Bolivia is one of South America’s most diverse and exciting countries. It’s a place full of adventure, where the peaks of the Andes plunge into the depths of Bolivia’s Amazon basin, which is itself home to thousands of exotic species of wildlife. It is a country whose culture passes from vibrant city-wide processions to quaint villages, home to South America’s largest percentage of indigenous people and some of the continents most mouthwatering cuisine.
Bolivia – A quick view
Time difference: UTC -4 Hours
Flight time: Approx 20 hours
Visa Required: On arrival for British passport holders
Currency: Bolivian Boliviano (BOB)
Tel Code: +591
Population: 11 million appx
Official Language: Spanish
Recommended Airlines: British Airways, American Airlines, Iberia, KLM, Air France.
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One of Bolivia’s most enchanting destinations is Salar de Uyuni – the world’s largest salt flats. It is an otherworldly landscape of uninhabited, glistening white salt that forms a gigantic mirror beneath the feet. It is as unique as it is stunning. Another unique landscape is the Moon Valley, or Valle de la Luna, as it’s known locally. The valley is home to an alien-esque topography of eroded clay mountains, that have formed tall spires of varying colours. Close by is the Palca Canyon which offers fantastic views over the changing endscapes towards the Illimani mountain, and the little Witches’ Market (La Hechiceria), where it’s possible to buy potions, dried frogs and medicinal plants from local witch doctors. These can all be reached easily from Bolivia’s capital La Paz, which along with being the world’s highest capital city, is home to an increasing collection of
museums and vibrant markets and is surrounded (and built on) the Andes’ Altiplano plateau. Don’t miss the dizzying cable cars which serve as public transport in the city and the historic Plaza Murillo – which is the colonial heart of La Paz, filled with beautiful architecture such as the cathedral, which took 152 years to build, and the sprawling Government Palace.
Elsewhere, the gorgeous Lake Titicaca offers one of Bolivia’s most beautiful natural escapes. Straddled on the borders of Bolivia and Peru, the lake is home to numerous islands such as the gorgeous Sun Island, and surrounded by jagged snow-capped peaks. In local folklore, the lake is said to be the birthplace of the sun, but in real terms, it is the largest lake in south America, and quite easily one of the most beautiful. If you’d prefer to spend your time getting to know more about the indigenous peoples, their history and past, then take a visit to Tiwanaku – a pre-Columbian archaeological site in the west of Bolivia, which may have been inhabited since 1500BC, and is thought to have been the centre of the Tiwanaku Empire.
Points to ponder
Bolivia’s popular cuisine is Spanish, as are Argentinian, German and Italian influences. We recommend our travellers to try llama tenderloin, and equally wide choices for vegetarian such as Yucca and cheese pancakes. Check out Skanda Holidays blog page for a bit more on Bolivian cuisine.
Weather can be a little confusing in Bolivia, especially in the capital where temperatures can soar during the day and dip below freezing when night falls – so pack appropriately for both extremes. The country is quite formal, and old-fashioned politeness is still widespread, so remember to greet everyone you talk to with a formal “good morning”, “good afternoon” and “good evening” before starting a conversation. Learn more about tipping and essential travel tips – “Bolivia – A quick travel guide”