Superlative in its natural beauty, rugged, vexing, complex and slightly nerve-racking, Bolivia is one of South America’s most diverse and intriguing nations.
Bolivia is not for the faint of heart: rattling down the World's Most Dangerous Road into sultry Yungas; soaring breathless above verdant La Paz valleys in a paraglider; jumping on a horse for a Wild West adventure near Tupiza; pulling a catfish that outweighs you out of an Amazon river (and maybe cooking it for dinner!). Whether your tools are crampons and an ice axe for scaling 19,685ft (6000m) Andean peaks, or a helmet and bravado for jumping into the abyss on a glider, Bolivia's rocks, rivers and ravines will challenge – nay, provoke – you into pushing your own personal limits.
Bolivians love a parade, and hardly a month passes without a procession of brightly costumed celebrants honoring an important historical date or deity. You'll hear them from blocks away before the brass bands and whirligigging dancers approach and envelop you (you may even get to join in). Learn about the history and culture of the country's indigenous peoples at excellent museums, and through the continued presence of traditions and customs in everyday life. Bolivia has South America’s largest percentage of indigenous people – get to know them better by participating in community-based tourism and hiring local guides.
Bolivia is so biodioverse that unique species are being discovered to this day. Tiptoe into caves of tube-lipped nectar bats, their tongues probing the darkness. Tread lightly on the terrain of the poisonous annellated coral snake, deadly in look and effect. Listen for the cackling call and response of a dozen different macaw species (among 1000 bird species) including the world’s rarest, the bluebeard, which can only be found here. Multihued butterflies and moths flit at your feet in the jungle; lithe alpacas and vicuñas stand out in the stark altiplano. Deep in the forest live jaguars, pumas and bears.
Food & Drink
Ever had a llama tenderloin? Here’s your chance, maybe with a glass of Tarija wine. Bolivia's food is as diverse as its peoples and you'll find new delicacies to sample in every town. Markets are a good place to start, though the steaming pots of unfamiliar concoctions might test your nerve. Freshly blended fruit juices will no doubt become a daily habit, and Yungas coffee can be found in a number of new cafes that are popping up around Bolivia. La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz have thriving restaurant scenes where you can sample contemporary takes on traditional local dishes.
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