Bolivia is one of the most remote countries in the Western Hemisphere. It’s also completely landlocked by Brazil, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Paraguay. This is a place called home by multiple ethnicities – by Amerindians, Mestizos, Europeans and Africans - meaning a myriad tapestry of cultural influence and a rainbow of traditions for tourists to navigate. A place with stupendous natural resources, Bolivia has minerals, forest, fish, and fertile land to rely on for its economy, and it has no fewer than 34 indigenous languages! A land reaching down from the icy peaks of the Andes towards the muggy rapids of the Andes, this country is characterised by extremes; the Amazon rainforest, the tropical savannah or the banks of the Paraguay River.
With a population of just under 9 million people, Bolivia is one of South America’s least populated, most remote countries. While La Paz is the seat of the Bolivian government, the much smaller Sucre is its constitutional capital, as well as a World Heritage Site. Located at an elevation of 9,000 feet, towards the south of the country, Sucre is a blend of colonial Spanish architecture and more local 18th century buildings have won it its heritage status, and its pristine streets are cooled by its elevation. Head to the arched terracotta terraces of the Church of San Felipe Neri for an eye-watering view over the city, rent a quad bike and take a tour of the country, learn Spanish at a snip of the price of other language schools, or stay for longer and volunteer your skills in any number of projects.
Higher still than Sucre, at a colossal 13,000ft, La Paz lies to Bolivia’s north, in the Andes. Located in a dizzying river canyon, and founded by the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, La Paz is a swarm of cultures, with an influx of jobseekers and growing economy which keeps things lively. Head off on one of the walking tours around the city, check out the collections inside the stunning contemporary art museum, or head to the witches’ market an pick up a quirky remedy for what ails you.
Beyond the cities, Bolivia’s small towns are just as enchanting. On the lower slopes of the Eastern Range of the Andes, the little town of Samaipata grows steadily to accommodate the tourists who come to see the carvings of its ancient settlement on the nearby hill, a recognised World Heritage Site. The silver mine of Potosi, meanwhile, is a place of narrow streets, colonial grandeur, and a highly dangerous occupation. The icy town of Uyuni may be remote, but the nearby salt flats reward their visitors with one of the world’s most surreal landscapes; a stretch of flattened, reflective land reaching across 4,000 square miles in eerie abandon. One of the more bizarre, and wonderful attractions in this sparse little place is the train cemetery, a collection of the skeletons of steam engines that once chuffed across the landscape on their way to the ports of the Pacific Ocean, and a key stop on any salt flat tour.
Last Edit by Site Administrators on 7/05/2012 EDIT NOW >>