La Paz is the highest capital city in the world at almost 12,000 feet elevation and it will take your breath away in more ways then one. When you get your first look at La Paz it is from the top of the rim that surrounds the city; many say it resembles a big bowl. The oldest section is at the bottom center and the rest is built out and up the sides in all directions. It’s truly an impressive sight. There is plenty to see and do. The central section has colonial architecture, cathedrals, the university, squares and great markets. Hit the fruit market and catch up on every vitamin that your body is lacking with a fruit smoothie that would have Jamba Juice sigh with envy. Explore the Witches’ Market where you can find all of your lotions and potions to ward off the evil spirits or to cast a spell on an unfortunate individual who has done you wrong. But perhaps the most prominent product available in the Witches’ Market are the llama fetuses, which are for sale almost everywhere you look. Disturbing as this may sound, the fetuses do serve a purpose. They’re buried in the foundations of new homes or businesses as an offering to Pachamama, the goddess of Mother Earth. La Paz, in comparison to other large South American cities, is rather laid back which adds to its charm. However, sometimes you just need to get away from the hustle and bustle. Only a few miles out of the city you can discover Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon), which is a maze of canyons and pinnacles that will have you believing that you’re Neil Armstrong and have landed on the surface of the moon. Looking for some death defying adventure? Challenge your mountain biking skills by descending the “World’s most dangerous road.” This legendary dirt road clings to the side of a 15,000 foot mountain and offers an exhilarating experience while providing stunning view of the countryside.
Looking for a more mellow adventure? Then head on over to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, with an elevation of 12,507 ft. Explore the lively town of Copacabana located on the shores of the lake and serves as a great base camp if you’re looking to check out Isla del Sol and Isla del Luna (Sun & Moon Island). Both islands offer great experiences and insight into life on the lake. Isla del Sol has a few small little villages scattered throughout the island and are connected by a network of hiking trails that offer stunning views of the lake and mountains off in the distance. Accommodations are available if you’re looking to spend the night, grab a glass of wine and watch the sunset after a brilliant day.
Head south to Salar de Uyuni, the amazing salt flats that are the largest in the world. They cover more than 4,000 square miles and sit at an elevation of almost 12,000 feet. Once you get out on the flats the rest of the world just seems to fade away. A breathtaking flat sea of white as far as the eye can see, in every direction. A few small land masses poke up out of the white as if they are islands rising out of the water. On these islands you will find microecosystems with vegetation as well as small animals that have adapted to the harsh environment that surrounds them. One of the best things that you can do is spend the night in the salt flats at a hotel constructed of salt. The table at which you eat dinner, the chairs that you sit on and the bed that you sleep in are all made of salt. At night. go outside and look up. It will seem as if a blanket of stars has been thrown over you, more stars than you have ever seen before and will most likely never see that many again. Enjoy it!
If you’re not already blown away by a country that you almost missed, you will not want to forget about the great colonial cities of Sucre and Potosi, both UNESCO heritage sites. There are great streets to walk, amazing architecture to view, cafes to enjoy a bite, and town squares to grab a seat and take it all in. Another attraction that travelers forget about is the Amazon, which encompassses half of Bolivia’s landmass. If you are looking for a rustic and real Amazon Jungle experience, then Bolivia is where you want to go. But it is important to keep in mind that rustic and real normally translates to basic and somewhat challenging to get to, however those who are willing to make the journey are rewarded with unforgettable memories.
If you have never been to South America, or are still searching for that image that you had in your mind, then look no further than Bolivia. Amazing in every way and waiting quietly for you to discover it and explore all that it has to offer.