA, Amaszonas or LATAM, easy to find on Google Flight.
- Commute by bus during the day is very cool since bus are nice and views are splendid.
- Netflix: Perfect for rainy days.
- XCurrency: Offline and up-to-date currency rates.
- TravelSpend: Log and budget your expenses day by day.
- Maps.me: Free offline map of the world, including trail paths.
- FourSquare: Perfect to find the best restaurants in a very easy way.
- AirBnB and Booking.com: The best to find cheap accommodations.
- Facebook: There’s some active groups related to traveller in South America where you can ask tips and advices.
- A lot of people sell food on the road. Don’t fear to try some of the cakes or fruits they sell, really good for the price.
- There’s usually fresh juice with every meal.
- Try the local fruit Achachairú, and the local cherry Acerola, containing 12 times more D-Vitamin than the orange.
- Pique Macho is the perfect dish for hangover.
- They are big on quinoa since it grows at high altitude.
There’s two main telecom operators: Tigo and Entel. Both of those have a stand at the Santa Cruz’s airport. When buying a SIM card, ask a local to help you since you have to register your SIM with your passport and everything is in spanish.
We went for Tigo, and it was 30Bs for the SIM, and extra 150Bs for 4GB on a month. Once you have a SIM, the best to top-up is to download their app, buy recharges in the city and load them onto your account in the app.
The coverage was very good in the city (4G) but almost inexistant in the remote areas. If you plan like us to go in the wild, go with Entel.
There’s no need for a visa when entering in Bolivia if you’re from EU/UK. The border is seemless.
Beside our multiples jungle excursions in east Bolivia, we’ve booked all our stays via Booking.com and never had any problems. All the accommodations where in good shape, safe and most of the time in nice houses, with everything you need inside.
There’s also plenty of backpacker hostel available in the country for cheap prices.
During our visit, tourism was not very active due to political issues with the former president, but that didn’t affected our stay at all. According to the guides we talked with, usually there’s people from everywhere coming visiting Bolivia, in particular German, English, American and French.
Overall, there’s two main attractions: the highland landscapes (Uyuni, La Paz…) and the lowland jungle. The former one is the most common but the jungle tourism starts slowly to rise. While not as famous as the Salar de Uyuni, the Bolivian jungle and reserves are full of animals which worth to check out.
Packing List 📦
- Warm clothes (temperature can go below 0°C in the Andes)
- Rain jacket
- Hikking shoes (two pairs) and trouser
- Foldable towel
- Moskito repellent and net
- Re-usable water bottle
- Medication for altitude.
- Kjarkas - Saya de Cochabamba: The song you won’t get off of your head.
- Kjarkas - T´una Papita: Same same.
Overall Experience 🤓
Our stay in Bolivia was nothing but incredible. The landscape are gorgeous, the people are great and it’s pretty cheap, safe and easy to move around. Both the Amazon basin and the Andes areas are fantastic places to visit. It’s one of those places where in three hours bus, you feel you change of continent. We also heard good stuff about the Cochabamba area, and some hikes on the Andes mountain. We’re not super sporty, but if that’s your thing, make sure to allocate enough time to get used to the altitude.
Hope this was helpful, you can leave comments if you need extra informations or if you have any questions or suggestions! You can checkout our summary video below built with 1 second a day.
Read Next ⏭️
Our 2 days stay in Amboro National Park.