7 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Bolivia
The vast, mesmerizing plains of Bolivia contain some of South America's most remarkable scenery, as well as a unique set of historical and cultural sights. Located in the Andean foothills between Argentina and Chile, the country is a treasure trove of Bolivian specialties, from Chicha (a traditional beer) to the solid silver of the Sajama artisanal craft industry.
The Bolivian cultural landscape stretches back almost as far as the country itself, with magnificent ancient sites, stunningly gorgeous landscapes, and fascinating museums like the Museum of Gold. And the imposing 19th century legacy of Bolivia's 19th century dictator, General Jose del Carmen Suarez, can still be felt. Travel to Bolivia with our guide to the best things to do in Bolivia.
Cochabamba is a small and pleasant Bolivian town on the banks of the Beni River, which flows out of Lake Titicaca into Bolivia and Peru. Cochabamba is one of Bolivia's best places to see the ancient Incan site, the city of Sacsayhuamán, about an hour's drive outside the city. In addition to the Inca site, this little city is a pleasant place to stay if you want to avoid the crowds in the main tourist resorts. Cochabamba is located just a short boat ride away from two beaches and four interesting lakes that are a delight for visitors.
Salar de Uyuni
One of the world's largest salt lakes, Salar de Uyuni, occupies three Chilean provinces in the south-western tip of Bolivia. It's a place of unexpected charm, a vast expanse of shining white desert with the pyramidal Salar de Uyuni mountain rising majestically in the far distance. The world's hottest temperature is recorded on the surface of the Salar at 48°C. There are few plants and animals in this remote, remote place and there's nothing to do but look for flamingos, alpaca and the odd dinosaur bone.
Sacred Valley is a fertile and lush region in the south of Bolivia, its soils so rich in minerals and wildlife that it was once known as “The Garden of the World.” Its people still respect the earth for providing food and drink, and make the most of the surrounding mountains and deserts by converting them into irrigated valleys and national parks. Its attractions include the 17th century Aymara puma sanctuary and two natural lakes, Urubamba and Calca, which form part of the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, South America's largest protected area. Sacred Valley is home to the largest concentration of people with indigenous blood in the world, and is also a hive of religious tourism with major sites like the Catedral San Cristobal of Paititi, built in 1450, and the Jesuit ruins of Santa Catalina, near the town of La Paz.
Laguna Colorada is a high-altitude desert that rises steeply from the eastern side of the Cordillera Occidental mountain range. The most challenging part of the hike is the route to the lagoon, which begins in the lush forests at the edge of the canyon and climbs to a rocky col at the peak of the valley before the trail levels off and the road follows a dusty ridge that leads to the base of the lagoon. At high tide, the water fills up the entire lagoon, and it's quite a sight. At low tide, most of the lagoon is empty and you can walk along the flat rocky shore and admire the wildflowers of the natural reserve. The lagoon can also be reached by boat or by walking along a path on the western shore of the river Laguna Rullana. The trip takes about three hours and the scenery is much more impressive when it's not raining.
Isla del Sol
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Isla del Sol, off the coast of Chiloe Island in southern Chile, is the last of the 23 fully preserved calderas that make up this special landscape of volcanoes, the most famous being the Aconcagua in Argentina and the other sister sites such as Cumbre Vieja and Ubinas in Chile and Peru and Ganso del Grillo in Venezuela. Nestled on the tip of the island, the beautiful little fishing village of Villarrica, one of Chile's most modern towns, has a laid-back vibe and is a great place for recreation. There are terrific views from the central plaza of the town's soaring colonial church and small cathedral. Another major attraction is El Mercado Artesanal (tourist special). Around an hour's boat trip by motorboat, Isla del Sol's Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the best places in the world to see massive sheets of ice flow down massive glacier valleys into the sea. The views from the little coves and inlets of the island are magnificent, taking in the imposing craggy peaks of the Andes and the imposing Patagonian landscape in this part of the world. It is possible to snorkel in the glaciers as well. The island is served by frequent air and sea transport from Santiago, as well as fast boats from Puerto Montt in Chile. This is a very beautiful place, part of the southern Andes.
Sucre is one of Bolivia's hidden gems. It's a historic city and one of the country's most interesting places, with a colorful history. Located in the middle of Bolivia and just a short distance from the Peruvian border, Sucre is famous for its colonial architecture and delicious food. Its impressive sights include the La Casa de Fierro (Iron House), a restored old mansion with a spiral staircase built by an unknown architect and terraces with views to the mountains beyond. It's also a popular wedding destination. The church, built in 1660, is worth a visit. This is one of the best places in Bolivia to see cacti. Some of the best are at Chiquitos, where the park also has ancient petroglyphs and a village where all the locals speak Quechua, the language of the Inca people. The park is located just a 15-minute drive from Sucre and is a botanist's paradise. Sucre's name is derived from the Zuni Indians, who dominated the city in colonial times. They were given the name Sucre or Aucre by the Spanish, in order to distinguish them from the descendants of the Rumi (mestizo) Indians, who ruled the city before the Zuni. Sucre's population has expanded over the years. At its peak in 1875, the city had some 50,000 residents, and over 200 churches, though only 10 remain. Other attractions include the Parque del Centenario, which has nice views, a museum, and a railway that has been restored to its original state.
Yungas Road, also known as "The Road of Vilaya," is a magnificent natural road, a panoramic path leading from Tarija in the Argentinean Yungas through the Bolivian tropical jungle. Highlights of a trip are trekking, hiking and biking through the forest to picturesque Yunga villages, panoramic views of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, and valleys that descend from over 10,000 meters above sea level down to the Amazon basin. The route was originally built by the locals, but in recent years it has been used as a tourist route.