Bolivia: travel books to read before you go

This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Bolivia guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.

Sitting at the top of the South American travelogue list is the humorous and well-written Inca-Kola, by Matthew Parris. It follows the meanderings of several Englishmen on a rollicking circuit throughout Peru and parts of Bolivia.

A great read, especially if you’re traveling in the lowlands, is Jungle: A Harrowing True Story of Survival (originally published as Back from Tuichi) by Yossi Ghinsberg; it’s about an Israeli traveler who gets lost in the Parque Nacional Madidi in the early 1980s and how he finds his way out of the jungle.

Other travel books that are worth noting include Chasing Ché: A Motorcycle Journey in Search of the Guevara Legend, by Patrick Symmes, and The Incredible Voyage: A Personal Odyssey, by Tristan Jones, which follows the intrepid sailor’s journey through landlocked Bolivia on Lake Titicaca and beyond.

An offbeat historical character is portrayed in Lizzie: A Victorian Lady’s Amazon Adventure, compiled by Anne Rose from the letters of Lizzie Hessel, who lived in the Bolivian Amazon settlement of Colonia Orton during the rubber boom of the early 20th century.

Exploration Fawcett, by Percy Fawcett, is a fabulous jungle travel book from the early 20th century.

Less travelogue and more history book is the comprehensive synthesis of recent Bolivian political history, Bolivia: Between a Rock and a Hard Place, by Pete Good, which provides the most up-to-date commentary on Bolivia.

The Fat Man from La Paz: Contemporary Fiction from Bolivia, a collection of short stories edited by Rosario Santos, is a widely recommended read.

For a good synopsis of Bolivian history, politics and culture, check out Bolivia in Focus, by Robert Werner.

More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here.