Bolivia is located in central South America. It is the most “Indian” state, as the majority of its population is made up of Quechua and Aymara Indians. More than anywhere else, it displays the main features of the mentality of South American indigenous people – contemplation, tranquility and friendliness. The country got its modern name after gaining independence in 1825, in honor of Simon Bolivar, a famous fighter for the freedom of his homeland.
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The city of Sucre is officially considered the capital of Bolivia, although the government is actually located in La Paz (about 757,000 inhabitants). This city could be considered the highest mountain capital of the world: its airport is located about 4000 meters above sea level, and those who come here are highly recommended to drink tea made from cocaoca for acclimatization.
Bolivia is said to be a beggar sitting on a golden throne. The country is very rich in natural resources – gold and tin – but many indigenous people still live very poorly. Recently among the miners you can often find Russians. Tourist service is not rich, but reliable and surprisingly cheap. The most common routes: La Paz – Lake Titicaca (2 hours), La Paz – the eastern slopes of the Andes (the cities of Koroiko, Guanaya, etc.). In just a few hours you can drive through cold, high mountain deserts where llamas graze, through tropical evergreen forests into the middle relatively dry zone, where banana, pineapple, coca and other crops are planted. There are also many upscale hotels. Boating can take you into the hot Amazon wilderness by river.
Climate and Weather
The peculiarity of the climate of Bolivia is that this country does not have a single complete climatic zone. In the flat areas there is a subequatorial and tropical climate, but in the mountainous areas the weather takes on a sharply continental character. In summer (which in Bolivia is from September to February) air temperature rises to +34 ° C. It rains a lot during this time. In winter (from March to April) in Bolivia is quite comfortable for human temperature – +21 ° C. In the west of the country, on the Altiplano Plateau, the average daily temperature reaches +15 ° C. And the highlands differ from other areas of Bolivia, where the thermometer shows +5 … +11 ° C throughout the year. This country is characterized by very large variations in temperature during the winter.
When choosing a time to travel to Bolivia, you should consider the period from May to October. And most tourists from around the world come to this wonderful country in August.
The majestic mountains, beautiful blue lakes, exotic forests – all this makes Bolivia a beautiful unforgettable country which attracts more and more tourists every year.
Bolivia is a mostly mountainous country. A large part of its territory is located in the Andes. Along the border with Chile are the Western Cordilleras, which include a huge number of active volcanoes. Here is the highest mountain in Bolivia – Sayama, its height reaches more than 6.5 km.
Bolivia is a country not only of high mountains, but also of beautiful blue lakes and rivers. Most tourists when visiting the country visit one of the largest lakes in the entire world, Lake Titicaca. Its area is about 8,500 km².
Many come to Bolivia to see the famous salt lakes. The unique salt lakes attract people not only with their unique views, but also with the opportunity to live for a few days in the only salt hotel in the world.
Beautiful rainforests occupy about 40% of the country. The most common plants are rubber trees, as well as vanilla and saffron. In this country grows one of the most amazing representatives of flora – cow (or milk) tree. The sap of the plant really resembles cow’s milk in color and taste.
When traveling to Bolivia, it is important to plan your itinerary so you can see as many sights as possible. The most famous of them are the magnificent Lake Titicaca, unique salt marshes, as well as a huge number of architectural structures of Inca culture.
When visiting Sucre, the capital of Bolivia, be sure to visit the famous small town of Tarabuco, which has the largest market in the country. Dinosaur lovers must see the Dinosaur-Marc Valley, where a huge number of dinosaur footprints and fossils of other Jurassic animals and plants have been found.
La Paz is known for its unique buildings from the Spanish period. Most of the colonial buildings now house museums that present visitors with exhibits about the history and culture of the inhabitants of the city and country.
The Zongo Valley with its magnificent blue lakes and ice caves is of most interest to tourists. Nearby are the ruins of the most mysterious Andean city, Tiahuanaco, which is known for its unique Gate of the Sun, the pyramid of Acapana. Tourists are especially fascinated by the megalithic masonry located near the southern shore of Lake Titicaca.
Lake Titicaca is the highest body of water in the world. The name of this unique body of water means “stone puma” in Indian. And indeed, if you look at the lake from above, its outline resembles the outline of a puma’s body. Since ancient times, it was considered sacred by the Indians.
Unique salt lake Salar de Uyuni annually gathers a large number of foreign tourists. During the rains, the salt marshes are covered with a thin layer of water, which makes the surface of the lake smooth and mirror-like. It gives the impression that this is the place where the land and sky meet.
