The harsh and sometimes almost primeval geography of the Southern Altiplano will tug at the heartstrings of visitors with a deep love of bleak and solitary places. Stretching southwards from La Paz, this high-plains wilderness is framed by majestic volcanic peaks, endless kilometers of treeless stubble and the white emptiness of the eerie salares (salt deserts), which are almost devoid of life. At night the stargazing is spectacular, but it’s as cold as you could ever imagine.
The area around Parque Nacional Sajama offers some breathtaking scenery and climbing, while revelers may wish to hit up Carnaval celebrations in the gritty, straight-talking mining city of Oruro. Further south Salar de Uyuni is the star attraction, and a three-day jeep tour of the region is at the top of most travelers’ itineraries. From here, you can head to the warmer cactus-studded valleys around Tupiza for horseback riding and mountain biking.