Bolivia things to see and do

Things to see and do

Amazon jungle trips

Venture into the Amazon and stay at a jungle eco lodge such as Chalalan (www.chalalan.com), situated in the park next to Río Tuichi and four to five hours by boat from Rurrenabaque. There are many other tours available to the Parque Nacional Madidi and the Pampas del Yacuma. Typical jungle trips include motorised canoe trips where you can see pink dolphins, guided rainforest walks, and rustic lodge accommodation. There are regular flights from La Paz to Rurrenabaque.

Carnival

Join in the street party at the annual Carnival (www.orurocarnaval.com), the most faithful expressions of folklore in South America being in Oruro with its historic Entrada and Diablada procession. It is often viewed as one of the world's last 'authentic' cultural celebrations.

Che Guevara Trail

Visit the resting place of Ernesto “Che” Guevara in Vallegrande, a quiet market town. Here you can go to the Museo Municipal Ruta del Che Guevara, where you can see photographs of him and his guerrilla comrades. From here you can also hire a guide to take you to the town’s various Che sites, including the hospital where he was put on display to the world, his mausoleum. Die hard fans can also take the 3-hour trip to La Higuera, the hamlet where Che Guevara died.

Cochabamba

Discover the garden city of Cochabamba, with its excellent local cuisine and imposing statue of Christ. Many claim it’s the most welcoming city in Bolivia due to its year-round spring climate and the openness of locals. Explore the rambling street markets and sample some local maize beer.

Go climbing

Climb the dramatic Cordillera Real with its ice-capped peaks, condors and hawks. You might even catch a glimpse of South America’s only bear species. It has six peaks above 6000m (20,000ft) and many more over 5000m (16,000ft). Climbing excursions (complete with mules, porters and guides) can also be booked in Sorata, an Alpine-style village. Seek out the café Pete's Place for the latest news on routes and access.

Jesuits Missions Trail

Admire the striking churches along the Jesuit Mission Trail east of Santa Cruz in Chiquitos. In the eighteenth century, a handful of Jesuit priests built magnificent colonial churches in a series of flourishing mission towns, before being expelled and seized by the Spanish Crown. Six out of the 10 churches still exist today (they were rescued in the 1970s). The churches are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to a sacred music festival every other year.

La Paz

Explore the street life in the world's highest capital city. La Paz is situated in a mountain canyon at 3,632m (11,910ft) above sea level. Overlooked by Mount Illimani, it’s both otherworldly and majestic. The capital’s main attraction is the street life itself – a bustling clash of European and Aymaran identities. See colonial palaces, churches and museums (notably in Plaza Murillo), wander the cobbled, colourful streets of Calle Jaén, venture into the indigenous area of Plaza San Francisco, with its impressive Church and sprawling witches’ market, and rummage through the Mercado de Buenos Aires where you can get anything and everything.

Laguna Colorado

Travel around the Salar de Uyuni and marvel at Laguna Colorado, its fiery-red waters illuminating wandering flamingos that criss-cross the terrain, framed by copper mountains, and Laguna Verde with its conical volcano on the Chilean border.

Lake Titicaca

Take a cruise on Lake Titicaca, the biggest high-altitude body of water in the world, which straddles the Bolivia-Peru border. The enormous azure freshwater lake is home to several small island communities, including the Uros islands made entirely from reeds and Isla del Sol with ancient Inca ruins.

Mountain bike down 'Death Road'

Hurtle down 'the world's most dangerous road' on a mountain bike, more commonly known as the “Death Road” amongst travellers. Originally the road connecting La Paz and Coroico, the passage has recently been replaced by a quicker (and safer) bypass road. Many travellers take the adrenalin-fuelled trip, which starts at the Cordillera Real in the mountains and descends rapidly down twisting roads into the Yungas jungle. At some points the rough track is only 3m (10ft) wide and there are 600m (2000ft) drops down one side. Take time researching tour companies – Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking (www.gravitybolivia.com) is highly reputable.

Mountain scenery

Admire some of Bolivia's spectacular mountain scenery on a day hike or horse ride around the Zona Sur region of La Paz. Hotel Calacoto (www.hotel-calacoto-bolivia.com) can arrange excursions.

Potosí

Explore historic Potosí, once the most important city on the continent and currently the highest city in the world at 4100m (13,500ft) above sea level. Situated at the foot of Cerro Rico (‘Rich Mountain’), it was famed for its mineral wealth, especially silver (its population was equal in size to contemporary London) and today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take guided tours to the mines, the striking churches and the former Royal Mint, Casa Real de la Moneda.

Salar de Uyuni

Soak up the unique landscapes and revel in the exotic wildlife on a tour of the Salar de Uyuni. Not only will you see the world's highest salt flats, but also colourful, mirror-like lagoons, hot springs, volcanic geysers, huge rock formations and isolated communities. Agencies in both Uyuni and Tupiza arrange two to three night excursions with basic accommodation and guided jeep tours.

Sucre

Marvel at the colonial façades of constitutional capital Sucre, otherwise known as 'the white city'. An architectural delight, the city is home to beautiful churches, monasteries, mansions and whitewash buildings – in fact, governmental regulations require that all buildings are painted white once a year to maintain its character (it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Wander the tranquil squares and market centre, which is known for its traditional weaving.

Tiahuanaco

Ponder the mysteries of ancient history at Tiahuanaco (also spelt Tiwanaku), believed to be the capital of the pre-Inca civilisation, established some three millennia ago. The site is dominated by a series of evocative temples and a compelling museum of ancient artefacts.

Trekking

Go trekking through ancient Inca trails. Most treks start from La Paz and Sorata, and the most popular trek is the moderate three-day Choros Trail from La Paz to Coroico. The three-day Taquesi Trail is a moderate hike from La Paz, while the Illampus Circuit from Sorata is a rewarding but demanding six-day trek.

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