The Bolivian cuisine is based on national Indian dishes which have undergone Spanish influence. The main products in cooking are potatoes, corn, and meat. Bolivians mostly eat pork, beef, and poultry and alpaca meat. People in remote villages still cook and eat guinea pigs.
The local population prefers to cook food with a lot of oil. The most common dish in Bolivia is considered… shish kebab. Having tasted this famous dish here, you can doubt who cooks better – Bolivians or Georgians. It is a prerequisite for serving meat dishes with the local spicy sauces “lejahua” and “locotos”.
When visiting local restaurants, the waiters will certainly recommend that you try the national dish “piqué a-lo-macho. This famous food is based on grilled meat served with potatoes and seasoned with tomato and onion sauce. Another famous Bolivian dish is “silpancho,” where steak and eggs are placed on a bed of potatoes and rice.
Quite famous in Bolivia is the unique fruit salad “ensalada de frutas” – small pieces of local juicy fruits are poured with fresh yogurt and honey, and the subtle taste of this salad is given by nuts added to it.
Not a single lunch or dinner in Bolivia can do without the famous Bolivian alcoholic drink “chichi”. It is drunk from small bowls, which have a sloping bottom. This is done to ensure that it was impossible to put the bowl without finishing the chicha. Most tourists, when dining at restaurants, opt for the local beer “Paseña” or “Huare”, which tastes no worse than German or Czech counterparts.
Prices in Bolivian restaurants are quite reasonable. A three-course lunch for two people will cost $10. And in a cheap cafe the same set of products will cost about $ 3.
Hotels and hotels in Bolivia have no official classification. However, hotels that are part of major networks of international tour operators, have their deserved stars. It is worth noting that there are very few five-star hotels in Bolivia, located mainly in Santa Cruz and La Paz.
Before choosing a hotel for a night stay must clarify in advance whether rooms have air conditioning and hot water. Many services in Bolivian hotels are available at extra charge.
Bolivia is known for its original and unique salt hotel Palacio de Sal, which is located in the heart of the Uyuni salt marsh. In this hotel everything is made of salt blocks. To check in there, you need to book rooms months in advance, as this hotel is in high demand among foreigners. The cost of a double room is just over $ 135 per night. In this hotel you can visit the swimming pool with salt water, as well as a hot tub and a Russian sauna.
Entertainment and Recreation
Bolivia offers a variety of unforgettable activities. Many fans of extreme sports, as well as those who prefer a quiet and measured rest will find something to their liking here.
Lovers of active recreation often come here. Eastern slopes of the Andes of this country is considered the best for mountain climbing, trekking and other extreme sports. Very common among tourists are hiking the Inca Trail, which runs through the highlands, as well as biking along the Road of Death.
Those who are into skiing know that this is where the most alpine ski resort in the entire world, Chacaltaya, is located. This place has created about a dozen slopes, which are served by eight elevators. Chacaltaya is considered the most extreme resort in the world, because the local air has a fairly low level of oxygen, which makes it very difficult to move through the local mountains. If you decide to check out the area, the best time to visit it is between April and June.
The architectural monuments of the ancient peoples who inhabited this territory before the Spanish invasion are especially attractive to tourists. Most tourists who come to this original country dream to visit a village of Indian tribes, plunge into their life, and take part in various carnivals and festivals of this unique people. Tour companies are organized by many tours of ancient Indian villages with an opportunity to stay overnight in a traditional dwelling of endangered peoples. Such a tour you will never forget!
One of the most visited places in Bolivia is Lake Titicaca. This high mountain lake with its magnificent scenery is mesmerizing. There are numerous islands on the lake that are open to the public.
The most unusual landscape on the planet is also in Bolivia – it is an unusual salt lake Uyuni with an area of 12,000 km². In some places, the thickness of the layer of rock salt here reaches 10 m. Many people who have come here, recognize this place as the most amazing in the world.
Bolivia is home to the largest zoo in South America. It is located near the town of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. In this place you can see the flora and fauna of South America and all over the world.
When buying souvenirs in Bolivia you may be confused by the great variety of such products. Each nation of this country creates original, unlike anything else. Especially popular among tourists have products made of Bolivian wood, ceramics, local textiles, knitted bags. The peculiarity of all these items is insanely bright colors.
When choosing edibles be sure to get the most delicious chocolate in Sucre. In terms of taste, it can compete even with its famous Swiss brother.
