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 arrival of summer heralds wetter, slightly warmer days in the Andes, with clouds sometimes sweeping in to obscure the views in the mountains and on Lake Titicaca. Temperatures in La Paz are feeling slightly milder now, ranging from 37-59°F/3-15°C, with approximately 13 days of rain in the month. You can expect around six hours of sunshine a day on average.
November kick starts the rainy season in the Amazon, which is fine if you have a good sense of adventure and don’t mind the odd delay when traveling by road (it’s wise to check conditions ahead). Heavier rains up the chance are of flooding, which can make things pretty muddy. Cobija gives you an indication of the weather in the region. You can anticipate highs of around 90°F/32°C and lows of 70°F/21°C this month, and roughly 15 days of rain. Once the storms have passed, however, there’s still plenty of sunshine: approximately seven hours a day in November.
Bolivia’s lowlands are fairly stable year-round in terms of their climate, with a slight increase in humidity and heat in November. Santa Cruz is roughly representative of the region as a whole. This month, temperatures can rise as high as 88°F/31°C, with lows coming in at a pleasantly warm 68°F/20°C. Conditions here are still largely dry and bright, too, with around eight hours of sunshine daily and seven days of rainfall in the month.
Crowds & Costs
November is low season in Bolivia and visitor numbers take a nosedive as a result. If you’re up for an off-the-beaten-track adventure and don't mind the occasional rain, you’ll reap the benefits of coming during this peaceful time, with deals to be had on tours, activities and accommodation.
Where to Go
A kind of hush falls over much of the Andes in November—as do the clouds when the rains set in. But there is no reason to let this put a dampener on your time here: instead switch your focus to the cultural buzz in cities like La Paz and Sucre, where you’ll find vibrant markets, historic museums, colonial architecture and exciting food and nightlife scenes.
Some of the more remote, higher trails are now more difficult to navigate for hikers as they become muddier after rainfall, but thrilling water-related activities come into their own, with white-water rafting on the Río Coroico. While views are often obscured around Lake Titicaca, the rain creates an incredible optical illusion on the Unesco-listed salt flats of Salar de Uyuni.
As the rains descend in November—becoming increasingly heavy towards the end of the month—tracks often flood then turn to mud in the Amazon basin, but with patience (expect occasional delays) getting here by road is still doable. Many animals also begin to creep back to the safety of their jungle hiding places. But you’ll easily find ecolodge accommodation now and there is something to be said for this magical silent period in the jungle. Basing yourself in Trinidad or Rurrenabaque and exploring the rivers by boat is the way to go.
Though heat and humidity are steadily rising in the lowlands, the rains do not fall as heavily here as in other regions of the country in November. It’s a great month for tapping into the history of the Jesuit missions with a road trip of the Chiquitana, before devoting a day or two to the easy-going street life and intriguing museums of colonial Santa Cruz. In the foothills of the Cordillera Oriental, Samaipata entices with its hippie vibe, trails threading up into cloud forest and waterfalls, and easy access to the must-see Amboró National Park and Pre-Columbian ruins of Fuerte de Samiapata.
What to Do
The fresh November rains are starting to transform the landscape in the Andes, giving the altiplano the lushness it lacked in previous months. Hardcore, multi-day treks at high elevations are now largely ruled out due to the wet conditions, but this is a brilliant month for thrilling watersports as rivers like the Río Coroico begin to swell. It’s a touch milder now at the Salar de Uyuni, still largely accessible by 4WD. You might not get the sapphire blue skies here now, but when the heavy rains come the world’s largest salt flats have an otherworldly beauty, with reflections transforming them into a giant mirror.
The rainforest is starting to live up to its name in November, when showers and thunderstorms are to be expected. But it’s still not as wet as it is going to be in the coming months, so if you plan your trip well you might still be able to get here by road (later the tracks through the Amazon are often too flooded and muddy for this to be an option). This shoulder-season month is great for picking up deals on ecolodges and tours. Trinidad and Rurrenabaque are your best bets for both, offering boat tours deep into the jungle wilds. Just bear in mind that some wildlife goes into hiding during this wetter period.
Bolivia’s savanna is a fantastic region to visit in November, with less rain than elsewhere and still abundant dry, fine weather. Hiking is still possible here, for instance in the sensationally rugged Amboró National Park, where the Andes meet the Amazon. This epic wilderness is home to jaguars, tapirs, monkeys, rare spectacled bears and countless species of bird.
Boho haunt Samaipata is a great base for exploring both this and the compelling pre-Inca site of Fuerte de Samiapata, sitting astride a hill and commanding incredible views of the valley. More culture, you say? Combine a stint in colonial Santa Cruz with a road trip of the nearby Jesuit missions circuit in Chiquitana.
Todos Santos (All Saints' Day) On November 1st, the Bolivians honor their dead with visits to cemeteries to decorate graves with colorful garlands of flowers. A special meal is prepared and a place is reserved for the spirits of deceased family members at the table.
San Andrés (St Andrew's Day) Santa Cruz celebrates the feast day of Andrew the Apostle on November 30th with mass, folk music, and dancing, parades and fireworks.
Traveling to Bolivia in November? Check out these great itineraries
Bolivian Cities, Cloud Forests & Salt Flats- 9 Days On this exciting 9-day adventure you will experience thrilling high-altitude capital La Paz, home to many great museums and markets, as well as a heart-in-mouth mountain bike ride down the famous camino de muerte (road of death), the spellbinding cloud forests of Bolivia's Yungas region and an eye-opening visit to a community of coca farmers.
Bolivian Landscapes, Cultures & Communities - 14 Days This trip packs in so much: vibrant cities like Sucre and Cochabamba, the chilled town of Samiapata and its archaeological intrigue and fascinating protected areas like the caverns and canyons of Torotoro National Park.