The often under-valued South American country of Bolivia has a lot to offer, home to other-worldly landscapes and fascinating indigenous cultures, as well as a whole lot more. Read on for some of our best recommendations for things to do in Bolivia.
Airstream Adventure in the Salt Flats
There’s camping and there’s glamping, and it doesn’t get much more glamp than on a two-night Airstream caravan expedition through the 4,000 square miles of the Uyuni salt flats. This is hardly the most crowded place on earth, but there are a few spots on the flats that are renowned camping locations, so with an Airstream towed by 4x4, you to get to power out into the truly remote corners of this already super-remote destination. For the duration of your stay the camper remains stationary, meaning guests can return back to the same spot each night for sheer simplicity.
Once in situ each evening, the fun really begins, as the support crew (who drive along behind at a discrete distance during the day) leap into action setting up a fire and pop-up kitchen while you drink sundowners by candlelight as the entire salt flats glow a deepening red.
After an exemplary dinner that might include (delicious) llama steak washed down with excellent South American wine, it's time for sleep in the queen-sized bedded Airstream complete with its own loo, shower, heating and fully stocked minibar while the support team head off to the nearest town leaving you in splendid isolation.
The next morning is likely to begin with a sunrise every bit as spectacular as the sunset, followed by a breakfast of locally produced coffee, freshly squeezed juices and papayas before a day spent cycling on the mountain bikes provided, trekking across the salt flats or up the neighbouring volcanoes, or visiting local villages.
While we think this is perfect romance or honeymoon material, we can arrange for a convoy of three Airstreams for families or groups of friends. Alternatively, spend the night in a hotel made entirely out of salt blocks, another unique way to experience this stunning corner of the world.
The Choro Trail
Follow in the footsteps of the Incas as you trek down a beautifully preserved stone path, which takes you from the barren Bolivian Andes down into the subtropical foliage of the Yungas.
Set in the Cotapata National Park, the 3-day El Choro Trek is one of the most spectacular hikes on the continent. Starting at 'La Cumbre' (The Summit) at 15,400ft, this ancient Inca trail links the Andes with the warm cloud forest below, descending over 11,000ft in total to the small town of Chairo. It's a landscape full of contrasts and enchanting scenery, which will see you starting your trek in the snow-capped Andes, passing down through the clouds into the thickly forested valleys below, where heat and humidity begin to show their faces.
You'll see colourful birds, butterflies and plants as you make your descent, and be able to cool off in one of the many refreshing waterfalls which you'll pass on the way. Lots of little quirks make it particularly special, from rickety old bridges over rocky rivers to Tamiji, the Japanese hermit who fell in love with the Yungas while travelling there almost 60 years and now runs a campsite where he meticulously makes a note of everyone who passes through it.
Explore the City of Sucre
Discover Bolivia’s second city of Sucre, whose white colonial architecture provides an excellent insight into the country’s Spanish colonial past. The food markets here are a great way to experience and understand local life and sampling as much local produce as you can is an absolute must. Nearby, and well worth a visit, is the largest collection of dinosaur footprints in the world, which are nearly a billion years old.
Visit Cerro Rico in Potosi
Potosi was once the wealthiest place in South America thanks to the immense wealth its silver mines yielded. These days the mines of the Cerro Rico still operate in largely the same way as they did during colonial times, providing a rather sobering insight into the incredible difficult conditions that miners are required to work in.
Take a walk around the enchanting city of La Paz. Amble up to the fascinating Witches Market, located in the city centre, where you can sample potions, spells and seek spiritual advice. Just don't take a photo… unless you want to be cursed! Ride the Mi Teleferico, the world's highest cable car, up to neighbouring El Alto, for spectacular bird's-eye views of this sprawling metropolis.
A three-hour transfer from La Paz takes you to the ancient Lake Titicaca, the largest freshwater lake in South America. At 12,500f feet above sea level, it is also the highest of the world's big lakes. From here, you'll visit the monumental Tiwanku ruins, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site since 2000. Admire pre-Columbian architecture including palaces, pyramids and giant monoliths.
The Yungas (Death) Road
Not for the faint hearted, the four to five hour downhill cycle ride on the challenging Yungas road is perfect for thrill seekers. As you wind along steep mountainsides and cliffs, just remember to be careful on this remarkably busy and narrow road (it's only 10ft wide). During the 12,500ft descent cyclists will pass everything from snow-capped mountains down to lush Amazonian jungle.
Pacaya Volcano Hike
Head out on a privately guided hike up the active Pacaya Volcano, starting in the surrounding pine forest before heading up the trickier molten rock area where hot steam seeps through crevices at the base of the volcano. Learn about Pacaya's formation and evolution as you traverse its ever-changing face, and take in views of neighbouring volcanoes, pacific lowlands and even El Salvador.
Kayak on the Lake
Take a leisurely kayak tour of Lake Atitlan, starting in San Pedro la Laguna and ending up at Las Cristalinas beach where you can relax on the white sand and swim in the lake. On your way, enjoy views of the lake's surrounding volcanic chain including Acatenango and Fuego, and the many lakeside villages that you can visit en route.
Two hours from Lake Atitlan, the traditional market town of Chichicastenango, with its red-tiled roofs and narrow cobbled streets, feels like stepping back in time and is the perfect place to pick up some local artisan crafts. Visit on the market days of Thursday and Sunday when indigenous Mayans from surrounding villages come to trade their wares.
Just a short distance from the town of Sucre is the world's largest collection of dinosaur tracks. Spend a day walking among ancient footprints and gazing up at life-size replicas of the animals who dominated the earth for so long. While you are there make sure you visit the centre of Sucre; Bolivia's constitutional capital city is famed for its colonial architecture, especially the main town square.
Potosi National Mint Museum
Made famous by the silver mines located in the city, Potosi was once the wealthiest city in the colonial Spanish empire, as it minted huge quantities of this precious metal, mined by native people under terrible conditions. Now declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is well worth a visit to learn more about the fascinating and heart-breaking history the city hides.
Salir de Uyuni Salt Flats
Whether you are staying in a hotel made of salt, or a luxury Airstream, make sure you explore the strange landscape of the salt flats. There are explosive geysers, colourful lakes, mountains and hidden villages, plus the area us also home to huge flamboyances of pink flamingos (one of the coolest collective nouns there is!)