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AN IN-DEPTH THREE WEEK BOLIVIA BACKPACKING ITINERARY & ROUTE

From the metropolis of La Paz surrounded by glaciated peaks and lush valleys, to the beautiful white expanse of the Uyuni salt flat – Bolivia is an incredible country with a variety of things to do to suit every traveller. Three weeks is perfect to see everything it has to offer but we’ve also laid out a 10 day and one-week itinerary as well if you are short on time.

HOW MANY DAYS DO YOU NEED IN BOLIVIA?

Bolivia is one of the smallest and least travelled countries in South America, so travellers tend to spend less time there.

 

We recommend 7 days minimum in Bolivia to make the necessary trip to the highlights of La Paz and the Uyuni Salt Flats which we’ve detailed above.

 

However, 10-14 days is ideal to fit in a trip to the Amazon and Lake Titicaca and give yourself a bit of extra time in each place so you aren’t rushing.

BOLIVIA ITINERARIES AND ROUTES

There’s a lot more on offer in Bolivia if you have time.

 

Not only is it one of the cheapest countries to visit the Amazon Rainforest from, but it several sites off the beaten track which we think are worth a visit.

 

We’ve detailed our three-week itinerary below with two other itineraries which may interest you if you have less time to explore.

 

Here are our 3 planned itineraries:

 

  • Itinerary 1 – The ‘Off the Beaten Track’ – three weeks: La Paz, Amazon, Cochabamba/Torotoro, Sucre, Uyuni and Tupiza
  • Itinerary 2 – The ‘Highlights’ – 10 days: La Paz, Amazon and Uyuni
  • Itinerary 3 – The ‘In and Out’ – 7 days: La Paz and Uyuni

THE 'OFF THE BEATEN TRACK' THREE WEEK BOLIVIA ITINERARY

Who is this itinerary for? – a traveller who has no defined time limit who wants to travel slowly through Bolivia, venture off the beaten track and see everything the country has to offer.

 

This is also an itinerary designed for backpackers and based on getting buses most places as it saves money.

 

Itinerary breakdown:

 

  • Day 1 – Land
  • Day 2 – City day in La Paz
  • Day 3 – Death Road
  • Day 4 – Fly to Rurrenabaque
  • Day 5-6 – Amazon Pampas tour
  • Day 7 – Return to Rurrenabaque
  • Day 8 – Fly to La Paz/ La Paz city day
  • Day 9 – Travel to Cochabamba
  • Day 10-11 – Torotoro National Park
  • Day 12 – Return to Cochabamba
  • Day 13 – Travel to Sucre
  • Day 14-16 – Sucre city day
  • Day 17 – Travel to Uyuni
  • Day 17-18 – Salt flats tour
  • Day 19 – Travel to Tupiza
  • Day 20-21 – Tupiza
  • Day 22 – Travel to North Argentina

Day 1-3 - La Paz

Whether you’re flying in from abroad, or taking a bus, take your first day in Bolivia easy by checking in and adjusting to the altitude.

 

If you arrive early enough, you can explore the city or see the Cholita wrestling (depending on the day).

 

For day 2, book onto a Red Cap walking tour to explore the sprawl that is La Paz, ride the cable cars around to some incredible viewpoints and then spend the evening enjoying the lively bar and club scene.

 

On your last day, it’s a full day of adrenaline fuelled fun on the Death Road tour.

 

Our complete guide to Death Road and what to expect can be found here. Just don’t fall off as Koum did!

 

Our 3 day La Paz itinerary can be found in full here and this specific 3 day breakdown can be found in more detail here.

Day 4-7 - Rurrenabaque and Amazon Tour

Visiting the Amazon in Bolivia is cheaper and easier compared to other countries in South America.

 

First, you need to get yourself to the town of Rurrenabaque were tours leave from which is either a short 20 minute flight or a 20 hour night bus. We know which one we would choose.

 

The Amazon tour is 3 days and 2 nights, and we took a day either side in Rurrenabaque to enjoy the laid-back jungle town and recuperate.

 

On the tour, your days will be spent on a longboat winding through the tributaries of the Amazon searching for caimans, anacondas, and exotic birds. You can fly in early to Rurrenabaque and jump straight on a tour if you wish, and the same for returning to La Paz if you want to save time, but this three week itinerary is planned to avoid rushing.

 

Our complete guide to booking an amazon tour and flying to Rurrenabaque can be found here.

 

And if you aren’t sure whether you want to do the Pampas Tour or Jungle Tour then head here for our breakdown and comparison of the two.

Day 8 - La Paz

You can catch a night bus to Cochabamba the day you fly back from the Amazon to save time or you can enjoy one last day in La Paz.

 

If you stay the night, you could swap out the laid back city day (from day 2) to here and do something more exciting the first time around such as the Valley of the Moon and the Valley of Souls.

 

Or simply take it easy and enjoy a good meal in the city. You have a long journey to the next exciting destination.

Day 9 - Cochabamba

A 9-hour early morning bus or night bus will take you to the city of Cochabamba.

 

There isn’t much to do here accept pack a small pack and plan your journey to the epic Jurassic Park of Bolivia, Torotoro National Park.

 

Read our city guide for our hostel and restaurant recommendations.

Day 10-13 - Torotoro National Park

Famous for its incredibly well-preserved fossils and dinosaur footprints, towering canyons, surreal rock formations and sprawling network of underground caves, this national park has something for nature lovers and natural history nerds alike.

