When it comes to South American travel destinations, you’re probably already aware of the stunning beaches of Brazil or the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu – but what about Bolivia? This South American country offers an incredible wealth of cultural attractions and natural beauty. Here are some of the reasons why you should consider travelling to Bolivia on your next trip.
1) The Incredible and Diverse Landscapes
In the south of the country you will find “Wild West” scenery, including rugged canyons and dry winding dirt roads. The Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world, is a mind-blowing expanse of pure white in every direction as far as the eye can see. In the surrounding desert you will see all types of bizarre dream-like scenery including red and green lakes filled with pink flamingos, surreal rock formations, enormous geysers, smoking hot springs and an abandoned train graveyard.
In the north you will find the sweltering hot jungle where monkeys leap between the treetops. Venture into the Bolivian Amazon and you will be blown away by the ecological diversity. Perhaps you might even catch a glimpse of jaguars, pumas, macaws, monkeys and pink river dolphins.
There are so many different landscapes to explore in Bolivia, so make sure that you allow yourself enough time to visit several different regions of the country. It’s one of the smaller countries in South America but it is still larger than you might think.
2) The Warm and Friendly Locals
The local Bolivian people are wonderfully welcoming and will make you feel right at home. Although poverty is widespread here the locals will greet you with gracious hospitality and will be eager to share the beauty of their country.
If you speak a bit of Spanish it helps, as many Bolivians don’t speak English. Take a few lessons before you go or teach yourself a few simple phrases – it will make a big difference! Or, you could consider learning Spanish in Bolivia. One of the most popular places for taking lessons is the picturesque historic UNESCO World Heritage city of Sucre, which has many Spanish schools offering very affordable lessons with local instructors.
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3) The Thrilling Outdoor Activities
If you are an adrenaline junky there are plenty of fun activities that will get your heart pounding. For example, Bolivia is home to the famous Death Road, which is a harrowing mountain biking challenge that will take you down narrow winding roads clinging to the face of a mountain. There are organised Death Road tours that will allow you to bike this famous 43 mile route safely so that you can enjoy the thrill and admire the stunning views.
Some of the other thrilling adventure activities that you can enjoy in Bolivia include spotting jaguars in Kaa Iya National Park, trekking Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca, climbing Huayna Potosi, touring the silver mines in the old mining town of Potosi or exploring the wilds of the Bolivian Amazon.
4) The Rich Culture
Indigenous culture is alive and well in Bolivia and when you visit you can see a lot of the clothing and traditions. Even in the capital city of La Paz you will see locals dressed in traditional bowler hats and pollera skirts. There are over 36 different indigenous cultures each with their own traditions and languages.
There are plenty of cultural festivals throughout the year, including the Alasitas in La Paz, the Carnaval in Oruro and the La Virgen de las Nieves in Italque. These festivals are bright and colourful traditions that are an unforgettable experience for the visitor.
5) The Delicious Food
Bolivian food is more than just simple rice and beans. It is a combination of Spanish influences and indigenous ingredients and many dishes include eggs, corn, meat and potatoes. Quinoa is also commonly used to make salads, stews and soups, which is a grain that has been named a “superfood” in the Western world.
Sampling the best of local Bolivian food doesn’t have to be expensive. One of the best ways to enjoy an authentic dish is to eat at one of the central mercados where the locals eat. A delicious and filling meal can be enjoyed for as little as $1.
6) The Colourful Markets
Another one of the pleasures of travelling in Bolivia is the vibrant local markets. This old fashioned tradition of having an open air market has stayed alive because of the large indigenous population in Bolivia. These markets serve as a central gathering place in the city and they are where locals continue to congregate.
Most of the major cities in Bolivia will have a local market and some will be huge, such as La Cancha in Cochabamba. The markets are a great place to find fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables, meat, spices, clothing, jewellery, handicrafts and much more. Most of the time buying your food from the market will be better quality and cheaper than shopping at the supermarket.
7) The Historic Sites
If you are interested in history you will be fascinated by the number of historical spots that can be discovered in Bolivia. This landlocked country has been continuously occupied for over 2000 years and there have been many wars, conquests, revolutions and protests. During your visit to Bolivia make sure that you visit some of the museums and ruins to learn more about the country’s history.
For example, check out the impressive pre-Columbian archaeological site of Tiwanaku to learn more about one of the most important civilisations prior to the Inca Empire. It is one of the oldest and highest altitude cites ever built.
These are just a few of the reasons why your next trip should be to beautiful Bolivia. This South American country has a lot to offer the visitor, from culture to cuisine to adrenaline activities to stunning landscape and so much more. Why not start planning your Bolivian adventure?