Often overlooked by neighboring Peru, Chile, and Argentina, Bolivia has remained somewhat of a hidden gem in South America. However, with its incredibly diverse landscapes, rugged natural beauty, and rich cultural traditions, Bolivia is a beautiful country full of adventure (and not very many tourists!).
But we do not have to work too hard to convince you; Bolivia’s beauty speaks for itself! Continue reading below to see for yourself all of the incredible adventures that are waiting for you in Bolivia.
1. Tour the mines of Cerro Rico, Potosi
Originally discovered by the Incas, then later used by the Spanish as the primary source of silver during the conquest of the New World, Cerro Rico (or “rich mountain”) towers over the city of Potosi in Bolivia. The mine is a great destination for those travelers interested in seeing the effects of Spanish conquest on Bolivian natives. Though the silver is now gone, the mines are now open for tours, which provide an important source of income for local workers! If you’re interested in discovering the troubling history of European conquest of the Americas, Cerro Potosi is a must-see.
2. Experience the magic of the Oruru Carnaval
Every year just before Ash Wednesday, the town of Oruru plays host to one of the most elaborate cultural and folkloric festival in all of South America: the famous Carnaval. This fantastic spectacle features almost 30,000 dancers and musicians and draws crowds of over 400,000 people. In fact, this festival is so extensive and elaborate that it has been named one of UNESCO’s Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
3. Discover the amazing history of Tiwanaku
Located near the famed Lake Titicaca, the ancient city of Tiwanaku was once the capital of the Tiwanaku Empire, one of the largest and most impressive civilizations prior to the Incas. This empire expanded through parts of Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, and Chile from 500 A.D. to 950 A.D. At its peak, the city consisted of nearly 30,000 inhabitants! Today, the remnants of its impressive temples, pyramids, large gates, and carvings still remain for visitors to explore.
4. Adventure through the Chiquitania Region
The Chiquitania region of Bolivia includes six “mission” towns that were founded by Jesuit priests in the 17th and 18th centuries. Set against an iconic frontier backdrop, the Jesuit missions in these towns continue to be a powerful cultural force in Bolivia. All of these towns represent beautiful examples of old Spanish frontier architecture, and they can be explored in one long tour, or visitors can spend a longer time in each town. The beauty, history, and culture is not to be missed!
5. Hike through the spectacular Parque Nacional Madidi
This impressive national park spans all the way from the Andes to the Amazon and is considered to be one of the most biodiverse places in the world. Visitors can take various walks and hikes through the protected areas and try to spot the unique titi monkey, giant otter, exotic birds, or even the elusive jaguar!
6. Visit the whitewashed city of Sucre
Founded by the Spanish in the 1500s, Sucre is a beautiful, white-washed city located in the southern highlands of Bolivia. Sucre is home to gorgeous classical churches, lovely galleries, and numerous historically-significant sites, including the famous Casa la Libertad, where Simon Bolivar wrote and signed the Bolivian Declaration of Independence. It is a lovely city to explore leisurely and enjoy!
7. Bask in the beauty of Lake Titicaca
One of the world’s largest bodies of water, Lake Titicaca borders Peru and Bolivia in the Andes mountains. Known as the ‘birthplace of the Incas,’ the lake is full of numerous ruins and local communities and has become a popular vacation spot for Bolivians and foreigners, alike. Take a few spectacular days to bask in the beauty of this lovely lake!
8. Explore La Paz
When visiting Bolivia, a trip to La Paz is an absolute must! Get a beautiful view of the city from the famous cable car, visit the bustling street markets, and try the classic traditional Bolivian dishes!
9. Walk through the unique salt flats of Salar de Uyuni
Perhaps Bolivia’s most recognized geographic feature, Salar de Uyuni, is a 4,000-square-mile salt flat that was formed by a prehistoric lake. The salar is a huge expanse of pure white, on which visitors can walk or drive. Driving across this flat, especially after the rain, will feel like you are driving across the clouds!
Don’t forget to join us on our new Acanela Local Expedition — the Best of Bolivia — where we will visit the Salad de Uyuni, the whitewashed. city of Sucre, and the bustling capital of La Paz!
Written by: Grace Klopp. Instagram: @geographyofgrace.