Bolivia Travel Guide

Bolivia Adventure Travel Guide: Ideas and Inspiration

PureTravel Says: “Beautiful Bolivia is a small, landlocked country right in the heart of the Andes Mountains and is bordered by Brazil in the east and north, Argentina and Paraguay in the south and Peru and Chile in the west. This Latin American destination has great appeal, and has recently become one of the most popular travel spots for visitors who love an adventure and the outdoors. Bolivia is a country that encompasses the aura of traditional Latin America, with a rich culture filled with history. This country offers miles of endless countryside, flecked with mountains and jungles. Bolivia is a place where people can escape the tourist-laden areas of souvenirs and markets, to get to the heart of the real country and get to know the nature and wildlife than anything else. It is also the perfect place for thrill seekers who can climb the tallest mountain peaks and take rugged jeep rides across the terrain. It is a place to discover new cultures, new customs and make new memories.”
Holiday Highlights

Culture & History - With indigenous natives making up the majority of the population, Bolivia has much of the same ancient traditions and customs that it used centuries ago. These people use natural medicine, practice native religions and use traditional dialect. They still dress as they did decades ago, with little of the colonial villages seeing renovation in these times. Yet, in Bolivia none of these modern conveniences are missed. The country is able to present a beautifully preserved culture that is nearly non-existent anywhere else on the planet.

Walking & Trekking - The diverse terrains of mountains and forests make Bolivia a trekkers dream. There are incredible trekking opportunities in the Andes Mountains, with many great peaks to climb. There are also smaller areas that offer great trekking opportunities for younger and less skilled climbers. In addition, there are many great hiking trails all over the country that allow trekkers to get a great look at the natural surroundings of Bolivia.

Jungle Tours - The jungles of Bolivia are filled with amazing animal species, birds and plants that will have visitors exploring for days. There are many ways to tour the jungles of Bolivia. The most common option is taking a canoe or other boat up the Amazon, which travels through the forests and offers an interesting way to see the scenery. There are also some walking tour options in some areas, but traveling with a guide is recommended.

Mountain Sports - Bolivia’s location around the Andes Mountains makes it the perfect destination for mountain lovers. There are many sporting options to choose from depending on the area visited. Mountaineering is very popular in several areas, due to a large number of high peaks in the country. In higher areas, snow is often found making it perfect for skiing.
When To Go

The summer months are from May to September and are the warmest and driest of the year, and provide the most comfortable temperatures for jungle tours and trekking. However, temperatures often drop dramatically at night so this should be taken into consideration when making travel plans. Thanks to a typically tropical climate, Bolivia is easy to visit any time of year, however the months from November to March can be very wet and may cause landslides. If you are considering skiing, the best months to visit are from April to June, when the weather is less icy.
Top Tips

-Respect the traditions and show social courtesies to locals.
-Bolivians living in rural areas are commonly called “campesinos”, and should never be referred to as Indian.
-Time keeping is famously bad in Bolivia; so don’t be offended if a meeting or tour is not on time.
-Residents of many countries can visit for up to 90 days without a visa (such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Spain, Turkey, UK)
Holidays In Focus

Culture and History - Bolivia’s culture is a remarkable and intriguing one, which has seen little change in the last few centuries. Much of the Bolivian culture has been shaped by the indigenous tribes that make up two thirds of the country’s population. These people still stick to the ancient traditions that have been used by their ancestors for years. Some examples that one would find of this are in the local dialects, scarce dress and use of natural medicines. Here, the country has not been overcome with commercialism but has rather embraced its roots. The local nature and landscapes remain pristine. The Bolivian culture is one of preservation and pride in land, one that is strong yet still inviting. It is for these reasons that so many people choose to visit Bolivia every year, so that if even for a few days they can escape the modern world and take a trip back to a simpler time.

Although Bolivia has not seen much change, there has been some development. These changes have now been categorized into three distinct categories that show the greatest impacts on the Bolivian culture. These three periods are pre-Colombian, colonial and republican. Each of these periods can be examined closely thanks to the conservation efforts of the natives. These distinct periods can all be seen in the ruins, art, sculpture, monuments and architecture still found all throughout the country.

Due to the presence of so many ancient tribes, there is a good preservation of ancient ruins in Bolivia. The most popular of these ruins include Iskanwaya, Incallajta, Tiwanaku and Samaipata. These ruins show great examples of the pre-Columbian culture that can difficult to find elsewhere. In fact, the country is filled with many of these types of archaeological places that allow visitors to get a better look at a civilization that no longer exists.

