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Best Places to Visit in Bolivia, Top Attractions
One of the highest and most remote countries on earth, much of Bolivia remains untouched by the passage of time. Bolivia has more indigenous peoples than any other country in the Americas. For travelers, Bolivia offers a diverse mix of multi-ethnic cultural experiences, magnificent natural landscapes and extreme adventures. From luxury Copacabana resorts on the shore of Lake Titicaca to the unworldly expanse of the salt flats of Uyuni, the best tourist attractions in Bolivia offer a wealth of once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences. Bolivia is a beautiful country resting peacefully in central South America. It’s well situated amid a varied terrain spanning Andes Mountains, the Atacama Desert and the wide yet amazing Amazon Basin rainforest. It is known for having some fascinating yet breath-taking sites and one of the incredible sites is for sure the salt flats. It owns the Salar De Uyuni, the largest and highest salt flats in the world. There is a decent number of people flying to this beautiful country in pursuit of a well-deserving holiday hence there are several beautiful places where the visitors can try their luck to amuse and surprise themselves with the country’s charm and beauty. The below-mentioned places are some of the best places to visit in Bolivia which you must explore to witness and experience the real beauty that our world has to offer. Many people think of Bolivia as primarily Andean country or think of Lake Titicaca or the Uyuni Salt Flats first. What they do not know is that the Andean region covers less than a third of Bolivia. Don't miss out on the other two-thirds of the country with beautiful tropical destinations such as rainforests and waterfalls, amazing national parks, the largest city in Bolivia, wonderful historic sites, all influenced by some of the less known ethnic groups in Bolivia such as the Moxos, Guarayos, Ayoreos, Guarani and Chiquitanos. Bolivia is safer than the neighboring countries and provides budget-friendly options for traveling through different areas of the country. Bolivia offers a lot for adventure seekers, as well as those set out to explore something new and mostly unseen. From the high peaks of the Andes mountains, the mind-blowing salt flats in Uyuni, to the hot and sweaty jungles of the Amazon, Bolivia has a little bit of everything.
#1- TARIJA WINE REGION
Chasing the tails of Chile and Argentina’s well-established vineyards, is a small Bolivian town producing some of South America’s finest wines Growing most of their grapes at an elevation of around 1800 meters (6000 feet), Tarija is officially the highest wine producer in the world. Located in the south of the Bolivia, the scenic area enjoys a Mediterranean climate making it the ideal location for wine production. Due to the unique mix of high altitude and warm weather, Tarija’s winemakers claim to be able to age grape juice at a faster rate, enabling them to produce a two year old wine with similar qualities to a six year old wine. Though wine tasting tours in Tarija are not a refined experience, wine aficionados and budding sommeliers will enjoy sampling the variety of fruity reds and floral whites on offer, as well as the local specialty – singani. And for those looking to tickle their taste-buds with food rather than alcohol, Tarija boasts a variety of culinary treats including grilled bife de chorizo and local favorite, dulce de lacayote (caramelized squash). One of the fastest growing cities in Bolivia, Tarija itself is a great place to spend time, exploring the contemporary art galleries, bustling markets and youthful bars.
Veering slightly off Bolivia’s tourist trail is an enchanting town located in the foothills of Santa Cruz. Quechua for “Rest in the Highlands”, Samaipata is not only a unique tourist destination but a popular weekend retreat for Bolivia’s wealthier residents. Featuring stunning landscapes, stylish hangouts, ancient history and peaceful nature walks, the town is a relaxing hideaway for those looking to kick off their boots and enjoy the tranquil surrounds. Samaipata’s main attraction is the World Heritage, pre-Inca archaeological site of El Fuerte, home to the largest carved stone in the world.
#3- SALAR DE UYUNI
If you’re planning a trip to Bolivia, chances are you’ll want to experience the world’s largest salt flat; Salar de Uyuni. Once an inland ocean covering most of the Altiplano and reaching all the way to Lake Titicaca, the endless white desert is now home to some of the most unique and breathtaking scenery on earth. Those traveling by 4×4 will notice that Salar de Uyuni’s landscapes change quicker than a shake of salt. One hour you’re surrounded by flamingos on a high altitude lagoon, and the next you’re standing on an island covered in cacti. When it rains, the water sitting on top of the cemented salts reflects the sky above, turning Salar de Uyuni into the world’s largest mirror.
