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Bolivia Superlative

South America is simply superlative, and Bolivia is just one of its many superlative jewels. Bolivia is the hemisphere’s highest, most isolated and most rugged nation. It’s among the earth’s coldest, warmest, windiest and steamiest spots. It boasts among the driest, saltiest and swampiest natural landscapes in the world. It is he poorest country in South America, it’s also one of the richest in terms of natural resources. It’s also South America’s most indigenous country, with over 60% of the population claiming indigenous heritage. Bolivia has it all…except, that is, for beaches, but I love mountains and if you love mountains this place boast the most majestic rooftops in the world. 

This landlocked country boasts the soaring peaks of the Cordillera Real around Sorata and the hallucinogenic salt flats of Uyuni, the steamy jungles of the Amazon Basin and wildlife-rich grasslands of the Southeast. Unparalleled beauty is also reflected in its vibrant indigenous cultures, colonial cities such as Sucre and Potosí, and whispers of ancient civilizations. This is exactly what attracts me plus explorers with the right travel mind-set. Bolivia has opportunities for cultural and adventure activities and off-the-beaten-path exploration. I note that most travelers stick to the well-worn paths and typically don’t see South America; they only see the tourist areas. 

I can tell you there’s plenty to be found elsewhere, including the tropical east and the lowland regions in the south.

To immerse in South American culture and history; Bolivia is where all things started. It is widely believed that he starting point of culture came from Bolivia. Nearly a millennium before the Incas, a very sophisticated civilization flourished on the west bank of lake Titicaca of modern-day Bolivia: the Tiwanaku culture, between 500 and 900 AD. Tiwanaku is situated the heart of the high plains of the Altiplano, It was here where the Andean culture flourished, first through the Tiwanaku culture and, much later, the Inca civilization.

I have come to realise most important of all Bolivia facts is that the country epitomizes the authentic South America, more than any other country in the fourth largest continent. For me this is the real South America. This is what I expected South America to be. 

One of the poorest and under-developed countries in the region, it has all the ingredients that define South America as a whole: rugged mountain terrain, the supreme beauty of the Altiplano and 
the purest Amazon rainforest environments and the majority of its population represents the true blood of South America: Quechua, Aymara and Guaraní.

In fact, out of the total 10 million inhabitants, 30% are of Quechua ancestry, 30% mestizo, 25 % Aymara and 15% of white or European extraction.

Bloivia is a country of great beauty, stunning landscapes, and unique attractions. No other country I’ve been on earth has such a myriad of dazzling natural beauty that are so unique.

La Paz where I live is the highest capital city in the world, known as the city above the clouds sitting 4000 meters. La Paz is a great introduction to the diversity of Bolivia. A picturesque city set in a valley surrounded by snow-capped peaks. This bustling metropolis provides top notch cuisine, some amazing food markets, tasty local grown fruits and the biggest and best avocadoes I have tasted. Recently I have discovered many exceptional restaurants, where you can experience some fine foods for less than 15US$
La Paz boasts giant markets, streets and streets of markets, crazy traffic (best example of a self organizing system it flows and works, impressive architecture, ornate churches, the down side 98% catholic, but I wont go there (I fucking hate religion).


Bolivia has the Amozon. Most people automatically think Brazil when contemplating this world famous site, but parts of the jungle can be visited in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Bolivia. Two options are available in Bolivia, jungle tours and pampas tours, both based out of Rurrenabaque and Madidi National Park. I have sailed down the rivers in a dug-out canoe, with literally hundreds of alligators, crocodiles, turtles, monkeys, pink dolphins, capybaras, and an abundant species of birds all around. Envision piranha fishing, swimming with the dolphins, hiking around the jungle in search of the largest snake in the world, the anaconda.


Wake up to the sounds of howler monkeys and the cacophony of jungle sounds. A truly unique place in the world that permits travelers to get up close and personal with a myriad of wildlife. Tour as I do down death road stay in an animal refuge and witness, as I have, baby monkey playing while giant humming birds feed from fragrant vibrant yellow flowers.

Bolivia also boasts the highest Salt Flats on the planet The highest and largest in the world, the Salt Flats are a wonder like no other. Bright white stretching as far as the eye can see, contrasting with the deep blue skies, offers a scene that simply doesn’t look, seem, or feel real. It truly is an amazingly beautiful scenery where you can do all sorts of trick photography on a brilliant white back drop. February the flats can be coated with a thin layer of water creating an amazing mirror effect. The sky is reflected on the surface giving the impression you are driving through the clouds. The area has other-worldly landscapes that await you on your indescribable jeep trip through scenes out of a fantasy land. Red and green colored lagoons, pink flamingos and other unique wildlife, geysers, volcanoes, and geothermal wonders mountains, bizarre rock formations, and the feeling of being on the moon are just a sampling of the highlights.

There are so many sights to see in a country as beautiful as Bolivia. Get out of your comfort zones, don’t worry about the coffee, challenge yourself and push yourself to do something that is not westernised, homogenises, pasteurised, sanitised, and criticised. 

 

mark-lapaz-tour-guide

Contributed By Mark Symons

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mark-lapaz-tour-guide

Contributed By Mark Symons