My time in Bolivia, by Helene Cooper

For the outdoor lover, view nothing quite beats a trip to Bolivia. During my time there I had ample opportunity to trek, mountain bike and jeep across beautiful mountainous terrain. Not only was this a thrilling expedition, but the scenery on offer was spectacular too.

Bolivia is split into two regions, the Amazonas and the Altiplano, with the Yungas (cloud forest) situated at the heart of both. For a breath-taking adventure off-the-beaten-track, surrounded by some of the world’s most stunning natural beauty, there really is no better place.

On your travels, there are a few destinations that I believe truly make this trip worthwhile and memorable. From the salt pans of Salar de Uyuni and high lakes and mountains, including the world-famous Lake Titicaca, to glorious jungle scenery, Bolivia has it all.

hiking in Bolivia

La Paz

The capital of Bolivia is a spectacle to behold. Located 11,975 feet above sea level and home to buildings that graze the walls of the canyon, it is a wonderful place to immerse yourself in. You can enter the city via the sparse flat plains of El Alto, a route I would strongly recommend as the view of La Paz in the valley below is incredible, especially with the backdrop of the snow-capped Mount Illimani.

La Paz is a place of quirky beauty with many faces; a truly welcoming city to visit – you can chat to locals in thriving cafés selling beautiful local coffee, experience the lively markets and be engrossed by wondrous museum exhibitions.

Salar de Uyuni

Visiting the stunning salt pans of the high Altiplano is a calming and pleasurable experience; often left to its own devices, Salar de Uyuni is rarely visited by tourists, leaving you to take in the views of this wondrous area of natural beauty practically on your own.

The Uyuni Salt Flat is the biggest of all the salt flats, covering 10,583 Km2. The beauty of this white sea of salt lakes is made more incredible by a backdrop of mountains gracing the horizon. Enjoy the view in a moment of silence; it is a truly tranquil experience which will completely captivate you.

In Salar de Uyuni you can even find hotels built and furnished entirely from salt bricks – this is something you really have to see with your own eyes.

Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake, and South America’s largest, is one of the most sacred places in Peru and Bolivia. Home to floating houses of the Uros people, it is one of fewer than twenty ancient lakes on earth believed to be a million years old. The scenery across the north-eastern shore is mesmerising, with the snowy Cordillera Real providing an idyllic backdrop; on this shore the mountain peaks can rise to heights higher than 21,000 feet, some of the highest in the Andes.

It is also a place of architectural significance, making Lake Titicaca one of the most sacred places in South America. The Isla del Sol shows clear evidence of the previous residence of the Inca, Colla, Lupaka, Pukara and Tiwanaku societies. From its waters, the Inca civilisation and Empire have thrived.

Bolivia is a place of natural beauty a country I’m so glad to have visited. Its historical and cultural surroundings continue to amaze me, leading me in my journey towards to the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, where I can really get to grips with what the Inca civilisation has left behind for us to discover.

Helene Cooper of Imaginative Traveller regularly writes about her travels across South America and the globe.

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