Bolivia, like many South American countries, is divided into several geographical zones, each of which has their 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.
One of the world’s highest cities at 11,942ft (3,640m) above sea level, La Paz has a climate that is broadly representative of the Andes in general. Spring is here and it is feeling a tad warmer than during the winter months, with temperatures nudging highs of 57°F/14°C and dipping as low as 32°F/-0°C in October.
The dry season is coming to an end, however, with 11 days of rain in the month, so come prepared for showers. The higher you head into these mountains, the colder you can expect it to be and the more layers you’ll need (especially at night). There’s still plenty of dry, bright weather around Lake Titicaca and the Salar de Uyuni, with highs of 63°F/17°C and lows of 34°F/1°C.
October is shoulder season in the Bolivian Amazon, which brings with it lots of heat (highs reach up to 90°F/32°C in Cobija), a spike in humidity and an increase in rain—there are on average 12 wet days in the month as opposed to just seven in September. That said, the thunderstorms and showers often pass quite quickly and give way to sunshine.
Spring brings hotter weather to the savanna in Bolivia. Santa Cruz gives you a good idea of what the weather is like throughout this lowland region. In October, you can expect temperatures to soar as high as 86°F/30°C. Lows come in at a pleasantly warm 68°F/20°C. The rains are still largely holding off, with just six days of precipitation on average and plenty of sunshine (around eight hours a day).
Crowds & Costs
October marks the start of spring proper. If you choose your destinations and activities wisely, it’s a fine time to visit: rains are slowly increasing but have yet to reach their peak, and there is still abundant dry, sunny weather that makes outdoor activities in the Andes and forays into the jungle doable. The country takes a deep breath after the winter rush, bringing with it a quieter, more laid-back vibe. And if you come now, you can be guaranteed better deals on tours, activities and accommodation than during the peak season months of winter.
Where to Go
Bright, cool weather and fewer crowds than during peak season months make October a fine month to explore the Andes. Get a quick culture fix in La Paz before you venture across the altiplano and into the mountains. Heading west towards the Peruvian border brings you to spellbinding Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake, with October being one of the last months for reliable lake sailing before the summer rains arrive in earnest. Swinging south, Cochabamba has a real backpacker buzz with its food and bar scene, and it’s a great springboard for delving into the rugged wilds of Torotoro National Park, with its canyons, caves, dinosaur footprints and fossils.
It’s the tail end of the dry season in the Amazon, so the earlier you come in the month the better chance you stand of getting here by road and seeing plenty of wildlife. If you’re lucky, you’ll be rewarded with sunny days and just the odd shower or two. With hammocks swinging in ecolodges, jungle and pampas tours, the nicely chilled gateway of Rurrenabaque is a great stepping stone for reaching the immense wilderness of the Madidi National Park, one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. Or up the adventure instead in Trinidad on a boat tour along the Río Mamoré.
October is pretty quiet in the Bolivian lowlands, yet it still sees plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures. Kick-off with a little culture in Santa Cruz, then allow ample time for a road trip of the fascinating Jesuit missions of nearby Chiquitania, a remarkable mix of European and indigenous heritage. Sidling up to the border with Argentina, the appealingly low-key city of Tarija has the Valle de la Concepción right on its doorstep, home to some of the world's highest (and therefore arguably most spectacular) vineyards.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
You'll probably begin in mountain-flanked La Paz, getting used to the thin air at high elevation and perhaps taking a romp around the potion-mad Mercado de las Brujas (Witches' Market). Star chefs are now creating culinary magic for the city's rising gastro scene.
October is overall still dry enough for most activities, with the major rains holding off for another month or two. Come now and you might just pick up a bargain on boat tours across Lake Titicaca, where you can walk in wonder amongst Inca ruins, or 4WD tours across the immense, frost-white salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni. Or for off-the-radar hikes in a colorful canyon wilderness, strike out into Torotoro National Park from Cochabamba.
The first spring rains give the rainforest a new green luster and freshness, but the wet season is still a way off yet, which is great news if you've come for the wildlife. As things have quietened down a little in terms of visitor numbers, October is a brilliant month to snag a bargain when it comes to ecolodges and jungle tours. Relaxed Rurrenabaque is thrillingly close to the vast and magnificent Madidi National Park. Alternatively, Trinidad further east is an appealing colonial city, with boats taking you lazily along the Río Mamoré, where you might spy macaws in the canopy and pink dolphins in the river.
A one-of-a-kind mix of tropical climate and colonial heritage, Santa Cruz is an enticing gateway to the region. Spend a day or two here taking in its plaza life, botanical gardens, and museums of regional history and sacred art. Afterward, you could take spin of the Unesco World Heritage Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitania. Wine tours and tastings abound in the high vineyards of Valle de la Concepción, and off-the-beaten-track hikes to forgotten Inca sites make an exploration of the surrounding hills well worth the effort.
Virgen del Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary) On the first week of the month, this holy festival brings religious processions, music, dancing and fireworks to towns and cities across the country.
Feria del Charango In late October, Aiquile, a four-hour journey east of Cochabamba, goes crazy for the strumming of the charango (a kind of Andean guitar) at this vibrant music festival.
Traveling to Bolivia in October? Check out these great itineraries
Explore the Andes and Amazon Rainforest - 10 Days On this one, get ready to transition from the world's highest capital, La Paz, down into the lush, humid, wildlife-rich and compelling rainforest on this 10-day adventure, with time too to explore mesmeric Lake Titicaca.
Bolivian Cities, Cloud Forests & Salt Flats- 9 Days Head from the world's highest capital city, dynamic La Paz, to the otherworldly Salar de Uyuni salt flats, with a heart-in-mouth mountain bike ride down the camino de muerte (road of death)and time in the spellbinding cloud forests of Bolivia's Yungas region.