South America

Bolivia

written by | Posted on July 24th, 2012

This article originally appeared in the Central & South America Guide. It has been extracted from its original format. To read the full guide, visit the digital edition.

Touched only lightly by the 21st century, Bolivia offers awe-inspiring terrain and seems to have a monopoly on things called the world’s highest: it’s home to the highest navigable lake, Titicaca, and the highest capital, La Paz at 12,160 ft. Beyond its fascinating landscape—think salt flats—Bolivia has many of the continent’s most colorful Indian markets. One of the most interesting is the Witches Market right in La Paz, part of the larger Sagaranaga Market that is full of fine crafts. The most essential excursion to make from the capital—spending at least two nights at excellent local lodges—is to Lake Titicaca. Also from the capital, clients can take a 45-minute flight to Sucre, a colonial masterpiece, and those there on Sunday should take a break for the Tarabuco Market. Overland and beyond Sucre is Potosi, another colonial beauty whose silver mines once made her the boom-town of the Americas. Another option is an Amazonia holiday in the Madidi Rainforest Reserve, combining a short flight from La Paz and a canoe ride on the Tuichi River to Chalalan Lodge (chalalan.com), a friendly lakeside property developed with the participation of the local indigenous community. The most talked-about corner of Bolivia, however, is the surreal Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, dotted with lakes, flamingos and unique hotels such as the Palacio Salar de Uyuni (palaciodesal.com.bo), made of salt blocks. It’s accessible overland from Potosi, and now also packaged into a circuit crossing into Chile and the Atacama Desert. (boliviacontact.com)

What’s New in Bolivia

✘ Bolivia’s newest attraction is very old: Jesuit Missions in the Bolivian lowlands near San Ignacio, whose centerpieces are opulent churches decorated inside and out: San Javier, the oldest (1691) was recently restored, complete with a museum.

Up next: Brazil