Big cities in developing countries are not without their challenges and Bolivia is no exception. Crowded, noisy, chaotic and full of snarling traffic, the downtown areas of cities like La Paz are tiresome for the traveling introvert. Once the main sights have been ticked off, make a beeline for one of Bolivia’s chilled out little pueblos (towns) instead. A number of stellar options are scattered throughout the country, offering a relaxed pace of life with stunning natural surroundings and far fewer gringos. Our favorites include Coroico, Sorata, Tupiza, Samaipata and Torotoro.
Bolivia offers some of the most pristine wilderness on Earth, the perfect opportunity to get outside of the city and escape from it all. While solo hiking long distances in remote regions is not recommended for safety reasons, there are plenty of places that can be explored without having to join a big group. The Takesi and El Choro treks near La Paz can be done without a group, Isla del Sol is ideal for the solo hiker and a myriad of pleasant day trips around the aforementioned small towns can easily be tackled alone.
La Paz is notorious for its massive party hostels which fill hundreds of beds with alcohol-crazed backpackers in what is pretty much the introvert’s worst nightmare. Give those a miss and opt for one of the smaller Bolivian run places which offer budget private rooms in a more quiet, relaxed atmosphere. Known locally as hostales, residenciales or alojamientos, the cheaper ones can be a little run down so always check the rooms carefully before committing. Those with the financial means should consider one of the country’s many fine boutique hotels.
Bolivia has a number of fine museums which offer a great respite from the crowds. What they lack in fancy digital displays and state of the art exhibitions, they make up for in interesting local content and a distinct Bolivian flair. Whether your interests lie in pre-Colombian jewelry, the sacred coca leaf or traditional indigenous weaving, there are plenty of awesome museums to keep an introvert informed and entertained in Bolivia.
While professional guides can offer some interesting local insights, tour groups are often packed with overly chatty foreigners who are bothersome to the introverted traveler. Thankfully, many of Bolivia’s attractions can be visited solo. Just be sure to thoroughly research each destination to be certain that going alone is safe and that all contingencies have been accounted for.
If escaping hordes of tourists is a priority, then traveling outside the high season is a must. During the northern hemisphere summer months of June through August, an army of excitable Americans and Europeans descend on Bolivia. The months of May and September through November are a better option, typically with very little rainfall and far fewer tourists. The rainy season from December to April is an option too, although some of the more outdoorsy activities are off limits.
Introverts like a drink too, right? Bear in mind that Bolivian discotecas are notoriously loud and crowded, while those catering to the party-loving backpacker crowd are even worse. Thankfully, there are plenty of more relaxed places to grab a beer without having to scream into the ear of the person next to you. La Paz, in particular, has lots of cool options.