Guide to Bolivia

Filed under : Camping, Hotels, Travel Tips

Bolivia is becoming more and more popular as a travel destination but can still be considered off-the-beaten track when compared to many of its South American neighbors. This element however is what makes (it ~ Bolivia } so appealing and its stunning natural wonders give the perfect backdrop for the intrepid traveler.

If you’re entering the country overland then chances are you are coming over the Peruvian border by Lake Titicaca. If so, the lake itself is certainly a popular sight, and worth spending a couple of days exploring. For those with a little extra time spending a night on one of the islands, such as Isla del Sol, is also well worth it and is an ( short ~ easy } boat trip from Copacabana. Lake Titicaca is a significant place for many of the indigenous people and is covered in fascinating folklore and superstitions.

Moving on from Copacabana the next major place of interest is a few hours south in the capital la Paz. If you haven’t been traveling overland and are flying into La Paz then be prepared for the altitude and don’t plan anything that strenuous for the first couple of days while you acclimatize. La Paz is the highest capital city in the world and even the lower central area is well over 3,500 metres which means the shortest walk leaving you breathless. Once you are acclimatized to the altitude however, La Paz has a great vibe and its enjoyable just to walk around and check out some of the markets. The witch’s market is one of the most famous and sells controversial products such as dried llama foetus and dried scorpions. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city an excursion that is one of the highlights for the more adventurous visitor is the mountain biking down the death road Bolivia!

Other cities to check out include Potosi, Sucre, Oruro and Santa Cruz. Potosi is famous for its silver mines, which once made it one of the most prized cities in the Spanish empire, and some of the city’s colonial architecture is impressive. However as with much of Bolivia, Potosi sits at a dizzying altitude of over 4,000m. Sucre, like Potosi, is in the southern region of the country and has even more impressive colonial architecture. Oruro was another mining town in the south but is now better known for its annual carnival which somehow mixes Catholic beliefs with folkloric devil dances! This sums up a lot of Bolivian culture, where their indigenous beliefs and superstitions shine through the Spanish / Catholic influences.

A lasting memory of Bolivia for many travelers will typically be the countries stunning natural beauty. It is a perfect place to make a trip into the Amazon Rainforest and see the abundant wildlife and tribes in that region. However the world’s largest salt flats are arguably the countries most breathtaking sight with a choice of of excursions available from the small town of Salar de Uyuni in the south of the country. Here the endless expanse of white salt, occasionally interrupted by strange formations such as an island of cacti, make you feel you’re on a different planet. A typically Bolivian traveler’s route will go from Lake Titicaca in the north to these salt flats in the south (this is also often done in reverse). Afterwards many people end their salt flat excursion by crossing the border into Chile where the Atacama desert awaits.  

Getting around in Bolivia can be frustrating as well as very rewarding. In a continent where being late is expected, the Bolivians seem to take this to a whole different level. As a result getting around can eat up time, very few buses run on time and most of the country’s roads aren’t paved, which can add further delays. The advice is to take it in your stride and don’t try to cram too much into your itinerary or it might end up frustrating you.

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