Lovers of trekking can buy in this country outfit known brands of excellent quality, and most importantly, at a very affordable price.
Local stores and retail stores are open from 8:00 to 19:00 with a break for lunch. In the larger towns the tourist hotspot stores are open until late evening, and some supermarkets are open 24 hours a day.
The most common modes of transport in Bolivia are bus and airplane. In general, air travel in this country is excellent, mainly due to the inability to get to some inaccessible places by ground transport. There is an airport in Bolivia in almost every populated area. Domestic flights are provided by several local companies Aerosur, Amaszonas, BoA, GOL, Aerocon and TAM. Prices for domestic flights are quite reasonable, the average cost per flight is about $120. But this country has its own peculiarities of traveling by air. When registering for a flight, you must pay a tax of 15 bolivianos, which is about $3. If you fly to another country in Bolivia the tax increases to $25.
Bus service connects major cities with small villages. The peculiarity of using this mode of transport in Bolivia is that its operation ends after 6:00 pm. In this country you can meet as modern comfortable buses, as well as “prehistoric units. The cost of a bus ride with air conditioning and sanitary facilities lasting up to an hour is $2. Also in Bolivia you can rent a car, the cost of such services for a week will be about $ 400.
The railroads have not gained much popularity in Bolivia, but there are still some routes that may be of great interest to tourists. The most attractive branch of the railroad is the Uyuni-Oruro. The magnificent scenic views from the train window will not leave anyone indifferent.
Surprisingly enough, but communication in Bolivia is quite good. Mobile operators support standards TDMA and GSM 190. They fully cover all the flat areas of the country and the capital. In mountainous areas, mobile communications are present selectively. Local mobile operators support roaming for most major European companies.
Bolivia’s telecommunications system is of a high standard. The national telephone company, ENTEL, provides local calls as well as long distance and international calls. The cost of local calls is quite low, and international calls have a high price. For example, a one minute call to Europe costs more than $1.1, and for a call to North America you have to pay just over $0.5.
Network technology in Bolivia is developing very rapidly. In large cities there are a large number of Internet cafes, the cost per hour of Internet use in such establishments is just over $ 5.
For the most part, Bolivia is considered a safe country for tourists. The biggest crime against foreigners here is fraud. Exercise extreme caution when in crowded places, pickpockets can work here, so always keep a bag with a purse in sight.
As in any country with a tropical climate, there are various infectious diseases in Bolivia, so you should have necessary vaccinations before coming to this country.
In this area it is also better to use bottled water, wash fruits and vegetables purchased at local markets with the same water, even better to brush your teeth with mineral water, in order to avoid various troubles in the form of intestinal diseases.
Speaking of traffic, it is worth mentioning that it defies all logic in Bolivia. It is crazy messy, and any rules are out of the question. So be careful, especially if you decide to drive yourself.
Bolivian real estate market has recently become increasingly interesting for foreigners. In this country there are a lot of proposals for the sale of real estate in the price range up to $ 50,000. For that amount you can buy a fairly large house or apartment in a major city, up to 150 square meters, or a huge plot of fertile land.
Most popular among foreign property buyers are the following provinces: Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and Beni. Despite the increased interest of foreign investors, the purchase of real estate deals are more with the locals.
Bolivian laws have no particular restrictions on the sale of real estate to foreign citizens. Those can, without any problem, take full possession of the local houses and land. In addition, buying property in Bolivia greatly simplifies the process of obtaining a residence permit in this country.
When buying a house in the countryside, be careful with the locals, who are just trying to take some small piece of land of a foreigner, and kicking them out of there is almost impossible.
Tips for the tourist
Before arriving in Bolivia, stock up on a variety of sunscreens and hats, because in this mountainous country the intensity of the sun’s rays is more than 20 times higher than at sea level. Especially careful should be near the alpine Lake Titicaca.
In Bolivia always carry a passport or other identity document, which at any time may be required by local law enforcement officers. Do not be surprised if the police decide to search your hotel room or car. This is quite normal in Bolivia, but beware of them cheating. That is why it is better to invite an outside person to the search.
If you decide to find a particular landmark without a guide, remember that the numbering of houses in Bolivia is in accordance with the order of their construction in the street, so the search for the right house can take all day.
For many tourists visiting Bolivia, the first goal is to try coca. Be careful, the local authorities will not pat you on the head for this. The least you could face is a heavy fine.
Be attentive and respectful to local residents. Take photos and video of locals only with their permission.
