There are so many things to do in Bolivia – It is one of the most diverse countries on the planet, boasting rugged mountains with snow-capped peaks; vast deserts; dense jungle; volcanoes; high-altitude lakes and the world’s most dangerous road! The capital city, La Paz is the highest administrative capital in the world. It’s definitely one of South America’s more challenging countries to travel, with tourism being far less-developed than its closest neighbours, Brazil, Peru, Chile and Argentina, but this is what makes it such a fascinating place to visit and one of the world’s unlikeliest travel destinations.
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in La Paz.
Bolivia is an absolutely beautiful country whose storied history, mind-bending customs, and friendly locals make it a great place to visit, especially because so much of it hasn’t yet been transformed to cater to tourists. If you love vacations that don’t fit a traditional mold, because the place hasn’t been overly influenced by the broader world, Bolivia is for you—at least for the time being. Here are seven reasons you should visit Bolivia now:
Here are 7 Reasons to Visit Bolivia Now
Bolivia is still one of the most culturally intriguing places on earth, with about 60% of the population being of direct indigenous descent – the largest in Latin America. Like some parts of Peru, many local men and woman still wear their traditional dress every day, but unlike Peru, this is not done primarily to provide an attraction for tourists – they simply value their culture, heritage and tradition.
There are around 36 indigenous cultures, spread over the Andean regions and the Eastern Lowlands, including the Amazonas. The influence of outside cultures, like European, African, and Asian add to the mixing pot of cultural tradition. One of the best things to do in Bolivia is simply to explore and immerse yourself in the many cultures.
Adventure sports and outdoor activities are one of the best things to do in Bolivia. With its huge range of landscapes and climates comes a huge range of adventurous activities. You can even go abseiling in La Paz down the side of the tallest hotel in the Capital. The next day, take a death-defying ride along the North Yungas road, also known as The World’s Most Dangerous Road.
Bolivia is also a paradise for hiking, trekking and climbing, especially the Cordillera Real, Isla del Sol and Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world! If water is your passion, then try white-water rafting down the Rio Coroico. When you’re ready to head south, take a four-wheel-drive adventure through the Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats, one of the largest in the world, all the way across the border to the Atacama Desert in Chile.
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Lake Titicaca.
Bolivian cuisine is probably one of the least spoken of in Latin America and on first arriving in the Capital city, La Paz, you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s limited to basic rice dishes and fried chicken! Bolivian cuisine stems from a variety of cultural backgrounds, with the primary influences being Spanish and the native flavours, blended together with whatever produce is available.
The vast difference in the landscapes of the Andean highlands and the Amazonian lowlands reflects deeply in the food you’ll find in each. In the harsh climate of the Andes, be sure to try some local specialties, like Chairo – a beef soup with vegetables and chuños – and Saltenas, a local type of Empanada. With all of the amazing things to do in Bolivia, you’ll be hungry, but certainly not disappointed. If you’re willing to dig a little deeper into your adventurous side, you’ll be rewarded!
Bolivia gained worldwide attention for the introduction of its ‘Law of the Rights of Mother Earth,’ which essentially gives nature the same rights as humans. This incredibly progressive move is reflective of the incredible biodiversity and the country’s eagerness to protect it. With nearly 200 different ecosystems, Bolivia boasts over 25,000 plant species, including more than 3000 medicinal plants and a mind-blowing 4000 varieties of potatoes! It also claims to be the origin of the pepper, chili pepper and peanuts.
From the highlands to the lowlands, Bolivia also has over 2,900 species of birds and animals, including hundreds of reptiles, thousands of birds and of course, the noble-man of the mountains – the llama! A trip into the great outdoors is one of many things to do in Bolivia and could be the highlight of your trip.
The history of Bolivia is as rich and varied as it is turbulent, with its earliest roots in the Aymara, part of an advanced ancient civilisation from Tiwanaku region in Western Bolivia. Around 1000 AD, the Tiwanaku empire fell apart, due to an extreme shift in climate which left all agricultural land dry and barren.
The Incan Empire ruled over much of Bolivia during its later years (1438 to 1527), but it wasn’t long before the Spanish arrived, conquering practically all Incan civilisations by the 16th century. Along with the rest of South America, uprisings, rebellions and civil wars raged in Bolivia for the first part of the 19th Century, with independence finally declared in 1825.
Further wars within South America and more revolutions left Bolivia politically and economically unstable and the stunted growth of the country is still clear now, with much of La Paz appearing to be stuck in a melancholy time warp from the early 1900’s. One of the best things to do in Bolivia, is exploring some of the many museums and cultural centers of La Paz, to help gain a greater understanding of this amazing country and its people.
Although not well-known for its wine, especially with the competition from neighbouring Chile and Argentina, Bolivia is experiencing a resurgence in wine production. There are numerous valleys where wine has been made for more than 400 years, mostly around the Central Valley of Tarija, Potosi, La Paz and Cochabamba.
Claiming the highest altitude wineries in the world, it’s said the higher elevation provides the grapes with more sunlight to intensify the flavours, while cool winds stop the grapes from baking. Apparently the high elevation also helps wine to age faster, giving the Bolivians an obvious advantage, allowing them to achieve the same smoothness and balance as other locations in only two years, instead of six!
When talking about the landscape of Bolivia, the first question to ask is, ‘Which one?!’ From the high altitude of the Andean mountains providing stunning vistas of rugged mountains and snow-capped peaks, to the deserts and colourful algae lakes of the south and the Amazon rain forest to the east, you can find almost every type of landscape in Bolivia, except of course, for coastal, as it’s one of only two land-locked countries in South America.
The variety of cultures, traditions, history and cuisine in each landscape are even more diverse than the land itself, making Bolivia one of the richest countries in the world – at least in terms of people and experiences, if not in money.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Krista is a Dentist by profession but backpacker by heart. She believes in living in the moment, one day at a time. She prefers on collecting good memories and experiences over material things. She is into mountain climbing, dental missions, budget travels, dark chocolates, steak and frozen yoghurt.