Bolivia has always been a highlight of my South American Journey. The country-side itself is absolutely stunning, housing some of the largest mountains in the Andes as well as the world’s largest high altitude lake. It is bursting with history including both the storied Tiwanaku and Incan civilizations. From these it has developed a culture so distinct you could not miss it if you tried. If you are considering taking a trip to Bolivia, here are 5 reasons to help you make your decision.
1. It’s Cheap!
That’s right, if you’re looking to spend some time in South America rather than your money, you should consider stopping by Bolivia. If you’re a backpacker on a budget like myself then you will likely find some beautiful reprieve here. You can grab meals at restaurants anywhere between $2.50 and $10.00, and a 1.5 litre bottle of water costs only $1.00. To stay in a 4 star hotel you would not pay more than $35.00 a night and you would not believe how far $10.00 will take you in a taxi. Bolivia is great, there is so much to see and do. The people are lovely, and everything can be enjoyed at a relatively low cost!
2. The Markets are Amazing!
The market in La Paz, Bolivia contains one of my favorite markets in all of South America! Cruising through the winding and narrow streets of the Witches Market, with its colorful buildings packed with everything from alpaca sweaters to curious herbs and magical offerings is forever entertaining. The ‘witches’ stalls harbor everything from dried llama fetus’s to magical candles and give a little insight into the curious superstitions of the Bolivian people. The shops are commonly manned by Bolivian women dressed in their traditional garb and are packed full of colourful clothes, beautiful art and other knick-knacks for your perusing purposes. All this mixed in with multiple food vendors and people selling things like jewelry on the street are what make all the markets in Bolivia just so much fun. If you’re looking for anything else from shoes to toiletries to phones, pens, paper, e.c.t. you can find these within the markets as well. Again, a dollar goes much further here. It does not matter where you go in Bolivia, you will most definitely be blessed with fabulous markets.
3. Uyuni Salt Flats!
Listed as one of those places you ‘never thought existed’, the salt flats of Uyuni will leave every traveler speechless. This 3-5 day tour through the dessert, past frozen lagoons, saturated with pink flamingos and across one of the biggest salt flats in the world is possibly one of the most iconic tours South America has to offer, and should be on your Bolivian itinerary. You know, the sweet perspective photos people take, with their friends standing on their hands or battling a giant llama, or the epic water reflection and the classic 4×4 jeep surrounded by vast nothingness…yes, this is Uyuni. Expect to get dirty. Expect to spend a night in a hotel made completely out of salt and expect to have a blast.
4. Learn Spanish!
The Spanish spoken in Bolivia is of the best you will find in Latin America. It is considered well spoken, enunciated, and slow paced making it a great place to learn Spanish. If you’re looking to enjoy some Spanish lessons, enroll in Spanish school or even do a homestay with a family then you should definitely consider Bolivia a viable option. Not to mention, the low cost of everything here makes both the lessons and the cost of living more affordable. Bolivia is a great place to settle down and do a little learning.
5. Bolivia is packed full of History!
Bolivia is a country bursting with culture and history. Similar to Peru, some of the largest Tiwanaku (pre-Inca) ruins are found in Bolivia. There are archeological sites, restored ruins and many museums here waiting for your exploration. You can also find ruins of the Incas and other groups of inhabitants spread around the country. The culture within Bolivia is also very front and center. So many of its people are still wearing their traditional clothing complete with the classic Bowler hat placed on their heads at a jaunty angle. Their babies and goods are carried in the historic manner utilizing a very colorful blanket that is folded to hold everything and slung on their backs. The traditions and superstitions are commonly practiced by the old and young alike. If you are looking for a destination where you can easily get in touch with its history then Bolivia is a great place to go.