Bolivia, like many South American countries, is divided into several geographical zones, each of which has its own distinct climate. There is the high-altitude Andes in the west, with a climate similar to the Andean region of Peru, the lush hot and humid rainforest in the north, and the savanna region in the south and east, which is largely covered by the Gran Chaco and is predominantly semi-arid with little tree cover.
The rainy season is almost over, with the worst of the deluges now mostly done for the next six months. Just 1.2 inches (3 cm) will likely fall in La Paz this month, compared to four times that in January. This key fact means the tourists start to descend on the Andes. Those that do will be in for marginally colder but also marginally brighter weather than what March could offer. Expected temperatures will be 36°F-55°F (2°C-13°C). Especially, prepare for chillier nights: pack extra layers accordingly!
Cobija is broadly representative of this region overall. Here and elsewhere in the rainforest, the rain is decreasing, down to 7.3 inches (19 cm) of anticipated average precipitation. The temperatures have dropped a little, but in a humid region, this can be a blessing. The sun is showing itself more too: for an average of seven hours daily!
Santa Cruz is broadly indicative of this region as a whole, where it's getting drier, but also colder and brighter. Rainfall is down even on last month, and about half of what it was in January (now just 4.3 inches/11 cm). Meanwhile, the sun is shining more and more: only August has more hours of sun on average here. Temperatures are down only a couple of degrees in March, but they are set to drop more drastically over the coming months. For April, expect an average range of 66°F-82°F (19°C-28°C).
Crowds & Costs
Slowly but steadily as April progresses, there is an increase in the number of tourists coming to Bolivia. The reason for this is the first of the calendar year's decent dry weather. On top of this increase, there will be a dramatic spike in visitor numbers during the huge nationwide event of Semana Santa or Holy Week, which generally falls in April. Especially during this week, hotels leap from often being almost empty to being booked out for days or weeks in advance. Prices generally go up in April and have a particular habit of escalating during Semana Santa.
Where to Go
With fairer drier weather here, at last, it might be time to get outdoors: white water rafting near Coroico or hiking in one of Bolivia's high-altitude protected areas, like Apolobamba National Park. Lake Titicaca, too, and the Isla del Sol in its midst, becomes a magical prospect once the rainy weather subsides and the sun begins to sparkle ethereally on the waters. Copacabana, the main town on the lakeshore, also has special Semana Santa celebrations as pilgrims arrive on foot from La Paz. Semana Santa is also an entrancing prospect in Oruro.
The big news in the rainforest this month weather-wise is that the rain has slackened off so much that it is beginning to become the season when animals come out into the open more. Travelers should first head to Rurrenabaque. There are two main types of tours from here: a pampa tour where the focus is on the spectacular wildlife on nearby rivers, and the jungle tour, where the emphasis is on learning more about the native culture, although wildlife sightings still play a significant part. Trinidad is another city from where river trips into the jungle are possible.
Tarija is once more one of the most appealing destinations in this region, with a huge festival in the middle of the month. Tarija is a beautiful destination to check out at any time, and also benefits from being close to the Valle de la Concepción wine region. Around Santa Cruz, the lure of the great outdoors is also especially strong. Check out the rainforest area of Amboró National Park and the balmy national park gateway town of Samiapata is a lush hangout, also with the nearby archaeological site of Fuerte de Samiapata, an intriguing ancient pre-Inca, Inca, and colonial-era site.
What to Do
Whitewater rafting remains a possibility with the waters on the Río Corico near Coroico still swollen after recent rains. But hiking is the region's standout activity in April. Whether you choose to do so on the Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca or a protected mountainous area like Apolobamba National Park, where you can walk from village to village, the result will be breathtaking. April could also be the time to attend a festival, such as the Semana Santa celebrations and rituals at Copacabana or Oruro.
A wildlife tour will be your main objective in the Bolivian rainforest this month. The main thing to remember is that within the wider rainforest zone there are two habitats of special interest to travelers. Either one is easiest explored from the gateway settlement of Rurrenabaque, where you should choose between the pampa (more open than the jungle proper and also with many more wildlife-watching opportunities, including capybaras, the world's biggest and cutest rodent, and pink river dolphins).
On the other hand, a jungle tour could be more what you want. Here the focus is more on traditional culture and is an absorbing window into day-to-day life for the jungle's inhabitants. On such a tour, you will of course also see a lot of wildlife, in any case.
As often seems to be the case, this region does particularly well for festivals this month, so catching one of those could be the most interesting possibility. Tarija, which celebrates the Efemerides de Tarija (below) would be the obvious choice here. In all this bright sunny weather, seize the opportunity to venture off the beaten track, discovering the region's archaeology at Santa Cruz province's Jesuit missions or at Fuerte de Samiapata, or sampling the area's outstanding wine in the Valle de Concepcion. Hiking should also feature on your trip, and there is no better place for that than the fascinating and protected rainforest region of Amboró National Park.
Events in April
Semana Santa, nationwide. Holy week, as in other Latin American countries, regularly falls in April and is celebrated in Bolivia as elsewhere with processions, festivities, and stalls vending interesting street food.
Efemerides de Tarija, Tarija. April 15-16. In Tarija, where there always seems to be some sort of festival, this extravaganza celebrates three things: the town's anniversary, the battle of La Tablada de Tolomosa, and the area's gaucho culture during the Rodeo Chapaco, when there are horse races besides the inevitable dancing and high-spiritedness.
Traveling to Bolivia in April? Check out these great itineraries
Active Adventure in Bolivia - 7 Days One for the outdoor-lovers: get to experience one of the best national parks in Bolivia at Torotoro national park, with caving, hiking, and waterfall swimming on offer, as well as thriving La Paz and its nearby Valle de la Luna or Moon Valley.
Apolobamba National Park - 3 Days Tackle this village-to-village trek in the high Andes, learning about traditional medicine and sacred sites.