A list of the top 10 things to do in Bolivia, from Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca to the Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats – the largest mirror in the world.
TOP 10 things to do in bolivia
1. Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats: Salar de Uyuni is home to the world’s largest salt flats. The alien-like landscape was formed from a giant prehistoric lake which largely evaporated leaving behind a thick crust of salt. The result is simply stunning: miles and miles of pure white terrain, almost blinding in their beauty. When wet, the flats create a giant mirror of the sky – an effect that is both surreal and extraordinary.
2. Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca: We loved our time on Isla del Sol. This mythical birthplace of the Sun God lies on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca and is home to a collection of 80 ruins and a small population of 800 families. Its cross-island hike offers panoramic views of the lake, painted a breathtaking blue, and a glimpse of the imposing mountains beyond.
3. Cordillera Real: With more than 600 peaks over 5,000m (16,400ft) and six over 6,000m (19,700ft), Bolivia’s Cordillera Real has the best hiking, climbing and cycling in the country. Easily accessible from La Paz, the area boasts numerous peaks for the more experienced mountaineer, plenty of rock-climbing opportunities and the chance to build your own adventures with local tour operators and travel agencies. Visit May to September for the best weather.
4. Parque Nacional Madidi: Madidi is home to some of the most diverse plant and animal life in South America. It comprises a variety of Andean and Amazonian ecosystems including dense tropical rainforests, regularly flooded savannahs, pristine cloudforest and snowcapped mountain peaks. The best way to visit the park is via one of the community projects offering ecotourism opportunities within the park.
5. Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve: The desolate landscape of Reserva Eduardo Avaroa offers an alien beauty similar to Salar de Uyuni. The park is filled with glacial salt lakes stained red or green by microorganisms and mineral deposits. It’s jotted with snowcapped peaks, frozen deserts at high altitude and strange rocky outcrops wind-swept into bizarre formations. A great way to visit is en route to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, arranged in Uyuni.
6. La Paz: Few cities have a setting as dramatic as La Paz. At 3,650m (11975ft) above sea level, the city is cradled in a canyon, offering dramatic views of the Andes in the distance. Hit the highlights with a walking tour and an afternoon in the surreal Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), 10km from town. Also worth a visit is the ‘Witches Market’ in nearby El Alto where women hawk rows of dead animals to citizens who in turn offer them up to Pachamama (Mother Nature).
7. Tiwanaku: A visit to the ruins of this iconic pre-Columbian, pre-Incan city makes for a great day trip from La Paz. It’s not Machu Picchu but the carved monoliths, archways and arcades, museum and the mysteries of this lost civilization will keep most visitors interested. There are several hotels, restaurants and a plaza nearby.
8. Camino de las Yungas: Nicknamed ‘Death Road’, Yungas may just live up to its title as the most dangerous road in the world. In 2006, it was reported that the road claimed 200 to 300 lives, making it one of the most dangerous things to do in Bolivia if not the world. Most of the road is only 3.5m wide, meaning that one wrong manoeuvre can send vehicles hurtling into the abyss. Despite the unpaved sections, lack of guardrails, potential mudslides and falling rocks, the road has become a top attraction for thrill-seeking cyclists, at least 18 of whom have died on the road since 1998.
9. Potosí: Once the largest and wealthiest city of the Americas, Potosí is both a fascinating and tragic place. The nearby Cerro Rico (Rich Mountain) was once the richest source of silver in the world with its vast mines making Potosí the richest possession in the Spanish empire, but today the city is a shadow of its former prosperous self. Despite that, the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts a huge collection of colonial art and architecture including more than 2,000 colonial buildings.
10. Sucre: With so many things to do in Bolivia you would be forgiven for overlooking this charming city. It features some of the best colonial architecture in South America and enjoys a mild climate all year round. Known as “The City of Four Names”, the constitutional capital has been repeatedly renamed over the years and enjoys a youthful vitality not found in many parts of Bolivia.
Lonely Planet Bolivia is a comprehensive guide to Bolivia, ideal for those who want to explore the top things to do in Bolivia as well as take the road less travelled.The guide includes: colour maps and images throughout, highlights and itineraries, insider tips, essential information, honest reviews for all budgets, cultural insights and over 50 local maps.
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