Bolivia

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Bolivia literally stands above the rest of South America.  Because snow-capped mountains seem to rise in every direction, travel here is dominated by adventure trips such as biking the “world’s most dangerous road” and mountaineering.  Those activities are epic, but Bolivia deserves to be considered for cultural travelers as well.  The colonial towns, indigenous markets, and tourist-free cities are a respite from over-touristy neighbors Peru and Ecuador.  In addition, the clear Spanish and low cost makes it a wonderful place to learn Spanish, especially Sucre.  The longer one spends in Bolivia, the more impressed he will be.

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DON’T MISS: Salar de Uyuni, Sucre, La Paz
MUST SEE: Salar de Uyuni.  Bolivia has a lot of beautiful scenery, but the Salar de Uyuni is a unique place that is like nowhere else.
MUST TASTE: Market food.  The central markets have amazing food all day for pennies.  While visually the stalls didn’t seem hygienic, we never got sick eating almost every meal in the markets.

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TRIP PLANNING: Traveling in Bolivia is probably an add-on to a trip to Peru, it doesn’t need to be though, there is more than enough to justify a trip in itself.   Many of the activities of Peru can be done just as easily, but much cheaper, in Bolivia, including visitng the jungle and mountaineering.
GETTING AROUND: Buses for short trips, otherwise flights on Amazonas and TAM are cheap and substantially faster than buses through the mountains.  A one-hour flight can replace an uncomfortable 24 hour bus ride!

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OUR COST PER DAY (2 ppl): $87.32 (expensive due to taking several guided tours)
COST OF A BEER: $1.50 for big beer from small grocery stores.
KEY MONEY-SAVING TIP: Stay in local hotels.  We found private rooms in local hotels cost less than dorm beds in foreigner orientated hostels.  We also had many friends robbed in and around foreigner hostels, find a nice local place to save money and stay safer.

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YOU NEED TO KNOW: Not everyone gets robbed when they go to Bolivia, but it sure seems that way.  In our entire trip it was the only place we were robbed (our laptop was stolen out of a bag on a bus) and seemingly everyone we met had electronics stolen from them on buses or in hostels.  Be extra vigilant with things you don’t want to lose.
IF WE KNEW WHAT WE KNOW NOW: We would have done more research on climbing guides.  In-country everyone says the same things, but service levels are vastly different.
HELPFUL LINKS TO LEARN MORE: Information on Bolivian travel can be hard-to-find.  Try Frommer‘s and Lonely Planet.

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WE WERE THERE FOR: 4 weeks.  (Visited previously for 3 weeks)
OUR HIGHLIGHT: Salar de Uyuni.
WHERE WE WENT: Salar de Uyuni, Potosi, Sucre,
WE REGRET MISSING: Climbing Illimani.  Due to time constraints we chose to move on instead of climbing the mountain that towers over La Paz.

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Bolivia Highlights

Short on time? The highlight reel of our 4-week trip to Bolivia including mountain climbing, amazon exploring, the world\'s largest salt flats and more. Tour Bolivia in 22 photos!

Salar de Uyuni

The Salar de Uyuni is the world\'s largest salt flat. While that superlative is impressive enough, the surreal mirage-producing reflections are hard to describe. The salt flats and backdrop produce some of the most interesting travel photos many people will ever take.

Madidi National Park (Amazon Rainforest)

The Madidi National Park is one of the best and cheapest places for visitors interested in visiting the Amazon rainforest. As part of the world\'s largest nature reserve, it is home to startling biodiversity, including 11% of the world\'s bird species, pink freshwater dolphins and piranhas. The park is truly a gem of the world.

Rurrenabaque Pampas

The plains of the Amazonian Pampas allow visitors to get up close to nature including alligators, freshwater dolphins, monkeys and the world\'s largest rodent, the capybara. Cyclical flooding pushes rivers well past their banks, then back again, causing the animals to often be on the move and interact in a dynamic way.

La Paz

The world\'s highest altitude capital city doesn\'t seem so high when visitors look up at the surrounding mountains. The natural beauty, history and modernization combine to make it a unique city worth visiting.

Huyana Potosi

The world\'s most summited 6000 m (roughly 20,000 feet) mountain, Huyana Potosi isn\'t just a high altitude hike. It offers climbers a great introduction to ice/snow climbing, the spectacular feeling of reaching a summit, and, best of all, an epic view from Andes to Amazon.

Potosi

Potosi\'s mine funded the Spanish Empire to new heights. While the mine is claimed to be the most productive silver mine in the world\'s history, it was also the deadliest, with claims of 2-8 million workers perishing to deliver the riches to Spanish colonizers. Today the city offers few glimpses of its former glory, but does have some magnificent UNESCO World Heritage churches and monasteries.

Tarabuco

The center of the indigenous Yampara culture, life continues in Tarabuco as it has for ages. Its colorful market makes for a unique cultural experience.

Sucre

Called the most tranquil city in South America, the colonial town of Sucre was a peaceful retreat for the rich from Potosi. Well laid out, maintained and kept, it is a wonderful city to take a break, enjoy some delicious chocolate or stay for a Spanish class.

Lake Titicaca

The world\'s highest altitude navigable lake, Titicaca is breathtaking. The crisp cool water meets snow-capped mountains to create colors and views that are one-of-a-kind.

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Interested in experiencing Bolivia yourself?  Click here for more trip ideas!

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