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A country of great beauty, stunning landscapes, and unique
attractions. A country with the highest capital city in the world, the
largest salt flats in the world, mountains, jungles, lakes, and everything else
Stretching from the majestic icebound peaks and bleak high-altitude deserts of the Andes to the exuberant rainforests and vast savannas of the Amazon basin, Bolivia embraces an astonishing range of landscapes and climates. This mystical terrain boasts scores of breathtaking attractions including stark otherworldly salt pans, ancient Inca trails and towering volcanic peaks. Landlocked at the remote heart of South America, Bolivia rewards the adventurous travelers and encompasses everything that outsiders find most exotic and mysterious about the continent.
Here are the top 11 reasons to travel to Bolivia:
1. La Paz
The highest capital city in the world, sitting at about 13,400 feet (4100 meters), is a great introduction to the diversity of Bolivia. La Paz, a picturesque city set in a valley surrounded by snow-capped peaks, offers anything a traveler could want. This bustling metropolis provides top notch cuisine, from Indian to Middle Eastern to local, accommodations of all shapes, sizes, and prices, a rousing night life, and activities for everyone. Giant markets (even a witch market), crazy traffic, impressive architecture, ornate churches, and the Presidential Palace await you in La Paz. If big, urban cities appeal to you, look no further. There aren’t many major cities in the world where a room can cost $5US and a top notch meal can be had for under $10US, so consider beginning your Bolivian trip here.
2. The most dangerous road in the world
On every adrenalin seeker’s list is to mountain bike 64 km from La Cumbre to Coroico. This path was named Death Road when it was the most dangerous in the world and more than 200 people died each year. While it has since been improved resulting in many less deaths, it is still important to listen to all of the instructions as it can be scary for less experienced drivers to race downhill through the windy mountain road. It begins in a very windy and cold region and eventually ends in the Yungas jungle.
3. A very high country
You’ll Get High!
In terms of altitude, Bolivia is a very high country. For example,
at 11,975 feet, La Paz is the world’s highest de facto capital city. You’ll get
to take part in some of the planet’s highest activities. Visit the world’s
highest navigable lake, Lake Titicaca, at 12,464 feet, relax at the world’s
highest beer spa in La Paz and take a cable car up to the tallest Jesus
statue in the world, Christ de la Concordia, at 112.2 feet tall.
4. An Undiscovered Wine Region
While most travelers are aware of the delicious vinos to be had in Argentina and Chile, Tarija in Bolivia features an undiscovered wine region. Surprisingly enjoyable, what makes these grapes unique is they’re grown around 6,000 feet in elevation. Head to La Valle de la Concepción, or Conception Valley, which features boutique vineyards and bodegas to partake in wine tasting. Don’t expect upscale and precise wine creations like in the more popular places like Napa and Mendoza. Bolivian vino is simpler and less structured, nothing too complex but drinkable and fitting with the country’s seemingly unpretentious, “anything goes” philosophy.
5. The Pampas
If seeing wildlife is your goal, then the Pampas tour is for you. Picture slowly puttering down the river in a dug-out canoe, with literally hundreds of alligators, crocodiles, turtles, monkeys, pink dolphins, capybaras, and an abundant species of birds all around. Envision piranha fishing, swimming with the dolphins, hiking around the jungle in search of the largest snake in the world, the anaconda.
Wake up to the sounds of howler monkeys and the cacophony of jungle sounds. A truly unique place in the world that permits travelers to get up close and personal with a myriad of wildlife, a Pampas tour is something that will be etched in your memory forever.
If you’re fortunate enough to travel around South America and are going to both Peru and Bolivia, Copacabana is a can’t miss destination. Sitting on one side of the highest navigable lake in the world, Lake Titicaca, which straddles the border between Peru and Bolivia, sits the charming and quaint town of Copacabana.
The radiant blue-turquoise lake is what people come to Copacabana for, and options abound for exploring it. Hiking trails along the shore is a great way to see the lake for different perspectives, with white capped mountains in the background. Kayaking or paddle-boating your way around the bay gets travellers up close and personal with the lake.
A boat trip to one of the islands in the middle of the lake is one of the most popular ways to experience Lake Titicaca. And while the town itself doesn’t offer much in the way of entertainment, that’s all right because the lake is the highlight here, and it’s the only entertainment you’ll need.
7. The largest salt flats in the world
Salar de Uyuni is the most photographed site in Bolivia and is what draws many people to the country. An area that seems to be from space, the salt flats are at an altitude of nearly 12,000 ft and nearly 5000 sq miles in area. Photos from these salt flats have Dali-like appearances as there is no horizon perspective in the bright salt landscape. There is no bad time to visit, during the rainy season from November to March a small layer of water creates a gorgeous reflection.
8. There Is A Vibrant Culture
Indigenous culture is visible in Bolivia, and visitors can witness locals in time-honored dress, taste traditional foods and learn about ancient customs. Even in the big cities like La Paz, you’ll see locals dressed in a traditional pollera skirt and bowler hat. Visitors can sample cuisine that has been influenced by the Andes region, with ingredients like corn, potatoes and quinoa, as well as the arrival of the Spaniards, with staples like rice, chicken and pork. Cultural festivals, like the indigenous Carnival in Oruro, Alasitas in La Paz and La Virgen de las Nieves in Italque and Copacabana are still celebrated. You’ll also encounter rituals done for Pachamama, or “Mother Earth,” who provides life, food and safety for the people. For example, when toasting with a drink, locals will usually pour a bit on the floor in honor of Pachamama. Moreover, you can head to the “Witches’ Market” in La Paz and purchase a mummified llama fetus. When locals buy a new home, they offer the item to Pachamama by burying it under the foundation for good luck.
9. Visible History Still Exists Today
Through architecture, storytelling, ruins and colonial towns you’ll be able to learn much about Bolivia’s history. One of the most famous historical cities in Bolivia is Potosi. Founded in 1545, the city held an abundance of silver and was once the wealthiest city in all the Americas. Sadly, Potosi’s isn’t the happiest of stories, as many indigenous people died in the mines working in unimaginable working conditions, which are still visible today. Exploring Potosi, you’ll take in colonial architecture, grand churches, industrial monuments, artificial lakes, a complex aqueduct system and patrician houses. This, combined with the fact it’s such a prime example of a silver mine in modern times, has put Potosi on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
10. The beautiful white city
One of the prettiest cities in South America is Sucre, the constitutional capital of Bolivia. This ‘white city’, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site is celebrated for its Spanish colonial architecture. The Andalusian influence is apparent as the narrow streets that house the immaculately preserved buildings are mapped as a grid.
Many also consider this the most developed city and considered ‘liveable’ for expats and long-term travelers who want to learn Spanish as it has reliable infrastructure.
11. The path of a revolutionary
Ernesto ‘Che”Guevara is undoubtedly one of the most important revolutionary figures in Latin American history. Today his face continues to be prominent on t-shirts for both locals and tourists as it symbolizes the liberation of the working class.
While Che is from Argentina, he was captured by forces in the Bolivian Andes mountains while attempting to liberate Bolivia. He was taken to a small village and shortly thereafter shot. Today many consider this a pilgrimage route and unique travel destination and there have been efforts to help the region develop the area in hopes to help the local economy.
"No other South American Country offers as much variety in climate, geography, culture, and has so few tourists. An undiscovered jewel." ~Tim Warren, Northern CA