Geographically – and some would say metaphorically – the heart and soul of the country, the Central Highlands are a mix of lively urban centers and vast pastoral and mountainous regions dotted with remote villages. Gorgeous whitewashed Sucre, where independence was declared in 1825, is the gateway to trekking the Cordillera de los Frailes. Potosí is a powerful symbol of the natural wealth of the country, built on the silver deposits extracted from nearby Cerro Rico. Much-lower-altitude Cochabamba is one of Bolivia’s most pleasant cities, with a perfect climate and modern vibe.
Throughout, there are lovely, little-known colonial towns; it’s well worth eschewing the city-to-city mode of travel to explore them. A more distant past is evoked by the Inca ruins in the Cochabamba Valley, but Parque Nacional Torotoro has the last laugh on the age front: it’s bristling with dinosaur footprints and fossils, some of which date back 300 million years.