Bolivia is one of the most beautiful countries of South America. It will conquer your soul and touch your heart. It's such a travel friendly country and it's people are my favorites. The thing I loved was the wonderful combination of traditional and modern life.
Everything in this country is "the highest in the world". Lake Titicaca, the capital La Paz, the silver mines of Potosi. If you arrive by plane you'll have to take it easy the first few days when you travel in Bolivia as your body is adjusting to the high altitudes. Once you're ready, Bolivia will embrace you with open arms.
The capital of Bolivia,La Paz, lies on an altitude of 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) and is the highest capital of the world. If you arrive by bus the driver will stop at a point where you can see the city in the valley below. The snow-capped Illimany mountain in the horizon makes for an impressive sight. La Paz is a very pleasant city that displays a kaleidoscope of traditional and modern life. If you start your tour in La Paz then take it easy for the first days. Your body needs to acclimatize to the high altitude.
La Paz - Bolivia
Check out some of these wonderful La Paz budget hotels
and amazing hotels in La Paz!
Plaza Murillo in the city center is just paradise for "people-watching". Really a lot of fun. A "must do" is the Witches Market (Mercado de las Brujas) where everything from a lost love to a lost job is solved with some magical potions or tarot cards. If you're interested in indigenous handicraft than La Paz is the place to be. Various markets offer handicraft of excellent quality for an unbeatable price.
A visit to the Gold Museum or the Musical Instrument Museum can be done if you want to escape the busy streets.
The site of Tiwanaku was founded about 200 BCE, as a small village, and it grew to urban proportions between 300 CE and 500 CE, becoming an important regional power in the Southern Andes, but collapsed suddenly around 950 CE.
It is characterized by large stones, weighing up to 100 tons, and cutting, squaring, dressing, and notching exceeding even the Inca in artisanship. At its maximum extent, the city covered approximately 6 square kilometers, and had as many as 40,000 inhabitants.
is the highest navigable lake in the world (3,800 meters (12,500 feet) above sea level), is the most spiritual lake I have ever experienced. It's impossible to describe the beauty of Lake Titicaca, which Bolivia shares with Peru.
The Peruvian side hosts the floating islands, the Bolivian side has the honor of having the Island of the Sun, where, according to legend, the Inca empire arose. I've spend the night on the Island of the Sun and had the most spectacular starry night I've ever seen. A highlight when you travel in Bolivia. My picture above is taken on the Island of the Sun.
Salar de Uyuni
The big secret of Bolivia is without doubt the Salar de Uyuni, the worlds largest salt flat, a dried up salt lake with islands (click on photo collage for pictures). It's the largest in the world, a staggering 10,500 km2 (4,045 miles2) (that is one third of the surface of Belgium). The salt flat consists of 11 layers with thickness' that vary in between 2 and 10 meters (6 and 33 feet), the crust that is found on the surface has a thickness of 10 meters (33 feet).
Your senses will be provoked mercilessly. I can highly recommend the tours available in Uyuni when you travel in Bolivia. They take you on the salar and into the desert all the way to the border of Chile. On the trip you see, besides the salar, the green and the red lake, geysers, Isla Pescada (Fish Island) and hot spring baths. You're accompanied of a gorgeous never ceasing tranquility.
While you're in the Uyuni area, go to Potosí (the highest city of the world) and visit the silver mines. The guides will advice you to buy coca leafs. In my case it got me over my dizziness when I entered the mine shaft (remember that you're at 4,000 meters (13,120 feet). I just chewed on a coca leaf and my head cleared up immediately.
The mines will leave a big impression as working conditions are really abominable. In the center of the mines there is a "devil" statue adorned with coca leafs. The statue is for good luck and prosperity.
Want to see "the devil statue"? Just click on the picture.
Crocodiles, piranhas, anacondas, and my favorites, capybaras (say again?) and thousands of tropical birds were my companions.
I also traveled for one week on a river boat (the only "gringo" on board) all the way to the border of Brazil. An unforgettable Bolivia travel adventure. You can read and see pictures of my river boat trip in the Amazon basin.
Note: Be aware that Bolivia hosts some narrow mountain roads. My nerves were being tested to their limits when I traveled to Sorata, a must see town in an astonishing valley. Inform about road conditions either going to Rurrenabaque (Amazon Basin) or Sorata. You can get stuck in the rain season as roads get inundated.
For detailed information on Bolivia please consult the excellent Wikipedia article of Bolivia.
Che Guevara in Bolivia?
The image of revolutionary Che Guevara, born in Rosario, Argentina, has spread throughout the world. I'm still amazed to see teenagers wander around with T-Shirts displaying Ernesto Guevara as the symbol of 'La Revolución'.
Che left Argentina and became legendary in Cuba. After many years of fighting to "liberate" Latin America, a dream that still a nightmare for many in Cuba, he died in... Bolivia
The movie 'Che' by director Steven Soderbergh is a biopic of Che Guevara. The movie consists of two parts. Part 1 depicts how Che Guevara joined Fidel Castro's 26 de Julio movement and his rise to power. Part 2 takes us to Bolivia where Che tries to launch a revolution to 'liberate' Bolivia. Actor Benicio Del Toro gives a breathtaking performance of Che Guevara.
Must See Boliva Travel Places
|La Paz||Lake Titicaca||Salar de Uyuni|
Read about the traditional music of Bolivia:
© All photographs by Mark Van Overmeire