Bolivia Holidays, Events, Climate and Sightseeing

Bolivia: Holidays and National Customs

Public holidays

Official holidays

  • January 1st
  • 1st of May
  • August 6th (Independence Day)
  • 25 December
  • December 31

Religious holidays

  • Maundy Thursday
  • Good Friday
  • Corpus Christi
  • June 29 (Peter and Paul)
  • August 15th (Assumption of Mary)
  • December 8th (Mary’s Conception)

Source: Countryaah – Bolivia Holidays


Many of the main festivals are Catholic holidays. In the highland regions, these are usually associated with an agricultural festival. Pre-Columbian traditions play an important role and have formed a fruitful synthesis with the colonial legacy. The best-known example is the music from the Bolivian highlands. It combines the traditional instruments of the pre-Columbian pastoral culture of Upper Peru, pan flutes, notched flutes and core gap flutes with the guitars and mandolins of the Spaniards.

A certain curiosity is “Sea Day”, which is celebrated on March 23rd. And that despite the fact that Bolivia had lost its access to the sea in the course of the saltpeter war with Chile from 1878 to 1884. The Bolivian Army currently has a navy of 1,800 men, with only a few ships in Lake Titicaca.

National customs

Photographing people without asking for permission is not welcome, especially in the countryside.

There are even some cases in which locals, with the help of German lawyers, sued for some € 1,000 for violating personal rights when their pictures were published.

Overly revealing clothing is neither appropriate in churches nor in everyday life.

Bolivia: Sightseeing

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Qhapaq Ñan

The approximately 6,000 km long Andean road Qhapaq Ñan connected the city of Quito in the north of the Inca Empire in today’s Ecuador with the city of Santiago in today’s Chile in the south. The road almost always runs at an altitude of around 3,500 m. Along the road the Inca set up checkpoints, set up storage facilities and there were hostels for travelers to stay overnight.

The Incas built suspension bridges to cross ravines and rivers, and cut steps in the rocks when it was necessary to get ahead. The Andean Strait goes through six different countries, these are:

Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and Peru.

The road touches the dry Maranon forest, runs through the rainforest of Chile and crosses valleys that connect the highlands of the 4,000 m high Andes and the tropical Amazon rainforest.

However, the road is threatened with disintegration, so only small parts are currently to be walked on. This includes the Sacred Valley from Cusco to Machu Picchu. In Ecuador there is the Ingapirca, an important Inca site.

It is about 50 km from the city of Azogues, and in Bolivia is Tiahuanaco – a pre-Inca ruin near the city of Tiawanacu.

The Inca-Andean Road is transnational and was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites for the countries concerned in 2014

Potosi, city and silver mines

Cerro Rico was the reason for the wealth of the wealthiest city of the Spanish colonial empire. This mountain contained immense silver deposits that only gradually dried up in the 18th century. The subsequent tin boom in the 19th century brought new prosperity to the residents. The mines in Silberberg claimed large numbers of lives. Potosi was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987

Jesuit missions of the Chiquitos

The ensemble of Jesuit missions of the Chiquitos includes six cities east and northeast of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. There are the cities:

San Francisco Javier, Concepción, Santa Ana, San Miguel, San Rafael, San José de Chiquitos that are relatively far apart. Between 1696 and 1790, the Jesuits founded settlements for the indigenous people who had converted to Christianity.

The six so-called reduction villages offered protection from Brazilian slave traders for 2,000-3,000 Indians of the Chiquitos and Guarani Indians. In these reductions, Indian and European construction methods were mixed to create a new architectural style. The Jesuit Martin Schmid designed most of the churches of the Chiquitos.

The villages have been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.

Old town of Sucre

The city of Sucre is located in the south of the country at an altitude of around 2,900 m and is the capital of the Chuquisaca department. It was founded in 1538 by Marques de Campo Redondo. It was called from 1829 after the freedom fighter and first president Antonio Sucre y de Alcalá . The old town of Sucre with its white buildings is probably the best-preserved Spanish colonial city in South America, where you can still visit the Supreme Court Corte Suprema de Justicia and the Casa de la Libertad, a building complex in which Bolivia’s independence was declared and signed in 1825. The old town of Sucre was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1991

Pre-Columbian fortress Samaipata

The fortress Samaipata is a ruin site of the Inca culture in the country – situated on a plateau southwest of Santa Cruz near the city of Samaipata. At the southern edge of the facility is a deep hole called El Hueco. It is believed that the purpose of the complex was for defense. The fortress is located on a mountain top at an altitude of 1,950 m in the eastern Andes. The area of the fortress is about 40 hectares and it is carved out of a sandstone rock. Numerous lines, figures and depictions of animals are carved into it. Remains of settlements that are probably 3,500 years old have been found south of the rock. The fortress was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998. Noel Kempff Mercado National Park

The Noel Kempff Mercado National Park is located in the Amazon basin in Bolivia. The area of the park is 15,240 km² and consists of areas of the Huanchaca high plateau and the surrounding lowlands. There is a lot of water in the park through streams and rivers that have numerous waterfalls. The vegetation is diverse and you can find tropical rainforests, dry forests and savannas there. Numerous mammals, reptiles and birds live there. There are also over 250 different species of fish in the waters. The life of the animals is favored by a variety of plants, more than 4,000 different plants are said to thrive there.

