A Quick Guide To Bolivia
This mountainous country in central South America is named after the famous rebel leader Simon Bolivar, who helped to lead several countries in the region to independence from the Spanish colonial forces. The country itself is unique on the continent in that it still retains a majority of indigenous people among its population, which is around three in every five people in the country. Along with Paraguay, Bolivia is the second of the landlocked countries in South America, and the administrative capital of the country, La Paz, is the highest capital in the world at over three thousand six hundred meters above sea level.
US citizens traveling to the Chapare or Yungas regions of Bolivia are advised to check with the embassy before departure as the political situation in this region does change quickly. It is also recommended to book a taxi by phone rather than hailing a cab on the street, because of the number of tourists that are targeted by criminals. Acclimatization is also important before partaking in any activities in the country, because it is almost entirely at high altitude.
What To See And Do In Bolivia
Lake Titicaca – Lying on the border between Bolivia and Peru this huge lake is the largest on the continent, and was an important site in the region long before European settlers arrived. Today there are some excellent examples of historic steam ships that still operate on the lake.
Visit The Witches’ Market In La Paz – This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in La Paz, although it is also important to those in the city who follow the old faith, and the goods on offer include dried frogs, llama fetuses, amulets and talismans that are all used in local rituals.
See In The Aymaran New Year At Tiwanaku – The Aymara people are one of the largest groups of indigenous groups in Bolivia, and during the winter solstice the New Year celebrations are held at the stunning historic city of Tiwanaku, which is accessible by bus from La Paz.
Take A Journey Along Death Road – This single track road from La Paz to Coroico earned its name from the number of trucks and cars that have fallen over the unprotected edge of the road, and it is now popular among visitors who take a trip by mountain bike along this narrow and treacherous route.
See The Historic City Of Potosi – This was one of the most important colonial cities because of the vast wealth of the silver mines here, and this can still be seen today in the beautiful colonial homes and churches built during the period.
Visit The Jesuit Missions Of Chiquitos – This is a network of six Jesuit Missions that can be found in the east of the country, and each has an impressive church and a collection of buildings and agricultural areas that were used to help convert the natives to Christianity.
The Arcoiris Falls – Located within the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, these waterfalls are not particularly high, but are famous for producing stunning rainbows when seen on a sunny afternoon.
Go Hiking In The Cordillera Real – Many of Bolivia’s highest mountains are to be found in the Cordillera Real range, and the hiking here is exceptional, with superb views of the many glaciers that can be found among these mountains.
Rafting On The Tuichi River – This is a river in the Madidi National Park, and is growing in popularity as a rafting destination because of the stunning scenery that surrounds the excellent white water rapids to be enjoyed here.
Where To Stay In Bolivia
Casa Grande Hotel – This attractive luxury hotel offers a warm welcome for guests, with the luxurious turquoise robe and slippers, while the comfortable rooms have luxury toiletries, and the hotel is close to the city center and the main sights.
Hotel Rosario La Paz – Set in a stunning colonial building, this lovely hotel is sympathetically decorated in a colonial style, and offers quality and competitively priced accommodation within easy reach of the city center.
Cima Argentum Hotel – The glass domed courtyard at the heart of this hotel is a very light and attractive feature, while the rooms are comfortable and very competitively priced in a convenient location from which to explore the city.
Hostal Cerro Rico Velasco – This hotel is located in an attractive colonial style building near the center of the city, and has an lovely traditional style interior, with internet access available in the comfortable rooms of the hotel.
Los Tajibos Hotel – This comfortable hotel is located within a short walk of the major sights of the city, and is a wonderful base from which to explore the city with airy, spacious rooms and a swimming pool and spa on site too.
Buganvillas Hotel Suites And Spa – This attractive hotel is situated just two hundred meters from the city center, but also enjoys a stunning outdoor pool and well equipped rooms that make it a great base from which to enjoy a visit to this lovely city.
Hotel de Su Merced – This hotel is one of the newest in Sucre, and offers pleasant accommodation within a building that is sympathetic to the colonial style of the city, with a lovely terrace and comfortable rooms with large welcoming beds.
Parador Santa Maria de Real – A convenient city center location is one of the positive features in this pleasant boutique hotel, with well appointed rooms and lovely jacuzzi and massage facilities that make it a great place to relax after a day’s sightseeing.
The main meal of the day in Bolivia is usually taken at lunch time, and like many Spanish speaking countries many businesses close between 12pm and 3pm for the staff to enjoy their lunch. Pique Macho is a popular meal, which is made up of diced beef and sausage combined with french fries and eggs. Saltenas are savory pastries that usually have a meat filling, and will usually include peas, potatoes and other vegetables, and are sold from local bakeries every morning. Bolivians usually end the day with an informal light meal, known as La Cena, at around 8pm.
Currency And Visa
American citizens visiting Bolivia will have to pay $135 for a visa to visit Bolivia, which does last for five years and allows visitors up to three return visits per year for the duration of the visa. The local currency is the Boliviano, and you can get around seven Bolivianos per US dollar.
For more information about traveling to Brazil check out Wikipedia’s travel guide here