Much of the art found in Bolivia has been influenced by the Spanish, which has come to be known as “Mestizo Baroque”. This form of art can be seen in many buildings, paintings and sculptures found all over the country. In fact, there are several works of art done by accomplished artists available for viewing including Flores and Perez de Holguin. There have also been various forms of religious music from ancient cultures that has been found that is also in this baroque style.

While Bolivia is not known for their architectural details, there is a strong Spanish influence in much of the architecture the country does have. In addition, many of the buildings that can be found in Bolivia still hold on to the colonial architecture, which is always interesting to view. The village of Sucre is the best place to find these examples of architecture.

The Spanish brought their own tradition of religious art, which, in the hands of local indigenous and mestizo builders and artisans, developed, into a rich and distinctive style of architecture, painting, and sculpture known as "Mestizo Baroque." The colonial period produced not only the paintings of Perez de Holguin, Flores, Bitti, and others but also the works of skilled but unknown stonecutters, woodcarvers, goldsmiths, and silversmiths. An important body of native baroque religious music of the colonial period was recovered in recent years and has been performed internationally to wide acclaim since 1994.

Trekking & Walking - Trekking is a great way to explore the beauty and nature of Bolivia’s countryside, and thanks to the country’s great climate and abundant offering it is easily accomplished. There are many regions, both mountainous and flat, that provide wonderful trekking opportunities. There are ten national parks and several other areas that are especially equipped for trekkers. Many of these areas not only provide trails, but also have many kinds of wildlife that trekkers can see.

The capital city of La Paz is the most popular trekking destination, which still includes many of the ancient Incan trails that have been used for centuries. Cordillera Real is a good trail to try in this area, which goes through the valleys in the Andes and offers views of the Amazon. Another well-regarded trekking route is from La Cumbre to Coroico, which takes around three days, and is perfect for real adventure seekers. A slightly shorter option is to take the Taquesi route, which runs through the Cordillera Real, and takes around two days to complete. The most advanced trekking route would be to travel along the El Camino de Oro route, which takes around six days to complete, and offers a great variety of scenery to take in. It is highly advisable to take an easy to read map or a guide when going on these treks since it can be easy to get lost.

Jungle Tours - If trekking isn’t your thing, another great way to explore Bolivia is to take a jungle tour. These tours take visitors through endless jungles, along rivers and near mountains. Native guides who have a very good knowledge of the area, which can be confusing for non-natives, always do jungle tours. These guides are also expected to know a good deal about the wildlife and plants that can be found in these jungles, which add a nice complexity to the tour. Commonly, these tours are conducted from motorized canoes that can easily swerve through the winding river, offering a fun and informative view of the jungles. Traditional jungle tours will generally travel up the Beni and Tuichi rivers, which have plenty of opportunities to get off the boat and walk around. There are also great camping sites on these rivers. A good tour that is best for viewing wildlife is to travel near the pampas. Trips along the Río Mamoré, Parque Nacional and Noel Kempff are also popular.

Mountain Sports - Bolivia offers some of the most beautiful and challenging mountains in all of Latin America. The majestic Andes take up a large part of Bolivia and offers some of the highest peaks in the world. Because of this there are several options for visitors to explore in the mountains of Bolivia. Mountaineering is the most popular attraction to the mountains along with trekking. The Cordillera Real has several peaks that offer stimulating slopes for experienced climbers to try. Sorata is another good place to climb mountains, with many climbing excursion possibilities and accommodations available.

In the higher regions, it is common for snow to fall, making it perfect for skiing. Mount Chacaltaya, which is near La Paz, is the most commonly skied area in Bolivia. In fact, this area is home to the world’s highest ski resort, adding an extra element of excitement to the skiing experience.
Classic Itineraries

-Take a three-day trek and camp along the La Cumbre to Coroico route.
-Exploring the works of famous Bolivian artists like Guzman de Rojas and Marina Nunez del Prado.
-Discover the "devil dances" at the annual carnival of Oruro.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites

- City of Potosí
- Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos
- Historic City of Sucre
- Fuerte de Samaipata
- Noel Kempff Mercado National Park
- Tiwanaku: Spiritual and Political Centre of the Tiwanaku Culture
Public Holidays, Festivals and Events

January 1 - New Year's Day / Año Nuevo
February 2 - Feast of the Virgin of Candelaria / Fiesta de la Virgen de Candelaria
March/April - Good Friday / Viernes Santo
March/April - Corpus Christi
May 1 - Labor Day / Dia del trabajo
June 21 - Andean-Amazonic New Year / Año Nuevo Andino Amazónico
August 2 - Agrarian Reform Day / Día de la Revolución Agraria, Productiva y Comunitaria
August 6 - Independence Day / Dia de la Patria
November 1 - All Saints Day / Todos Santos
December 25 - Christmas Day / Navidad
Travel Resources

By Julie Bowman


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