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 Andes rise like a spectacular curtain above La Paz, where many travelers come to acclimatize before venturing further into the mountains. The city is a benchmark for the weather in the region in general. As in July, the temperatures in August remain on the cool side, peaking at 55°F/13°C, and sometimes plummeting to 30°F/-1°C. Nights are often crisp, cold and starry, so be sure to pack additional layers.
The sun often shines during the day (around eight hours on average). Head even higher into the Andes it becomes chillier still after dark, with lows of 23°F/-5°C at the Salar de Uyuni and Lake Titicaca.
It’s still dry season in August, which improves access by road to otherwise hard-to-reach corners of the Amazon. There's lots of sunshine (approximately eight hours a day) and comparatively little rain (just five days on average), though things begin to get hotter and steamier towards the end of the month. As a point of reference, take Cobija, near the Brazilian border in the north of Bolivia. Here temperatures are hitting up to 91°F/33°C, with lows of around 63°F/17°C. When the rains do come, they rarely last long, with thunderstorms and showers often giving way to brilliant sunshine.
August is the driest month of the year in Bolivia’s lowlands, with just three days of rain on average, making it a prime time to get out and explore the savanna’s little-known trails on foot or by bike. The sun shines more frequently than at any other time now: up to nine hours a day. Santa Cruz is broadly representative of the region as a whole, with highs of up to 82°F/28°C, and lows of 61°F/16°C. Temperatures start to steadily climb towards the end of the month.
Crowds & Costs
August is the height of high season and as such one of the most popular times to visit Bolivia, thanks to the reliable weather. But with time and inclination, you can easily seek out quieter, less-visited spots to sidestep the crowds. In travel hotspots like La Paz, Sucre, Santa Cruz, and Cobija, things are at their busiest and you might want to consider booking tours and accommodation in advance; the same goes for guided tours in the Andes and Amazon.
Given this month's popularity, deals are hard to come by and prices are at their peak, especially during major festivals like countrywide Independence Day (August 6th). Even at this time of year, however, Bolivia is still a fairly cheap country to visit by South American standards.
Where to Go
The Andes are glorious at this time of year, with morning mists lifting to reveal china-blue skies and plenty of sunshine. Once you’ve acclimatized to the high altitude in La Paz, and have taken in the city’s historic museums, vibrant markets, and pulsing street life, you’ll be itching to head higher into these astonishingly beautiful mountains. And the dry, bright days of August are perfect for striking out on foot into the wilds of the Cordillera Real, where the trails remain largely uncrowded. You’ll find it somewhat busier at big-hitters like the frost-white salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni and stunning Lake Titicaca, one of the world’s highest navigable lakes at 12,500ft (3810m).
August is a terrific time to plan your Amazon odyssey, particularly during the first half of the month when things are a little cooler. Overall, days remain dry and sunny, making the rainforest easier to reach by road and bumping up your chances of glimpsing some of the extraordinary wildlife you’ve no doubt dreamed of seeing (Madidi National Park is a must). Base yourself in the laid-back town of Rurrenabaque or cultured, colonial Trinidad, and hook onto a guided hike or boat tour (provided you’ve booked ahead) deep into the jungle wilds.
Dry, sunny and pleasantly warm conditions make August a fine month for a grand tour of Bolivia’s lesser-explored lowlands (plus you can avoid the majority of the high season crowds here). After a couple of days in Santa Cruz, where you’ll find a tropical vibe, botanical gardens, a clutch of interesting museums and upbeat nightlife, turn your focus elsewhere. It’s just a stone’s throw to the Unesco World Heritage Jesuit missions of Chiquitania, for instance, while further afield you can chill out in lush, mountain-rimmed Samaipata, or clear your head with walks in the high-altitude vineyards of Valle de la Concepción.
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What to Do
Most Andean adventures begin with a spin of La Paz, where weird and wonderful markets, an immense hilltop cathedral, and fascinating museums of art, folklore and ethnography merit a day or two of your time. The city’s culinary star is also rising with the likes of gastronomic temples like Gustu.
The crisp, sunny days of August are ripe for outdoor escapades. Rattle around hairpin bends through the Yungas to Coroico on one of the world’s most dangerous roads if you dare, or book a 4WD adventure across the vast, snow-white salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni and beyond. You’ll find a more low-key atmosphere on the long-distance hiking trails that thread through the more remote Cordillera Central, with their striking scenery of jagged, snow-dusted peaks and jewel-colored lakes. Or for a taste of the Wild West, delve into the deserts and canyons of Tupiza, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid country.
Sure, August is one of the busier times of year to venture into the Bolivian Amazon, but don’t let that put you off—with a little pre-planning you can still secure digs in one of the eco-lodges deep in the jungle, maximizing your chances of wildlife sightings first thing in the morning. And what wildlife!
The incredibly biodiverse Madidi National Park wows with one of South America’s most intact ecosystems, which is best-explored trekking or rafting. Macaws, howler monkeys, spectacled bears, jaguars, sloths, and capybaras all call this verdant wilderness home. Great bases for river tours include the gateways of Rurrenabaque and Trinidad.
Get your culture fix in colonial-meets-contemporary Santa Cruz, taking in the city's intriguing museums of history and sacred art, and enjoying the exciting food scene and fiestas after dark. From here, it’s an easy detour to nearby Chiquitania for a spin of the Jesuit mission circuit, which homes in on the restored churches founded before the Jesuits were expelled in 1767.
Samaipata is the gateway to the mysterious pre-Inca site of El Fuerte, spectacularly perched atop a hill. If you’re into wine in a big way, plan to tour and taste your way around the Valle de la Concepción. Che Guevara pilgrims meanwhile should check out the trails around Vallegrande while the dry, sunny weather lasts.
Independence Day Bolivia pulls out all the stops to celebrate its independence from the Spanish Empire on August 6th, with flag-waving parades, colorful costumes, and parties galore. It’s particularly spectacular in Sucre and Copacabana.
Virgen de Urkupiña Some half a million revelers flock to Quillacollo (Cochabamba department) in mid-August for this massive three-day fest of folk music and dancing, costumed parades, and pilgrimages.
Virgin de Copacabana The virgin of Copacabana is venerated on the shores of Lake Titicaca on August 5th, with folk dancing and parades and much feasting and fiestas.
Traveling to Bolivia in August? Check out these great itineraries
Tupiza to Uyuni: Best Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventure - 7 Days This week-long adventure includes the surreal rock formations of canyon country, the wildlife-rich pink-tinged waters of Laguna Colorada and the iconic salt flats of Salar de Uyuni.
Bolivian Highlands: La Paz, Lake Titicaca, Uyuni, and Eduardo Avaroa - 10 Days Take it vibrant capital city La Paz, the shimmering traditional shores and islands of Lake Titicaca, the breathtaking salt flats of Salar de Uyuni and the geyser and desert landscape of otherworldly Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve.