Bolivia has a unique and diverse ecology, along with a fascinating and somewhat mysterious history. The country usually attracts certain types of visitor who tend to gravitate toward the many things to do involving heritage and ecological tourism. There are literally hundreds of companies in Bolivia offering experiences ranging from the bizarre to the academic, the spiritual, and the outright dangerous.
If there is one thing that you must do in Bolivia, it has to be a tour of the salt flats in the southwest. Nowhere else on earth is like the other-world landscape of this awesome location. Tours usually take three or four days, with the salt flats encompassing just one of those days and the rest of the time filled with remarkable sights like geysers, volcanoes, lagoons, wildlife, and inspiring mountains.
Exploring La Paz is the kind of experience that defines why we travel to foreign lands; the sights, the smells, and the altitude are intoxicating. For a night out, try the Sopocachi area of the city. Guided tours can be arranged through Zigzag Bolivia or Diana Tours.
The Road of Death, about an hour’s drive from La Paz, is a 50 mile (80 km) bike ride along a winding, narrow, exhilarating trail that descends 3,400 meters from start to finish. Tour companies usually drop visitors off at the top of the mountain and then collect them at the bottom so you’re mostly on your own to tempt fate. Several companies offer this excursion, including Edge Adventures and Gravity Bolivia.
The salt flats, known locally as Salar de Uyuni, are actually part of the world’s largest salt lake, covering an area of 10,000 square miles. Tours start in the town of Uyuni and head across this great expanse. Highlights include: Eggshell Island, the Red Lagoon, Tunupa and Jiriri volcanoes, and the Hotel de Sal – a hotel made entirely of salt.
Take the Lake Titicaca trail to explore the Sacred Lake of the Incas. Many ancient civilizations have venerated this body of water and archaeological remains are still visible today. There are many tour companies that offer their own particular specialty packages, including Imaginative Traveller and Edge Adventures.
A jungle tour through the Amazon is another popular attraction. The starting point is Rurrenabaque in the north where an army of tour operators run excursions. Bolivia has gained a reputation as being the cheapest among the countries surrounding the Amazon, but buyers beware, not all guides are ethical or honest so do your homework to ensure a great trip. Green Tracks can take you through the rainforest for a stay in an Amazon jungle lodge.
Quad biking through the spectacular mountains of Sucre is a mostly off-road adventure amid some truly stunning scenery. Full instruction and some practice lessons are given beforehand, but virtually all riders pick up the basics in no time. Tours can be arranged through Off-Road Bolivia.