Volcanoes, salt-flats, deserts, flamingos, and plurinational charm are merely some of the enticing reasons to visit Bolivia. Our Travel Expert Mark Novak shares his recent experience exploring this beautiful country with Intrepid Travel and why you need to experience it for yourself.
One of the most isolated countries I have ever been to; a land of magnificent snow-capped mountains, 5000m plateaus, and Amazonian jungle; Bolivia possesses a magic which drew me in and mystified me.
Travellers come to experience the dozens of traditional South American cultures in an expansive Mars-like landscape where little rain falls and the ground yields precious few crops. Most of the people live on these high plateaus, eking out a simple existence, but retain an incredible warmth toward travellers.
Bolivia has the world`s highest capital in La Paz, but despite its dizzying reputation for high altitude, almost three-quarters of the country lies in lowland jungles of the Amazon basin.
Bolivia does have its problems, which can be seen almost anywhere you go, but what place in the world doesn’t? I found travel here to be exceptionally rewarding and not as difficult as it might seem. The bus network connecting major cities that I travelled on are well-developed, and the internal air service is comfortable and affordable.
La Paz is a riot of coloured buildings run amok in a magnificent valley ringed by snow-capped peaks at 3600 meters. The city is slowly turning away from its colonial heritage as money and progress push into the country.
The high flat plane of the Salar de Uyuni is best explored with tour companies like Intrepid Travel, providing many multi-day excursions out of La Paz. The perspective warping of sight in the Salt Flats, whether in the blinding white of high noon or the deep purples of sunset, was certainly the highlight of the trip for everyone in the group. The need for fearlessness and courage in the face of such arid oxygen deprived desolation is the hallmark of a trip to Bolivia.
From the Salt Flats South, you observe the life of the desert, with Llama and Vicunyas eating I can’t even imagine what. The Volcanic region towards Laguna Colorada including various species of flamingos, squawking and chirping and dancing is followed by bubbling pots of mud, steaming geysers and sulphuric pungency. Then onwards to the near border with Chilé at Laguna Verde and the Licancabur Volcano, shimmering—and—challenger to the stunning beauty that is Lake Louise back home in Canada. Potosi is the site of the seemingly photo-shopped mountain of silver, “Cerro Rico” which bankrolled the Spanish Crown for almost two centuries. The most affluent city in Latin America rivalling Paris and producing almost 100% of all the precious metal wealth in the Spanish colonies in its day. Sucré is a charming, colonial city rich with folklore, where the Constitution was signed and refuses to give up its heritage as the birthplace of Bolivia.
The textiles in Sucré are inexpensive up in the Market of Recoleta, and the weaving is incredibly intricate. Worth every dollar spent and far and away the best purchases of the trip. Always use common sense precautions when travelling in Bolivia. Remember that water is a scarcity throughout the country so be careful what you eat and stick to bottled water or the Huari Beer. Bathrooms are a challenge and do not throw any kind of paper product in as it will not flush! Allow a day or two adjust to the altitude before having any of that beer though! Make sure your photographic skills are ready, and be ready to wow your friends and family with every post.
Bolivia will capture your heart, this I promise you.
For more information on travelling to Bolivia, or with Intrepid Travel, you can get in touch with Mark by connecting with him online.