In Bolivia, there are different types of climate depending on area and altitude. In plains and lowlands, the climate is equatorial in the far north and tropical in the center-south, while in the plateau and the Andean mountain peaks, it's colder and generally quite arid.
Bolivia lies in the Southern Hemisphere, albeit at tropical latitudes, so its seasons are reversed in comparison with the Northern Hemisphere.

Contents


The forest



Areas with an equatorial climate
The northernmost area of Bolivia (see the Pando department and the northern parts of Beni and La Paz departments) is covered by rainforests, and has a nearly equatorial climate. In fact, it is hot and humid all year round, with little variation in temperature, just a few of degrees, from 23/24 °C (73/75 °F) in the coldest months to 27 °C (81 °F) in the warmest months. In addition, there is abundant rainfall, higher than 1,500 millimeters (60 inches) per year, and a short dry season from June to August, when less than 50 mm (2 in) of rain fall per month. The rains are most abundant from November to March.
Here is the average precipitation in Cobija, in the far north, near the border with Brazil.
Cobija - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)265250235185802525451001652201551850
Prec.(in)10.49.89.37.33.1111.83.96.58.76.172.8
Days1917181384357121518139

The best time to visit this area runs from June to mid-August, which is not only the driest, but also the least hot: it's hot in the daytime, around 30/32 °C (86/90 °F), but at night, the temperature usually drops slightly below 20 °C (68 °F), in addition, moisture is a bit lower, so the heat is more bearable. However, from mid-August to mid-October, before the rainy season, the temperature increases and the hottest time of the year occurs.
Here are the average temperatures in Cobija.
Cobija - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)222121201817161719212121
Max (°C)313131312930313334323131
Min (°F)727070686463616366707070
Max (°F)888888888486889193908888

In Cobija, the sun frequently shines in the dry season, but it shines quite often even in the rainy season, since the rains occur in the form of showers or thunderstorms and do not last long. Here are the average sunshine hours per day.
Cobija - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours666777887776

The savanna



Climate of the savanna - Chaco

Gran Chaco

In the rest of the plains and lowlands of Bolivia, we find the Gran Chaco, a region which also includes southwestern Mato Grosso in Brazil, western Paraguay and northern Argentina. Here, the climate is tropical, with a dry season in winter and a wet season in summer, and the vegetation is savannah-type. During winter, the temperature drops by a few degrees, especially in the center and south: the average temperature in June and July is 23 °C (73 °F) in Trinidad, 20 °C (68 °F) in Puerto Suarez, and it drops to 16/17 °C in the extreme south, also because of the altitude, which in this area is higher, around 600/700 meters (2,000/2,300 feet) on average. As typically happens in the tropics, this area is hottest in spring, before the rainy season; in fact, heat spikes, from 37 to 40 °C (99 to 104 °F), are recorded from September to November. Summer is sultry, so the heat in this season is still uncomfortable.
Rainfall is more abundant in the western part, near the eastern range (Cordillera Oriental) of the Andes: along the northeast-facing slopes at the foot of the Andes, there is no real dry season because even in winter some showers are possible (see San Buena Ventura).

Santa Cruz de la Sierra

In Santa Cruz de la Sierra, located in the central part, at 400 meters (1,300 feet) above sea level, temperatures are high for most of the year, but they drop by a few degrees from May to mid-August. Here are the average temperatures.
Santa Cruz - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)212120191615151619202021
Max (°C)303030282523242829303131
Min (°F)707068666159596166686870
Max (°F)868686827773758284868888

In Santa Cruz, rainfall amounts to 1,300 mm (50 in) per year. Here is the average precipitation.
Santa Cruz - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)20013012011090706040701001201701280
Prec.(in)7.95.14.74.33.52.82.41.62.83.94.76.750.4
Days12910877535671291

In Santa Cruz, the sun frequently shines all year round, with a peak in August, that is, in the driest month and at the end of winter.
Santa Cruz - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours777877798887

In the southern part, south of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the climate is more arid: the annual rainfall is lower than 1,000 mm (40 in) per year, in addition, the dry season is longer, since it goes from May to September (instead of June to August, as happens in the north-central). In this southern area, which is further away from the Equator, thermal variations also increase: from September to November, the temperature can reach 40 °C (104 °F), while between May and August, at night, it can drop to as low as the freezing point (0 °C or 32 °F).
In fact, during winter, from May to August, the central and southern part of the region are affected by sudden drops in temperature due to cold winds blowing from the Argentinian Pampas, called Surazos. In Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the night temperature may fall between 5 °C and 10 °C (41 °F and 50 °F), but sometimes even below 5 °C (41 °F), especially in June and July. In the south, night minima can drop at times to as low as a few degrees below freezing. These cold winter outbreaks are short, but they are significant for the latitude (we are still north of the Tropic of Capricorn).

The Andes



Climate of the Andes in Bolivia
The Andean area is delimited by two cordilleras, between which there is a plateau where you will find the two capitals and other major cities of Bolivia. The western cordillera is much drier than the eastern one. The plateau is fairly dry, and in the south-west, near the border with Chile, it is even desert. In the Andean region, there are high mountains, such as Sajama volcano, 6,542 meters (21,463 feet) high, Janq'u Uma, 6,427 meters (21,086 ft), Nevado Illampu, 6,368 meters (20,892 ft), and Illimani, 6,402 meters (21,004 ft).
Winter in the high mountains is dry, however, in winter and early spring, short snowfalls are possible above 4,000 meters (13,000 ft). Owing to the scarcity of snowfall in the coldest season, the snowline is very high, above 5,000 meters (16,400 ft).
In general, in the plateau, the diurnal temperature range is high, and after the sunset, the air cools quickly. Being that the air is dry, the cold is more bearable, except when the wind blows.

Cable car La Paz - El Alto

La Paz

The capital La Paz is the highest capital in the world: it is located at an average altitude of 3,600 meters (11,800 ft), but the various districts are located at an altitude between 3,200 and 4,200 meters (10,500 and 13,800 ft), so there are different temperatures from area to area.
The airport is located in the highest area (El Alto), at 4,050 meters (13,300 ft) above sea level. In this part of the city, the climate is cold all year round: the average daily temperature ranges from a low of 5 °C (41 °F) in June and July to a high of 9 °C (48 °F) in November (which is, albeit slightly, the warmest month because rain and clouds are able to lower the summer temperature a little). At the airport, night temperatures easily drop below freezing in the coldest months, from May to September, with peaks of -10 °C (14 °F), while during the day, the temperature becomes fairly mild, from 12 °C to 15 °C (54 °F to 59 °F). Sometimes it can even snow, as happened on July 4, 2015, more significantly in the upper part of La Paz, as well as in other cities placed at very high altitudes such as Oruro. In the summer months, the night temperature rises by a few degrees.
Here are the average temperatures recorded at the airport.
La Paz - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)33320-2-2-10233
Max (°C)121313131312121313141514
Min (°F)373737363228283032363737
Max (°F)545555555554545555575957

Total annual rainfall is around 560 mm (22 in), but since the average temperature is never warm enough for trees to grow, the vegetation is tundra, like in sub-polar areas. The rains mostly fall from September to April, with a peak from December to March, when they are more frequent (up to 20 days per month) and can sometimes be abundant, causing floods and landslides. Here is the average precipitation.
La Paz - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)120100703010551030405090560
Prec.(in)4.73.92.81.20.40.20.20.41.21.623.522
Days2217161032247111317124

The sun frequently shines from May to August, while it shines more rarely in the rainy season, when there can be morning mists as well.
La Paz - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours655689987666

At lower elevations, in the central area of the city, which is located at 3,650 meters (11,975 feet), the temperature is higher by a few degrees, and that's something, since during the day it reaches 14 °C (57 °F) in winter and 15/17 °C (59/63 °F) in November and in the summer months. In the lowest neighbourhoods, situated just above 3,000 meters (10,000 ft) of altitude, the temperature rises to 17/19 °C (63/66 °F), and winter frosts, when they occur, are light.
Here are the average temperatures of the low part of the city, at 3,250 meters (10,650 ft) above sea level.
Lower La Paz - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)666431123466
Max (°C)171718181817171718191918
Min (°F)434343393734343637394343
Max (°F)636364646463636364666664

The best time to visit La Paz is from May to August, since it is the driest and sunniest, although it is also the coldest.

Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca

West of La Paz, at no great distance from the city, we find Lake Titicaca, which is located at 3,800 meters (12,500 ft) above sea level and is the highest navigable lake in the world. To the south, we find the archeological site of Tiwanaku, located at the same altitude. In this area, the climate is similar to that of the highest part of La Paz, but there is often a higher temperature range; in fact, while during the day the air is mild, the temperature rapidly falls after sunset, especially in winter, when at night, it drops below freezing.
Here are the average temperatures of Tiahuanaco (or Tiwanaku).
Tiwanaku - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)4441-2-5-5-40134
Max (°C)161515151414131415171816
Min (°F)393939342823232532343739
Max (°F)615959595757555759636461

Sucre

The other capital, Sucre, is located further south, at an altitude of 2,800 meters (9,200 ft). Here, compared with La Paz, the temperatures are higher, and they are spring-like all year round, but at night, it is often cold in winter, since lows hover around 5/6 °C (41/43 °F) in the June-August period and around 11 °C (52 °F) from November to March, while the daytime temperatures hover around 22/24 °C (72/75 °F) throughout the year. Here are the average temperatures.
Sucre - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)111110975568101111
Max (°C)222222222222222324242423
Min (°F)525250484541414346505252
Max (°F)727272727272727375757573

In an average year, 680 mm (26.5 in) of rain fall. Summer is the rainiest season here as well; consequently, the best time is winter, from May to August. Here is the average precipitation.
Sucre - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)1551151053062212255065120680
Prec.(in)6.14.54.11.20.20.10.10.5122.64.726.8
Days1613116211248101488

In Sucre too, the amount of sunshine is better in the dry winter season than in the rainy summer season.
Sucre - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours567788898776

Cochabamba

In Cochabamba, located at 2,500 meters (8,200 ft) above sea level, the temperatures are slightly higher. Here, daytime temperatures are between 23 °C and 26 °C (73 °F and 79 °F) throughout the year, but the diurnal temperature range is high, so, nights are cold from May to August.
Cochabamba - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)1312121063369111213
Max (°C)232323252423232425262625
Min (°F)555454504337374348525455
Max (°F)737373777573737577797977

In Cochabamba, rainfall amounts to only 550 mm (21.5 in) per year, and the dry season is very long; the rains are substantial only from December to March. Here is the average rainfall.
Cochabamba - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)1351108025624813254595547
Prec.(in)5.34.33.110.20.10.20.30.511.83.721.5
Days171513521125691490

In Cochabamba too, the sun shines more often in the dry season than in the rainy season.
Cochabamba - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours566788898766

Salar de Uyuni

As mentioned, in the southwest, near the border with Chile, the plateau is definitely desert. Here, we find Salar de Uyuni, a huge expanse of salt, located at 3,650 meters (12,000 feet) of altitude, where the tropical mountain sun, already strong, increases its effects because of its reflection on the white surface: it's better to bring sunglasses and sunscreen. Being arid, this area doesn't cause particular problems as regards to the weather, though it's preferable in summer, that is, when the temperature is higher.
Here are the average temperatures of Uyuni, located at 3,650 meters (12,000 feet) above sea level; as you can see, from May to September, the temperature falls at night, and normally drops below freezing. Here, just 145 mm (5.5 in) of rain fall per year, concentrated from November to March.
Uyuni - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)4431-3-6-6-5-2124
Max (°C)171616171514131516171817
Min (°F)393937342721212328343639
Max (°F)636161635957555961636463

Best Time



The best time to visit Bolivia in its entirety runs from June to mid-August: even though it's the coldest period at high altitudes, it's also the least hot at low altitudes, and above all, it's the driest and sunniest throughout the country.

What to pack



In winter (June to August): in the forest, bring lightweight clothing of natural fibers, maybe with long sleeves for mosquitoes, and a sweatshirt for the evening. In the savannah, light clothing, a sweatshirt or sweater and a jacket for the evening, especially in the south. In the Andes (see La Paz, Lake Titicaca), bring clothes for spring and autumn for the day and warm clothes for the evening such as a warm jacket and a warm windproof hat; sunglasses and sunscreen. In high mountains, warm clothes, such as a down jacket, a scarf, gloves, and hiking boots.

In summer (December to February): in the forest and the savannah, bring lightweight clothing, a sun hat, and possibly a light sweatshirt and a light raincoat for thunderstorms. In the Andes (La Paz, Lake Titicaca), clothes for spring and autumn, a raincoat or umbrella, a jacket, a sweater, sunglasses and sunscreen. In high mountains, warm clothes, such as a down jacket, a scarf, gloves, and hiking boots.