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Introducing Bolivia

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Salar de Uyuni © Judith Duk

Bolivia Travel Guide

Bolivia shares the aura of mystery and ancient culture which draws travellers to South America, and is an increasingly popular destination for adventure tourism and budget travel. It is rugged, unpolished and somewhat overwhelming but this diamond-in-the-rough richly rewards exploration. Bolivia lures courageous tourists and is ultimately a wild place, promising the sweaty splendour of the Amazon jungle, the surreal white emptiness of the world's largest salt flats, and the towering heights of the Andes.

Although the dramatic natural landscapes are enough to justify a visit for many, Bolivia also commands respect for its cultural and spiritual wealth: the country is home to the ancient Aymara, Tiahuanaco and Inca civilisations, among many others, and proudly enshrines cultures and languages found nowhere else on Earth. In fact, Bolivia is celebrated as having the most concentrated indigenous population in Latin America, with much of the population still embracing the beliefs, rituals and lifestyles of their ancient predecessors.

Bolivia can be a challenging destination and is undoubtedly a bit rough around the edges, but for those seeking an authentic South American adventure this off-the-beaten-track status is a big advantage.

Best time to visit Bolivia

Bolivia boasts a wild variety of landscapes and altitudes, making climate extremely variable according to region. Winter, between May and October, is the dry season and the most popular time to visit, but travellers should make their decision on when to visit Bolivia based on their desired activities. Read more on Bolivia's Climate and Weather.

What to see in Bolivia

-Explore Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world.

-Visit the resort town of Coroico, traversing the infamous 'Road of Death' to get there!

-Marvel at the bizarrely beautiful Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world.

-Follow the trail of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid from Tupiza.

What to do in Bolivia

-Begin an Amazon adventure from the frontier jungle town of Rurrenabaque.

-Climb the imposing Huayna Potosi, a popular challenge for the adventurous.

-Tour the primitive and fascinating Cooperative Mines of Cerro Rico.

-Trek through the beautiful and diverse Amboro National Park. Read more on Bolivia Attractions.

Getting to Bolivia

There are no direct flights to Bolivia from the US or UK, but indirect flights are available. Flights most commonly land at El Alto International Airport, eight miles (14km) southwest of La Paz, and Santa Cruz Viru Viru International Airport, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Get more information on Bolivia Airports.

Read

Bolivian Diary by Ernesto Guevara, The Night by Jaime Saenz, and Whispering in the Giant's Ear by William Powers.

Listen

Emma Junaro, and Octavia.

Watch

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Che (2008), and Quantum of Solace (2008).

Drink

Singani, Bolivia's national drink, which is a type of brandy.

Eat

Saltenas (savoury pastries filled with meat and vegetables) are the national dish, and both escabeche (pickled vegetables) and quail's eggs make delicious snacks.

What to buy

Assorted handcrafts are the best Bolivian souvenirs, with different regions specialising in different skills. Popular buys include ceramics, silver and tin trinkets, and textiles.

What to pack

Medication for altitude sickness is a must for many travellers. Don't underestimate either the hot Bolivian sun or the cold Bolivian nights!

Did you know?

-La Paz and Potosi are the two highest cities in the world.

-Bolivia has more than 30 official languages and 36 native cultures.

-Bolivia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, and boasts 23 major ecoregions.

A final word

Striking landscapes, weird and wonderful local traditions, and cheap prices make it more than worthwhile to rise to the challenges of exploring Bolivia.

Become our Bolivia Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Bolivia travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Bolivia or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.

G.A.P. Adventures

Tour operator G.A.P Adventures has for the past 14 years specialised in unique, small group, grassroots adventure travel experiences in the world's most wild places, going off the beaten track into the heart of the destination to meet the locals who call it home. G.A.P. Adventures offers several expeditions to the Bolivian Amazon and Andes.

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Intrepid Travel

Intrepid Travel, one of the world's leading suppliers of small group adventures, focuses on getting off the beaten track, interacting with the locals and having real life experiences throughout Bolivia.

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