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    Colombia: Caribbean Sea coast. Go Now!

    Although most of the people live inland, Colombia also has its share of coastline along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (pictured). Go Now!

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    Ecuador: Sally Lightfoot Crab. Go Now!

    The Galapagos Islands and Ecuador are home to incredible wildlife, such as the famous Galapagos Turtle and the lesser known, but more common Red Rock or Sally Lightfoot crab (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Chile!

    Chile: Torres del Paine National Park. Go Now!

    The Andes dominate much of Chile, including the breath-taking Torres del Paine National Park (pictured). However, the country also hosts the world's driest desert and a thriving metropolis. Begin Your Journey!

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    Venezuela: Los Roques. Go Now!

    Rooted in Europe, Venezuela boasts an impressive history, culture, and beauty, including the Caribbean Coast (pictured). Explore Venezuela!

  • Bolivia!

    Bolivia: Salt flats. Go Now!

    This hidden gem is full of surprises, from the impressive salt flats (pictured) to the migrating flamingos. It also clings to the most historic indigenous culture on the continent. Explore Bolivia!

Geography, Weather, & Wildlife of Bolivia


Bolivian Geography - Salt Flats
Salt Flats

Bolivia is fairly mountainous, but more than just mountains, much of the country is simply high as nearly a third of the country stands on a plateau. This plateau runs along most of the country's western stretch and most of the cities and population live on this 12,000 feet (3,600 meter) plateau, although the surrounding mountains reach heights of over 21,000 feet (6,500 meters). Although high and in many places dry, this area is home to a number of rivers as well as Lake Titicaca. These waters provide some relief from the arid state and it is along these waterways that most of the people live.

Moving to the east and north the elevation and landscape changes. In the southeast the region, known as the Gran Chaco, is very dry in many regions and plant life is limited. Further north the land changes to savanna and large open grasslands, but again plant life and animals are limited. In the far north the lands fall dramatically in elevation as rains are more predictable and rivers feed the Amazon River tributaries as numerous forests exist.


Bolivian Geography - Salt Flats
Salt Flats

Bolivia may be a small country, but the geographic variations make the weather, including both temperatures and precipitation, drastically different from place to place and from season to season. Due to the mountains, weather patterns are also fairly unpredictable, but there are still some generalizations that can be made. People live throughout the country, but cities are rarely large. People live in the east and north where elevations are lower, rains are heavier, and plant and animals life are greater, but the plants also make transportation difficult in this region. Most people and cities are in the mountain valleys in the highlands where rains are fairly regular as numerous plants and animals call these mountains home. This doesn't make the region ideal for living, but it makes it livable and over time people have learned to adapt and survive in this harsh environment.

Bolivian Geography - Yacuma River
Yacuma River

Being fairly close to the equator, summers tend to run from about November to April. During this time of year the rains can be heavy (with the most rain in January) and the humidity rises. This is especially true at lower elevations along the rivers feeding the Amazon. Average day time highs during the summer months in La Paz are about 60-65° F (16-18° C) as nights dip to about 50-55° F (10-13° C) (note: official temperatures in La Paz are taken at the airport, which is at elevation so temperatures in the city itself are often about 10° F (5° C) warmer than official temperatures state; the temperatures listed here are city temperatures). Sucre is a bit warmer with nearly identical night temperatures, but highs reach 80° F (27° C) most days in November and December. At lower elevations in the jungle you can add a few degrees during the days, a few more at night, plus more rain and humidity.

Winters, which run from about June to September, get cooler, but they also tend to get much drier. La Paz boasts about the same day time highs as it does in the summer (60-65° F (16-18° C)), but the rains are uncommon and nights usually fall to 25° F (-4° C). Again Sucre is a bit warmer as highs average 72° F (22° C) and lows rarely get to freezing as they average 41° F (5° C) in the winter months. The rain forests and lower elevations again get a bit cooler in the winter months, but rarely do they get to the freezing point. In many locations the worst part of the winters are the harsh winds that can make it feel much cooler than it actually is, especially in the mountains.

The in between months of May and October are not that different from the surrounding months. These months may feel more like winter one year and more like summer the next.


Bolivian Wildlife - Puma (Cougar)
Cougar (Puma)

Bolivia is a landlocked country at high altitude, which somewhat limits the wildlife in the country. Despite this, the country has numerous areas at lower elevations so the wildlife is more diverse than one would initially believe. This diversity is very limited area to area; at elevation there tends to be one set of animals, while at lower elevations many of those plants and animals are absent, but a new set exists.

The mammalian life in Bolivia is well adjusted to the altitude as most of the wildlife is native to the Andes, or at least fits in with the alpine nation. A couple of the continent's most iconic animals are native to Bolivia including the llama, alpaca, vicuna (a camel species), cougars (puma), wolves, foxes, and deer. Smaller mammals and rodents also like the high altitude as the chinchilla (a local rodent), opossums, rats, squirrels, mice, rabbits, and bats are common. The tapir, sloth, armadillo, anteaters, and porcupine can sometimes also be found at lower elevations.

Bolivian Wildlife - Vicuna

Unlike the native mammalian life, Bolivia's sea life is almost non-existent. The country has no ocean access so their sea life is limited to the animals in their lakes and rivers. In the cold waters these animals are again very limited, but include some species of catfish, pike, and a few other freshwater fish.

However, the bird life is fairly significant as numerous birds love the alpine conditions as Bolivia has no shortage of birds, especially large birds. Condors, eagles, egrets, and the Andean flamingo are all common in Bolivia; the flamingos especially love the salt flats. Owls, partridges, coots, geese, finches, woodpeckers, and other birds can also be found in the lower forests.

The reptilian, amphibian, and insect life in Bolivia are somewhat limited, but definitely present, especially at lower elevations. Many of these animals are spiders, including the tarantula, and snakes, including the rattlesnake. Few insects can survive at high elevations, however flies, mosquitos, butterflies, and other insects can be found at lower elevations.

Bolivian Wildlife - Anteater

When it comes to native plant life, South America is home to many famous edible plants and these plants quickly spread throughout Bolivia, South America, and beyond. The pineapple is from the region where Brazil and Uruguay meet while potatoes and tobacco originated in the Andes Mountains; in fact some believe the potato is from the Lake Titicaca region. A few others, including cacao trees (used to make chocolate), peanuts, and tomatoes are also from South America, although their actual origin is unknown. Peppers, both sweet and hot peppers are from Central America or northern South America while vanilla, avocado, papaya, and corn (maize) are likely from Central America itself. No matter each food's origin, what is known is that these foods spread throughout the continent and to the country of Bolivia with the help of pre-historic people, animals, and winds. These people have had these foods for nearly as long as people have inhabited the region and each makes an important part of the people's diet and culture now and for thousands of years into the past.

In addition to these famous fruit bearing plants, Bolivia has a wide variety of trees and other plants. Numerous sturdy reeds are found in Lake Titicaca and used to make boats; quinoa, rubber trees, and many hard woods are also common in the country.

This page was last updated: March, 2013