It is necessary to obtain a visa to visit Bolivia. It can be applied for directly upon arrival in the country, and the visa validity will be limited to 30 days. You can apply for it in advance at the Bolivian embassy in Moscow.
In order to apply for a visa at the airport you must provide the following documents: passport, one photo, return tickets, proof of sufficient funds for the trip, certificate of vaccination against yellow fever, and tourist card filled out in a foreign language.
For visa registration in the embassy of Bolivia in Moscow you should collect the following documents: passport, valid for at least another six months, application form filled out in English, a color photo, certificate of employment about income for the past year, photocopies of tickets and confirmation of hotel reservations. There are no additional fees for compulsory visa in the Consulate.
You can apply for a visa to Bolivia at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Moscow, Lopukhinsky n.5, 119034.
Overview of Bolivia
Bolivia is located in the central part of the continent of South America. It is one of only two South American countries without an ocean, and the only one where more than half of the population are Quechua and Aymara Indians. The name of this state is a reminder of its dramatic history. Bolivia is named after one of the leaders of the War of Independence of the Spanish colonies in America (1810-1826) – General Simon Bolivar. Popular among the people and among the Creole aristocracy, the troops of the general liberated Venezuela, New Granada (territory of modern Colombia), Ecuador from Spanish domination. Simon Bolivar later led the Republic of Bolivia and drafted the young state’s first constitution.
Overview of Bolivia
The western part of Bolivia lies high in the Andes. Highland air is thin and the climate is quite harsh, but it is here, on the volcanic plateau Altiplano at altitudes from 3300 to 3800 meters live more than half of the country. Bolivia actually has two capitals – the small city of Sucre (named after one of Bolivar’s associates) is the administrative center, and La Paz is where all the business life is concentrated.
La Paz is the only millionaire city on Earth located at an altitude of more than 3,500 meters. Thanks to the inaccessibility of the Altiplano, the Bolivian Indian population was able to avoid the tragic fate of their counterparts from other South American countries at the time of European colonization. Bolivia’s climatic conditions change with altitude. Under the permanently cloudless skies of the highlands it is cool and dry. In the east of the country the climate is subequatorial, humid and warm. Here the Andes give way to the tropical forests of the Amazon lowlands. This area is home to valuable species of trees, such as hebea, mahogany and balsa wood. In southeastern Bolivia begins the Gran Chaco Plain, a vast area of sparse forest, scrub, and dry steppe.
In the Central Andes at an altitude of 3,812 m is the largest alpine lake in the world, Titicaca. A major tributary of the Amazon, the Madeira River, flows through Bolivia. Bolivia is rich in such minerals as tin, zinc, silver, gold, copper, lead, antimony and tungsten. There are deposits of natural gas.
In ancient times, one of the most powerful states of pre-Columbian America, the Tiahuanaco, existed on the territory of Bolivia near Lake Titicaca. In the 14th century these lands became part of the Inca Empire, and two centuries later the Spanish conquistadors arrived here, attracted by the rumors of the richest silver mines of Upper Peru (as Bolivia was then called). In 1825 the troops of Simon Bolivar won a decisive victory over the Spaniards. The country gained independence, but later, as a result of wars with Chile and Paraguay, lost nearly two-thirds of its oil-rich territory.
In the 20th century Bolivia experienced, like many countries in the region, a series of military and government coups and periods of military junta rule. Only in 1982 did a democratically elected government come to power. Most of the country’s inhabitants are of Aymara and Quechua Indian descent, while the rest are of Spanish or mixed ancestry. The official language is Spanish, but the bulk of the population speaks Indian languages. It is believed that 95% of the country’s population is Catholic, but in rural areas Indian beliefs and customs are widespread.
Bolivia today is an agrarian-industrial country with a low standard of living. For the past decades, the state has been “fed” by its rich subsoil. Bolivia is one of the world’s leading mines of tin and zinc. Large deposits of antimony, tungsten, lead, copper, silver, gold, oil and natural gas are developed. Of other industries the food, petroleum refining, and petrochemical industries are of the greatest importance.
Bolivian peasants and farmers grow potatoes (the main food crop in the Altiplano), corn, quinoa (a type of millet), cassava, cocoa beans, sugarcane, pineapple, yucca (from its leaves a coarse fiber). In animal industries pig and sheep breeding prevail, at highlands they breed llamas and alpacas. Crafts are widely spread. They make traditional products from ceramics, wool of llamas and alpacas and yucca fibers.