In 2000 the national park was included in the list of UNESCO World Natural Heritage. Pre-Columbian ruins at Tiahuanaco

The ruins of Tiahuanaco are about 4,000 m high and about 70 km west of La Paz in the high plateau of the Altiplano around Lake Titicaca. It is a culture that predates the Inca culture. So far only very few of the ruins of the entire area have been excavated. The time of this culture goes back to 1500 BC. Dated to AD 1200. Since the lake has shrunk over the years, the sites are now about 20 km from the shore of the lake. So far, ceramic objects and ruins have been found that were precisely aligned with astronomical criteria. The Sun Gate, probably the most famous monument of the time, is 3 m high and 3.75 m wide. It is made from a block of andesite. On the gate is a frieze with a deity holding two serpent sceptres in his hands, to see. In 1908 the gate, which was broken by an earthquake, was rebuilt. Nearby is the Puma Punku field of ruins, in which monoliths (objects made from a stone) of the Aymara Indians can be seen.

The ruins were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000.

Major cities in the country


is the most important ruined city in the country. Many of the remains of the Tiahuanaco culture have been lost due to construction and are now in the walls of churches or the railway bridges of Bolivia. The city was built by the ancestors of the Aymará Indians. The 18 m high Akapana step pyramid, the ruler’s palace and the Kalasaya solar observatory with its sun gate and its sun monoliths are located on the extensive grounds.

La Paz

La Paz is set against the backdrop of the highest mountain in the country, the snow-capped Illimani, in a valley of the Altiplano at an altitude of 3,600 to 4,000 m above sea level. La Paz is one of the highest cities in the world. Founded by the Spanish in 1548, the city became important for the transport of silver and later became the center of the country in the 19th century during the tin boom. In 1898 the seat of government was moved here, while Sucre is the capital. The architecture of the colonial era as well as the republican era is worth seeing.

A restored old town, a number of interesting museums, cafes and a lively market area await the visitor.


Potosí has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 – see above for details.


Sucre is the capital of Bolivia while La Paz is the seat of government. The old town has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991.

Special structures

Royal Mint

The Royal Mint in Potosí dates from 1759-1773

Government Palace

The Government Palace in La Paz was built in the years 1845-1852.

Cristo de la Concordia

This statue of Christ is even slightly larger than the one in Rio de Janeiro.


Museum San Francisco

In La Paz.

Museum of Contemporary Art (Museo de Arte Contemporaneo)

In La Paz.

Coca Museum

In La Paz.

Musical Instrument Museum (Museo de Instrumentos Musicales de Bolivia)

In La Paz.

Museum of Precious Metals (Museo de Metales Preciosos Precolombinos)

In La Paz.

Bolivian Andean Textile Museum (Museo de Textiles Andinos Bolivianos)

In La Paz.

Submerged Museum (Museo Subterraneo)

In La Paz.

Casa de la Libertad

In Sucre.

Casa Nacional de Moneda

Centro de Arte Contemporáneo (Art Museum)


Potosí Natural History Museum


Theater in Sucre

The theater in Sucre was built in 1845)


San Fransisco Church

(1744-1784) in La Paz

Santo Domingo Church

(1760) in La Paz


(1831-1925) in La Paz

Church of San Lorenzo

(1728-1744) in Potosí


(1808-1836) in Potosí

San Lazaro Church

(1544) in Sucre

San Fransisco Church

(1581) in Sucre

San Miquel Church

(1621) in Sucre


(1559) in Sucre

Important universities

University in Sucre

The University in Sucre was founded in 1624

Natural beauties


The Chacaltaya is a mountain in the Bolivian Cordillera Real with two peaks, namely with the mountain station of the former ski lift at an altitude of 5,395 m and the neighboring peak at 5,421 m. On the Chacaltaya, the Bolivian Universidad Mayor San Andrés (UMSA) operates an observatory in cooperation with other universities at an altitude of 5,220 m, which is known for its measurements of gamma radiation from space. The mountain is accessible by car up to a height of 5,200 m – organized excursions are offered from La Paz.

At the end of the road there is a hut belonging to the Austrian Alpine Club, which is now operated by the Club Andino Boliviano. For many years, the Chacaltaya region was considered the highest ski area in the world. However, since the glacier has shrunk considerably in recent years and has completely disappeared since 2009, there is no longer any ski operation. However, you can still climb the summit on foot without any problems. However, it should be noted that the altitude can lead to problems including altitude sickness.

The Chacaltaya lies between the 6,088 m high Huayna Potosí and the highest peak of the Illimani massif with 6,439 m. From the summit of Chacaltaya you can see these two mountain peaks, numerous other peaks, and in good weather Lake Titicaca and the cities of La Paz and El Alto, which are about 30 km away

Illimani massif

The Illimani massif is located in the Andes and has the second highest mountain in Bolivia with a peak of 6,439 m. The massif has the following four peaks over 6,000 m:

– Pico del Indio (Pico Sur) in the south of the massif with a height of 6,439 m.