 

It’s an additional 4-5-hour journey from Cochabamba to Torotoro though so it’s best to stay a couple of nights.

 

Our guide to visiting Torotoro National Park can be found here.

 

Returning to Cochabamba is the same, so you can either take a night there and leave in the morning or jump on a night bus to Sucre.

Day 14-16 - Sucre

For a nice city break a world away from the urban sprawl of La Paz, its time to head to Bolivia’s famous white city of Sucre.

 

Two days here is perfect to enjoy the artisan cafes, amazing chocolate shops and beautiful views of the colonial era buildings and terracotta rooftops. Its also the perfect place for a night out with lots of lively bars catering towards the university student population.

 

Our favourite things to do including the best bars and restaurants can all be found in our Sucre city guide.

Day 17 - Travel To Uyuni

Unfortunately, another long bus is needed to get to your next destination. You can fly internally in Bolivia but we are going with buses to keep transport costs cheap.

 

Best to try and take a night bus or an early morning one and spend the afternoon booking onto a tour. You can then take the evening to organise your stuff and prepare the epic adventure out on the salt flats starting the next morning.

Day 18-19 - Uyuni Salt Flats Tour

Two days exploring one of the most surreal landscapes in the world, the Uyuni Salt Flats.

 

This is one of the most incredible places in the whole of South America and shouldn’t be missed.

 

Day one is spent on the actual salt flats taking the all-important perspective and reflection photos before spending a night in the famous salt hotel. Day 2 takes you out onto the Altiplano to see even wilder landscapes such as volcanoes, geysers, and beautiful high-altitude lakes full of flamingos.

 

The salt flats tour will either drop you off in the Atacama on the morning of the third day or take you back to Uyuni for the late afternoon. You may need one extra day to travel back to La Paz if you are flying out.

Day 20-21 - Tupiza

Known as the wild west of Bolivia, this small town is famous for is incredible red coloured cliffs and canyons which you are free to explore.

 

We returned to Tupiza after our salt flats tour as we wanted to visit North Argentina before Chile.

 

We spent two nights here and one full day trekking in the canyon. From here it’s a comfortable 2-hour journey to reach the Argentinian border.

 

This isn’t the most economical of journeys however and should only be done if you wish to see another hidden gem in Bolivia and then go on to Argentina. You could easily loop back round to La Paz and head to Copacabana before going to Peru or continue on into Chile.

THE 'HIGHLIGHTS' 10 DAY BOLIVIA ITINERARY

Who is this itinerary for? – the traveller without a strict time limit who can spare a few days to add on another fantastic experience of visiting the Amazon. This itinerary is perfect for you if you haven’t already visited the Amazon in South America as it’s much cheaper to do in Bolivia.

 

Itinerary breakdown:

 

  • Day 1 – Land / La Paz City Day
  • Day 2 – Valley Of Souls Tour
  • Day 3 – Death Road
  • Day 4 – Fly to Rurrenabaque
  • Day 5 – Amazon Tour Day 1
  • Day 6 – Amazon Tour Day 2 / return to Rurrenabaque
  • Day 7 – Fly to La Paz / La Paz city day
  • Day 8 – Travel to Uyuni
  • Day 9-10 – Uyuni salt flats tour
  • Day 11 – Travel on to Atacama, Chile or back to La Paz

This 10-day Bolivia itinerary has lots of flexibility.

 

You could take an early morning flight from La Paz to Rurrenabaque and jump on an Amazon tour the same day to save time.

 

You could also do the same coming back and jump straight on a plane back to La Paz after your Amazon tour. Doing this will free up a day or two but may make your journey more rushed.

 

Also, we haven’t included Lake Titicaca on this itinerary as we visited it in Peru, but this can’t be missed if you are only visiting Bolivia.

 

It would fit perfectly into this 10 day itinerary to turn it into two weeks. If you are taking a bus from Cusco to Bolivia, then you can stop off in Copacabana for a few nights before reaching La Paz or vice versa if you are travelling into Peru.

THE 'IN AND OUT' 1 WEEK BOLIVIA ITINERARY

Who is this itinerary for? – the South America backpacker who’s wanting to tick off as many countries as possible but without the time to explore all of Bolivia’s hidden gems fully.

 

This itinerary will have you getting in, seeing everything La Paz has to offer and then finishing off with one of the best sights in the whole of South America, the salt flats.

 

You will leave feeling like you’ve done more than just a week.

 

It also fits nicely into a longer South America journey if you are entering Bolivia from Peru as you can then travel to La Paz, then down to Uyuni and then get dropped off by your salt flat tour in Atacama, Chile. Efficient!

 

Itinerary Breakdown:

 

  • Day 1 – Land
  • Day 2 – City day in La Paz
  • Day 3 – Death Road
  • Day 4 – Travel to Uyuni
  • Day 5 – Uyuni salt flats tour day 1
  • Day 6 – Uyuni salt flats tour day 2 /
  • Day 7 – Travel on to Atacama, Chile or back to La Paz

If you are a crazy person who wants to squeeze everything into a week then you could try this:

 

  • Day 1 – Land / La Paz City Day
  • Day 2 – Death Road
  • Day 3 – Early flight to Rurrenabaque / Amazon tour day 1
  • Day 4 – Amazon tour day 2
  • Day 5 – Amazon tour day 3 / flight to Uyuni
  • Day 6 – Salt flat tour day 1
  • Day 7 – Salt flat tour day 2
  • Day 8 – Travel to next destination or home

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