If there’s one way to describe Bolivia it has to be extreme!
La Paz, the governmental capital of the country is also the world’s highest administrative capital city at roughly 3,650m above sea level! This place certainly has an interesting welcome for tourists with its thin air, you’ll need to learn to slow down and relax your breathing or risk altitude sickness.
Before I visited the country, I’d not read or heard a huge amount about the country, therefore I was really intrigued. La Paz however is full of quirky, fun things around every corner, the one memory that will always stick with me was seeing people dressed as zebra’s helping to guide traffic in the crowded capital.
One of the most unusual but interesting things to see in La Paz is the witches market, this is not your everyday market believe me! You’ll mostly find dead animals being displayed in rather an odd way, it makes for grim viewing, but is definitely worth venturing to.
Something I highly recommend buying here is coca tablets, they are made from coca leaves which just happens to be the primary raw material used in the production of the drug cocaine! Coca leaves are sold absolutely everywhere in Bolivia and also across South America, however outside the country it is illegal so be very careful what you purchase.
The tablets I bought certainly helped me avoid getting altitude sickness!
If you want to find out more about coca, there’s even a museum! It’s rather small and rough around the edges but they have a fantastic cafe upstairs which no surprise sells everything involving coca…including beautiful cakes and hot chocolate, I highly recommend.
If like me you try to buy at least one local product when you visit a new country, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed if you purchase anything made from Alpaca wool. I bought a fabulous hat which now keeps me warm in the winter, not just that but it looks so glamorous…naturally!
Probably the most famous place to visit in Bolivia is Salar de Uyuni, however unfortunately on my trip I didn’t get chance to visit. I did however find one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited, it’s a small-inhabited island called Isla Del Sol (Island of the Sun), which I can only describe as incredibly peaceful!
Isla Del Sol is situated near the city of Copacabana, for the residents to receive water they must get donkeys to carry the water up a rather steep hill, therefore water is precious!
As I was visiting the island with a group, some of us went off trekking to see what else the island had to offer whilst a few of us went to visit the tiny “centre of town”, which wasn’t more than few houses. The island has some incredibly beautiful views, I lay in front of my cottage for most of the day watching the world go by, getting burnt in the process.
What do you get if you mix high altitude and a 5,420m mountain? One tired individual!
Near La Paz is one the best views in South America, climbing Mount Chacaltaya, although tough, was worth every painful footstep towards the summit. Up here you’ll find the worlds highest ski area, along with the worlds oldest ski lift, which almost never operates according to locals.
Although Bolivia is home to world’s deadliest road, the drive up towards the start of my Mount Chacaltaya journey was incredibly scary, so if you don’t like sheer drops then I’d advise not to take a minibus!
In the west of Bolivia lies Lake Titicaca, South America’s largest lake. A truly magical place where people work and live on man-made reed rafts, however you’ll mostly see these on the Peruvian side, so there’s only one thing for it … ON TO PERU!
The big question is … can anyone really tell the difference between a llama and an alpaca after visiting Bolivia???
If you’d like to discover more photographs and information from this trip or any others please feel free to ask me any questions. You can visit my Facebook page and please don’t forget to ‘Like’ Travel Geek UK.