– Pico La Paz (Pico Central) with a height of 6,362 m

– Pico Kuhm (Norte) with a height of 6,380 m

– Pico París with a height of 6,043 m.

From La Paz you can see the Pico del Indio and the Pico Kuhm.

The British William Martin Conway made the first ascent in 1898. As part of the German Bolivia expedition of 1950, Hans Ertl climbed the Illimani north summit single-handedly. Hans Ertl and the geologist Gert Schröder then managed the first ascent of the Illimani southern summit.

The starting point for the ascent of the four peaks is the village of Pinaya.

The Chilean music group Inti-Illimani takes its name from this mountain.


is the name of a thousand-year-old city whose history began as the center of the “Chiripa” culture. From there you can see the southern celestial zodiac sign, the “Southern Cross”, and this is where the name of the city comes from: “Star Trail”.

Isla de la Luna

The island is located in Lake Titicaca

Valle de la Luna

The “valley of the moon” is in the immediate vicinity of La Paz and is worth seeing because of its appearance with strange crater-like erosion forms.

Salar de Uyuni

The Salar de Uyuni (also Salar de Tunupa) covers an area of 10,580 km² and is the largest salt lake in the world. It is around 80 km from the eponymous city of Uyuni, which was a garrison town during the so-called Saltpeter War, but is now primarily used as a starting point for tourists.

The salt lake was formed over 10,000 years ago when the Tauca paleo lake dried up. It is over 120 m deep with a salt crust at least 30 m thick.

The Salar de Uyuni is located in the southwest of Bolivia at an altitude of 3,655 m. During the dry season from the end of June to the beginning of December, it can be accessed by cars, trucks or buses without any problems, but it can also be explored on foot.

But during the rainy season, a layer of water over 50 cm thick can form, which makes it partially impassable. Except for a few species of flamingo, there are no living things here. In the lake is the island of Incahuasi, which is known for its many meter-high column cacti, some of which are more than 1,200 years old.

Another island in the lake is Isla del Pescado. It is estimated that there are around ten billion tons of salt in the lake, of which around 25,000 tons are mined every year.

It is important to mention that the salt lake is home to one of the world’s largest lithium deposits with an estimated 5.5 million tons.


War The so-called saltpeter war was a war that was waged between Chile from 1879 to 1884 against the allied countries Peru and Bolivia for the Región de Arica y Parinacota, the Región de Tarapacá and the Región de Atacama. Nowadays the areas belong to Chile.

The reason for the war was a new export tax introduced by Bolivia in February 1878 for Chilean saltpetre companies, which was a clear violation of the border treaty of 1874, in which the increase of existing taxes or the levying of new taxes on these Chilean companies was expressly prohibited for 25 years had been.

Madidi National Park

The Madidi National Park is located around 200 km northwest of La Paz and covers an area of around 18,960 km².

The national park stretches from the eastern foothills of the snow-covered Andean cordillera to the western part of the tropical Amazon river basin – with the Río Madidi and Río Tuichi.

The park extends from a height of around 180 m to 5,760 m

. An estimated 5,000 different plant species grow in the park. Together with around 1,370 different vertebrate species, including 160 mammal species, the national park is one of the most species-rich regions in the world

Particularly noteworthy are spectacled bears, mountain cats, jaguars, North Andean deer, pumas and salt cats.

Around 870 different species of birds also live here. In addition, around 88 species of amphibians can be found in the park, which is around 85% of all of Bolivia.

And about 180 species of reptiles can be found here, including the following snakes:

– Anaconda (Eunectes murinus) – the big snake far wide (non-toxic)

– Balck faces Lancehead (Bothrops pauloensis)

– Bolivian lance viper (Bothrops sanctaecrucis)

– Brazilian lance viper (Bothrops moojeni)

– Brasil`s lance viper (Bothrops brazili)

– Common lance viper (Bothrops atrox)

– Green Jararaca (Bothrops bilineatus)

– Jaracussu Lanzenotter (Bothrops jararacussu)

– Jonathan Lanzenotter (Bothrops jonathani)

– Mato Grosso Lanzenotter (Bothrops matogrossensis)

– Peru Forest Pit Viper (Bothrops oligolepis)

– Speckled Forest Pit Viper (Bothrops taeniatus)

– Lachesis Muta (Lachesis muta)

– tropical- or shower rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus

Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America and a sacred lake known through myths and legends at an altitude of 3,812 m and thus one of the highest lakes on earth.

It enchants with its unbelievably clear water, has 36 islands and an area of 8,290 km² – with a maximum depth of 365 m. The border with Peru to the west runs through the middle of the lake, which therefore belongs to both countries.

Its water is fed by around 25 rivers, while the only outflow is the Río Desaguadero. But between 80 to 90% of the water evaporates and only the rest of 10 to 20% flows away via the river.

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