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Nestled in the soaring Andes, the country that bears the name of the legendary freedom fighter Simon Bolivar is jam-packed with diversity. Bolivia may be small in size compared to its South American neighbors, but it is full of geographical and cultural treasures waiting to be discovered.
A Bolivia itinerary can be full of options for all sorts of travelers. History enthusiasts can explore the remains of both the Inca civilization and the colonial period in the capital city of La Paz. Similarly, nature lovers can explore the Uyuni Salt Flats as well as Madidi and Sajama National Parks. With so many possibilities, the major question one has is how many days one should spend in Bolivia.
- Lukito Arif
Bolivia is a great travel destination, not least because of its large offering of attractions. Prices in the country are relatively cheap, making it possible even for travelers on a budget to get the maximum out of their trip.
When planning your Bolivia itinerary, we recommend that you focus on getting the most from the days you have. If it is a seven-day stay you are looking at, then use La Paz as your base and explore its surrounding attractions. However, if time is the least of your concern and you have a couple of weeks at your disposal, you can enjoy a road trip through the country and experience the full potential of this ancient landscape.
If one week is all you can devote to your Bolivian vacation, then you will have a packed schedule.
La Paz, Bolivia’s capital, is not large. However, its elevation (the city lies 4,000 meters above sea level) will definitely test your endurance.
Do not miss out on a trip to San Francesco Cathedral while in the city. This mammoth edifice is known for its ornate architecture and masonry work. Also add a trip in an overhead gondola to your itinerary. The cable cars that run above the city offer a better perspective of the place along with scenic views.
If you have an interest in anything transcendental, then the Witch Market will definitely test your squeamishness.
Done with the capital, we suggest that you head out to the coffee plantations in the town of Coroico. Located just ten kilometers outside of the city, this charming little town is the perfect place to replenish yourself with a dose of caffeine when your energy level goes down.
Located just a few miles outside the capital, the Valley of the Moon is yet another Bolivian highlight that you must cover while in the country. Its craggy outcrops cleaved by labyrinthine trails imbue the area with a mysterious, otherworldly look. Although the valley is accessible by car, you should hire a guide if you feel adventurous enough to go on a hike since the tracks can be quite challenging at places.
Having a few extra days to spend in Bolivia means that you can now see Lake Titicaca. Considered the world’s highest navigable lake, Lake Titicaca’ coastline is home to Inca ruins. People have inhabited this area since prehistory and the local mythology places it as the birthplace of the Sun god of the Incas. Sail its calm waters if you wish to and enjoy sunsets. You can camp in one of the several islands that dot the lake and gaze at the stars as you drift into sleep.
For those seeking an adrenalin-fueled escapade, we suggest a cycling trip through the Road of Death. Although the older version of this stretch claimed many lives over the years (hence the name) and is still a tourist attraction, that reputation has been put to rest by a newly constructed section. Be reasonable and do not take unnecessary risks while you are there.
Time means opportunities, and with 14 days to spare, you can cast your net further afield. The salt flats of Uyuni are must-see. Explore the endless landscape during the day and see the Milky Way like never before at night. A three-day excursion through the salt flat will allow you to see the lagoons and geysers that pepper the landscape. Done with Uyuni, you can head out to discover Tiwanaku. Located 75 kilometers from La Paz, this place was once the epicenter of an agricultural empire.
Another popular destination worth visiting while in Bolivia is Potosi. A city in the country’s southern highlands, Potosi’s silver mines fueled the prosperity of colonial Spain. Explore its mines and see the underground halls that were carved by miners over 500 years ago.
Three weeks are enough to cover Bolivia in its entirety without the need to rush. On the top of your list of places to see in the country should be Selva Boliviana. Part of the Amazon, Selva Boliviana is known for its lush greenery and languid waterways, where one can spot everything from crocodiles to anacondas.
Located on a hill 40 minutes away from Sucre is Parque Cretacico, where travelers can see several thousand dinosaur footprints. If you are traveling with children, they will have a field day identifying different species of these giant creatures that roamed this land millions of years ago.
Although three weeks is a long time, no day will be wasted when it comes to your Bolivia vacation. If you still find some time to spare, round up your Bolivia trip with a visit to Laguna Colorada, a saltwater lake awashed in red that is home to pink flamingos.