Bolivia “the South America center”. Although it does not have access to the sea, it has tourist attractions that offer visitors unparalleled adventures, routes that are not seen in other places and a cultural knowledge to satisfy the most curious scholar. Its majestic landscapes are distributed in the three regions that comprise its territory: Altiplano, at more than 3000 m.s.n.m., it is the highest part of the country and where mountains of more than 6000 m high rise, such as Illimani or Ancohuma; Sub-Andean, zone located at about 2000 m.s.n.m. and the Valleys and Yungas (Andean forest ecoregions), in addition to being an agricultural site par excellence; Llanos and Amazonia, it goes from 200 to 300 m.s.n.m. and covers more than the surface of the country (59%), being the habitat of a great variety of flora and fauna in the Amazon region due to its vast jungles and long rivers, which in turn, give tourists amazing views that will be recorded in the memories forever.
Bolivia has a series of well-known attractions in Latin America, and little by little, it has expanded worldwide. To begin with, its capital, La Paz, is located at more than 3,600 meters above sea level, a city full of culture, churches, museums, squares, buildings and stories that have been passed down from generation to generation and feed the folklore among its population. In its surroundings, it has different viewpoints that allow us to observe the greatness of the city and its contrasts between the modern and the old and. It is about contrasts, we recommend El Alto, a neighborhood at more than 4000 meters above sea level, which has gained fame among tourists for its peculiar architecture. In particular, the cable car tour is the best way to enjoy and move to the upper parts of the city. The church of San Francisco and the Mercado de Brujas were visits that could not be missed in this marvelous city, as well as visiting Plaza Murillo, where the buildings of the executive and legislative power are located, as well as the cathedral of Nuestra Señora de la Paz.
The Bolivia cultural history offers us is unimaginable, and we feel it when we travel to Tiwanaku at 1:30 a.m. from La Paz. This archaeological complex teaches us and amazes us with its admirable constructions, such as the Puerta del Sol, the Akapana Pyramid, Kalasasaya or the Ponce Monolith, demonstrating the level of perfection reached in the Tihuanaco culture. The Chullpares de Macaya southwest of the town of Sajama is another expression of the ancient culture legacy ancithat once settled in this country. The Chullpas are funerary towers that were intende for people of high status in the Aymara or Inca cultures.
The Salar de Uyumi is considered the largest in the world and is visited by thousands of tourists from all over the planet every year. Upon arrival we find an extensive whitish plain like a “desert” with hundreds of salt piles called salares and, in the background, mountains that, together, provide us with a unique landscape that can hardly be seen elsewhere. In addition, we can appreciate other attractions such as the train cemetery, where dozens of trains are located and have become a point of visit for tourists, the Hotel de Sal, where we can appreciate the Salar from another perspective. The visit to this spectacular place can be done in a single day, although if you want to appreciate other destinations near Uyumi, you can extend it to 3 days or more, where we will observe places such as Isla Pescado, the Eduardo Abaroa Andean Fauna Reserve, the Sol de Mañana geysers, the Thermal Baths, the Salar de Chalviri, Valle de Dalí, Laguna Verde, the Licancabur Volcano, among others.
Our trip through Bolivia has not come anywhere near an end. This country leaves us amazed by so many places that it has despite its limited territory. Perhaps, for most travelers, the destinations that we will talk about seem familiar or have heard of them, but it sounds “strange” to many people, even for South Americans, they are places that they have never heard of or would never imagine existing in a country like Bolivia.
A beach in Bolivia? Just as you read it. More than one is surprised to find out that Bolivia has a beach and, when we visited it, we couldn’t believe it. Located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, Copacabana is a small town of about 15,000 inhabitants, but isn’t Copacabana in Brazil? The answer is yes, however, we learned that the Brazilian beach took that name due to devotion to the Virgin of Copacabana, sovereign in Bolivian territory. When we travel through Copacabana (Bolivia), we come across different hills such as Calvario and Pachataka, the first at 900 m high offers us amazing views of Titicaca and Copacabana, as well as being the bearer of 7 crosses that symbolize the seven pains after the death of Christ, while the second, 600 m high, is an ancient pre-Columbian astronomical observatory. Even though Calvario is more visited, Pachataka left us a pleasant impression and, with equally spectacular views. To complement our experience on this beach, we took a boat and went to two islands, Isla del Sol, and Isla de la Luna. The Isla del Sol offers us routes for walking and some archaeological sites such as the ruins of Challa and Ch’uxuqullu, the Rock of Puma or Rock of Origins, the Pilcocaina temple, the Inca steps or the Chincana that revived our curiosity about Bolivian culture and history. On the other hand, when we moved to the Isla de la Luna, we realized that tourism is not as developed as its sister island, although the passivity of its inhabitants and the charms it possesses such as the Palace of the Virgins or the Temple of the Moon “Iñak Uyu” made us fall in love and offered “another air” after everything we have visited up to now.
So far, we have known places that invite you to learn mostly the cultural history of Bolivia. Now we invite you to get to know tourism almost unknown to the vast majority, and it leads us to appreciate this beautiful country from a different perspective. When we arrived in Coroico, 90 km from La Paz, we observed a gradual change in the climatic and landscape conditions because we moved to the Yungas, a region made up of exuberant vegetation, a characteristic given by being in the middle of the Altiplano and the Amazon. Near the population, we find rivers, springs, and waterfalls that we look at while walking along the different paths exist. The adventure came when we heard about “La Ruta de la Muerte” an old road that connects La Paz and Coroico where accidents were common between buses and cars, and now it is used as a bicycle route. We were stunned by the spectacularity and adrenaline that this journey represents, totally different from anything we have seen before, with exuberant vegetation and fauna.
Another fascinating adventure is the one we do on the El Choro Inca trail, a path that we start at about 5000 meters above sea level and finished to 1200 m.s.n.m. It is worth mentioning that Bolivia has a huge of sectors where you can go trekking, but they told us that this journey is a unique experience and trusting by “word of mouth” we embarked on this adventure, and the truth is, they were not wrong. Most of the walk is downhill, except for certain sections that go up, and the path combines different climates, flora, fauna, terrain surface and landscapes. So, if you are one of the people who enjoys quietly observing nature, we recommend the El Choro Inca Trail, and if you are one of the adrenaline lovers in the middle of nature, we suggest “La Ruta de la Muerte”
Honestly, we arrived in Bolivia with medium to low expectations, but we have left this country with a different perspective. This territory has more destinations than we knew and for all kinds of visitors. Salt deserts, impressive viewpoints, adrenaline, culture, and history are some examples of Bolivia has left us, and we hope back soon and continue discovering the hidden wonders that the center of South America enjoys.