#4- CERRO RICO POTOSI
Looming over the highest city in the world is a red, dusty mountain, notorious for claiming the lives of Bolivia’s hard working men and children. Cerro Rico, rich in natural resources, once produced so much silver it pushed Potosi onto the world stage, becoming the wealthiest city in the Americas. Due to lack of infrastructure and inadequate safety equipment, millions of workers lost their lives extracting silver from the mountain’s veins, making it one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Despite the past abundance of precious metals, Potosi is now one of the poorest cities in South America. Many of Bolivia’s men have no choice but to work the unstable, mineral-depleted mines in order to scrape together enough money to feed their families. Today, tourists can witness the perilous state of Cerro Rico first hand, taking guided tours through the mountain’s narrow and claustrophobic tunnels.
Bolivia’s fifth largest and most beautiful city, Sucre is the ideal place for travelers to recharge their batteries, study Spanish and immerse themselves in the local culture. Founded by the Spanish in the 16th century, Sucre has been designated as a UNESCO world heritage site to protect its many pristine and historically significant buildings. Largely untouched by tourism, the youthful city is a goldmine of unexplored treasures and cultural activity. It’s also one of the cheapest and safest cities in South America, making it a desirable place to travel to. With its numerous fascinating sights, free events, and cool places to go out, Sucre truly is an amazing place to visit and live.
#6- ORURO CARNAVAL
Situated at dizzying heights in the arid Altiplano region of Bolivia is a mining town home to one of the most famous festivals in all of South America. Each year on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday, the usually sleepy Oruro comes alive, hosting the world renowned Carnival. The unique festival features spectacular folk dances, extravagant costumes, beautiful crafts, lively music, and up to 20 hours of continuous partying. A party like no other, Oruro Carnival is Bolivia’s most sought after tourist attraction, drawing crowds of up to 400,000 people annually. Whilst the festival is celebrated throughout most of the country, Oruro is without doubt the most popular, offering a memorable experience for all those involved. If you’re lucky enough to be in Bolivia at this time of year, Oruro Carnival is one fiesta not to be missed!
#7- THE CHIQUITANIA REGION
Veering slightly off Bolivia’s backpacker trail is the Chiquitania Region, a stunning yet rarely visited area teeming with exciting and unspoiled attractions. Differentiating itself from other parts of the country, the Chiquitania Region shines for its tropical savanna climate, Jesuit Missions, fascinating wildlife and unique natural history. With sights such as the mysterious rock formations of the the Santiago de Chiquitos Mirador and the hot thermal springs of Aguas Calientes as well as activities such as jaguar watching at Kaa Iya National Park and sandboarding in Lomas de Arena, it’s difficult to understand why the area is so delightfully devoid of tourists.
#8- MADIDI NATIONAL PARK
Spanning 7000 square miles from the Andes deep into the Amazon, Madidi National Park is one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet. Traveling by boat from Rurrenbaque across the Beni river, tourists stepping foot onto the jungle’s muddy floors will delight in the multitude of flora and fauna on offer. Traversing the rugged terrain, you will come across winding rivers, rolling grasslands, mosquito laden lakes, steep slopes and possibly the seldom seen indigenous people of the tropical rain forest. The best way to experience Madidi National Park is through one of the many ecological and cultural tours providing an authentic and safe jungle experience. Whether it’s spotting a jaguar, smelling the scent of a rare type of flower, learning about the different medicinal plants, or listening out for the chirps of more than 1000 species of bird, this national park has something to offer every nature lover.
#9- YUNGAS ROAD
One of the most popular activities in Bolivia is the exhilarating and death-defying bike ride along one of the world’s most dangerous roads. Surrounded by mountainous terrain and terrifying precipices, the winding road grimly known as ‘Death Road’ due to its notoriously high death rate, stretches 69kms from La Paz to Coroico, connecting the Amazonian rain-forest to the busy city. In 2009, construction of an alternative road replacing the dangerous stretch was completed with all traffic being diverted to the new road.
#10- LA PAZ
Set against a striking backdrop of snow-capped mountains is Bolivia’s third most populous city and the world’s highest seat of government. Juxtaposed with the colorful lifestyle and traditions of the Aymara people, La Paz is full of modern cafes, clubs, bars and restaurants as well as traditional markets, historic plazas and colonial architecture. There are numerous sights to discover, free events to join, and adrenaline pumping activities to experience.
It is also one of the oldest and highest urban cities ever built. Today, Tiwanaku remains an enigma, shrouded in mysteries of how, when, and by whom it was constructed. Ruins are made up of impressive architectural structures with many of Tiwanaku’s stone creations defying explanation, posing more questions to archaeologists than answers. Located about 72 km (44 miles) west of La Paz, visiting Tiwanakau is a must for anyone fascinated by ancient civilizations and mind boggling architecture.
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