Bolivia Travel Guide

from Travel Insurance Direct
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Bolivia is a landlocked country in South America bordering Brazil to the north and east, Peru and Chile to the west, and Argentina and Paraguay to the south. Approx, fifty percent of the country to the western side is in the rugged Andes mountains which form a double line and the Altiplano highland plateau which is at an altitude of approx. 12,000’.


Approximately fifty percent of the population of the country lives on the plateau, and the area includes the administrative capital city, La Paz , and also Oruro , and Potosi . Lake Titicaca , is the highest natural lake in the world, at 12,500’. The north and east of the country comprise a lowland plain area of the Amazon Basin which has grassland and rainforest areas. Other significant cities in Boliva include Santa Cruz , El Alto, and Cochabamba . To the south of the country in the Highlands is Potosi , which is famous for silver mining and another town called Sucre. The eastern part of the country is mainly humid and hot.


The population is around half Mestizo and half Quechua, with Aymara, whites and others. The main religion is Roman Catholic with some Protestants. Spanish, Quechua and Aymara are the official languages.


The majority of the people in Bolivia are of Indian heritage. In the 14 th century Bolivia was taken over by the Incas who spoke Quechua. They remained in control of the country as part of the Incan empire until the arrival of the Spanish in the 16 th century. At that time the country was known as Upper Peru or Charcas. The Spanish gained much wealth from the silver mines and minerals in Bolivia and many of the Indian inhabitants were used as slaves. The Spanish gradually lost power and the country gained its independence in 1809, becoming known as the republic of Bolivia (after the notorious independence fighter and liberator Simon Bolivar) approx. fifteen years later. Throughout the years Bolivia lost huge parts of its land to neighbouring countries and experienced more political instability.


Among the many attractions are the markets where you can mingle with the inhabitants and admire their beautiful hand-woven colourful clothing.


The capital city, La Paz , the administrative capital, is located in the highland area of the eastern part of the country. The city has views up to the Andean peaks reaching to 21,000’. Visitors can stroll through the plazas of colonial architecture and pick up souvenirs of handcrafted silver and brightly coloured clothing. There are many places to visit within reach of La Paz , including the Valley of the Moon, which has a mystical atmosphere.


Bolivia is a sought-after destination for the adventurous who enjoy touring a country with such rugged terrain and fascinating landscapes. The lack of modernisation and development in a country which has remained quite unchanged can be appealing. The north-east part of the country comprises Amazon Basin and a tour through this area will take you through forest canopies and lush jungle terrain filled with all the wildlife you would expect from a rainforest. Tours of the country can be made by guided tours, hiking, canoe or mountain bike to name a few. Those interested in history will enjoy exploring the final route taken by Che Guevara.


A highlight of a trip to Bolivia is a visit to the famous Lake Titicaca , which is the 2 nd largest lake in S. America being over 100 miles long and 45 miles wide. The south shore of the lake offers accommodations for visitors at Copacabana. Isla del Sol is the larger of the dozens of islands of Lake Titicaca and has the ruins of an ancient temple. The lake was a place of myth of the Incan Indians and there remain many fascinating remnants of their temples and ritual sites where they worshipped their gods.


For the hardy there are treks through the mountains with Llama’s to carry your gear, or guided tours by boat. For mountaineering enthusiasts there are some challenging climbs to high peaks with amazing views as a reward. Or hike to the ice caves of the Zongo Valley. Another must-see is Sorata, which has beautiful landscapes and an underground lake.


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