Bolivia holiday highlights

Nestled in a deep canyon surrounded by craggy peaks, the breathtaking setting of La Paz is dominated by the snow-capped peak of Mount Illimani. Home to more indigenous people than anywhere else in Latin America, Bolivia’s capital is a delightful fusion of modern and traditional. The native Aymarán people have lived in the Andes for over 2000 years and are very proud of their cultural heritage. Aymarán women brighten the bustling streets with their traditional clothing which runs the spectrum of the rainbow.

La Paz’s famous witches’ market is an unmissable spectacle that is ghoulish and fascinating in equal measure. The capital’s old quarter is lined with shops piled high with amulets, potions and herbs that purport to cure every ailment from baldness to infertility. Sorcerers and witches cast spells and sell charms such as lama foetuses (buried under most Bolivian houses) to bring prosperity. Not for the faint-hearted!

The beautiful city of Sucre lies in an elevated valley surrounded by low mountains. Originally a retreat for wealthy figures connected with nearby Potosí’s silver mines, tranquil Sucre has developed into an attractive city boasting a thriving colonial arts scene, excellent museums and the world’s largest collection of dinosaur tracks. At over 15,000 feet above sea level, Potosí is one of world’s highest cities and features beautiful colonial architecture, ornate churches and the famous Royal Mint House (Casa de la Moneda).

The eastern side of the vast and beautiful Lake Titicaca is set on the scenic shores of Bolivia. Traditional Aymarán villages line the scenic shores and the pilgrimage town of Copacabana houses a shrine to Bolivia’s patron saint - the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana. The Bolivian side of the lake also boasts the rugged Sun and Moon Islands which are rich in mythology and home to more than 150 Inca settlements. