Traveling with a dog in Bolivia

traveling with a dog in Bolivia

Do you wonder if traveling with a dog in Bolivia is possible ? I am happy to share my experience 🙂

After a year spent in Colombia with my dog Shark, it is time for us to go back to Europe. Though, we cannot leave South America without visiting a few countries. Peru was the second step of our Latin tour. Now it’s Bolivia’s turn. This country has been attracting me for many years. It just seems to have a glimpse of mystery, something very particular that I cannot even explain. After spending 10 days in Bolivia, I must confess that it left me in awe like few others destinations before. 


I took advantage of my trip to Peru in January 2017 to cross the border from Cusco to Copacabana, Bolivia. My dog Shark traveled in her crate in the hold of the bus by night. This town is located by the famous Titicaca lake, the highest navigable lake in the world, with a surface elevation of 12,507 ft. Luckily enough, we did not get altitude sickness. Copacabana is a quiet town where people are very used to welcome tourists. It is the starting point of boat expeditions to the highlights of Titicaca lake.

We visited the most famous of them, the sacred island called Isla del Sol. In fact, the Incas believed that it is the birthplace of the sun. The truth is that it felt very close to the sky. I could almost touch the clouds by day and the stars by night. There are no vehicles on the island which is inhabited by approximately 800 indigenous families all year long. The best activity one can do is hiking through Isla del Sol and discover the archeological ruins of the Inca civilization.

Accommodation: we spent the night at Hostal Jacha Inti, but it seems that they don’t allow pets anymore. Find a dog friendly accommodation in Isla del Sol on Booking.

Luggage storage : I left my big backpack and Shark’s crate in Hostal Center for $10 during 24h. That’s an excellent solution to travel light while exploring Lake Titicaca. The Hostal is located on Avenida 6 de Agosto, in front of  Plaza Sucre in Copacabana.

Vegan Restaurant in Copacabana : I recommend the restaurant of Hostal Joshua for its delicious and cheap vegan burgers and sandwiches. They are also sold in the street, near the bus agency to La Paz, at the corner of Avenida 6 de Agosto and Avenida 16 de Julio.

Note about pet transport by bus in South America : Just like in France, pets are not allowed to travel in the passengers cabin of tourism buses. In South America, most bus companies refuse to transport pets and little are those who accept them in the hold. If your dog is calm and used to travel in his crate like Shark, you may choose this option. You will need to make sure that there is ventilation in hold is ventilated. also, ask the company if they use to transport pets in the hold. Be careful, if your dog is very anxious or if he is snub-nosed (Bouledogue, Carlin, Boxer, Spaniel, Chow Chow, etc.), DON’T put them in the hold.


After 24 hours on Isla del Sol, we took the boat back to Copacabana, then a bus to La Paz, the capital of Bolivia. The journey lasted 4 hours. As dogs were not allowed with passengers, I negociated with the driver, so he nicely let me and Shark take place on the front seat of the bus, right next to him. Therefore, we enjoyed the most beautiful view the whole way.

When we arrived at San Pedro de Tiquina, I watched one of the most unbelivable shows I have ever seen. We needed to cross the 2,790-feet straight of Tiquina with the bus but there was no bridge. So local people conceived large wooden barges to transport each vehicle, even trucks and buses, from one shore to the other. Passengers, though, had to cross the straight on a motor boat. 

The arrival to La Paz from the snowy mountains of El Alto at 13,000 ft. was quite stunning too. After letting our luggage in a dog friendly hostel, we explored the historical centre of the city on foot. I bought a soft Alpaca wool sweater with typical Andean patterns and a colorful collar for Shark. Another must-do activity in La Paz is the Cholitas wrestling. It is actually a show where traditionally-dressed women fight other wrestlers. A lot of Bolivian families come to watch it on Sundays. Shark enjoyed the show too, even though she barked every time people applauded. 

Accommodation in La Paz :


After this city break, it was time for us to make one of my travel dreams come true : discover the unique landscape of Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt desert at an elevation of 11,995 ft. above sea level. As I obviously didn’t want to put Shark in the hold of a bus during 12 hours, I choose to travel to Uyuni by air. I found a cheap ticket on Easyvoyage and flew the next day with the local airline Amaszonas. The trip to Southern Bolivia lasted less than an hour.

As soon as we landed, we went to the city centre by taxi. We booked a 3-day tour with an off-road 4×4 to explore the Salar and the region of South Lipez until the border with Chile. I have never seen such breathtaking landscapes before. A train cemetery, a salt desert, a rock desert, a giant cactus island, volcanoes, lagoons, geysers, animals like fox, flamingos, vicunas and lamas. It felt very special to be so close to nature and get the chance to admire wild beauty in its purest expression. 

Watching my dog Shark running free through spectacular scenery was amazing. She looked so happy to smell countless new odors, meet new people and share new experiences with me. She proved me once again that her adventurous spirit has no limits.          

Our travel agency in Uyuni : Sunrise – Sol de Mañana (the other passengers must agree to travel with your dog. No extra fee for pets).



To be admitted in Bolivia, dogs and cats must be accompanied by an official health certificate for export of pets, issued by the official entity of country of origin. No fee will be charged at the border, unlike in Peru. Check out the IATA’s website for updated information about pet import regulations for Bolivia.

Our journey in Bolivia will remain among our most cherished memories. We are now heading by bus to Chile, another country we are thrilled to explore. To be continued soon on the blog!

Ready to explore Bolivia wity your dog? Already been there? If you have a question, leave me a comment below.

Photos & contents @ The Tropical Dog 2015-2018

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  • aurelie@travelingaddress says:

    ça avait l’air chouette comme voyage ! C’est sûr qu’après le coffre du bus, Shark devait être contente de se dégourdir les pattes au Salar !! :p

  • Roseanne Mendoza says:

    Hi Aurelie,

    My husband and I are going to La Paz, Bolivia, in a few weeks with our Eurasier dog, Niko. You say that dogs are generally not allowed in public buses, except in the hold in a crate.

    What about taxis? You said you traveled in a taxi with Shark in La Paz. Will most, or at least some, taxi drivers accept a well-behaved, medium-sized service dog?

    We are willing to pay extra for him. He could ride at our feet in the back seat.

    Is there any other form of public transportation that will take a dog?

    We look forward to your reply.

    Roseanne Mendoza

    • Hello Roseanne,

      What a great trip you have planned! Don’t worry about taxis in La Paz. From my experience, 1 out of 3 taxis accepts dogs onboard. I used to ask politely before getting in, saying that my dog is well-behaved and clean. I would put her at my feet or on the seat (I first covered it with my blanket). I didn’t try public buses in La Paz, but from my experience in Colombia, it’s up to the driver to accept or refuse the dog. In my article, I was talking about public buses that goes from one city to another. In that case, dogs are forbidden in the passengers area and need to travel in their crate in the hold. You can always try to negotiate with the driver as I did to go from Copacabana to La Paz 😉

      Safe travels to the 3 of you!

  • ZoeSal says:

    Nice thanks a lot for the tips, but I think I’m gonna put bert inside a dog-house like bag or something where he can be comfortable and also he just love to wander, I’m afraid he won’t behave in my lap or in my side, I’m still trying to train him and also I wish there will be an accessory which can help me prevent this kind of behavior or to be lost cause I’m afraid he will be too much energetic.

  • Bruno Maiorana says:

    Nice! We also tried that vegan food, loved his falafels and got a few to take away.

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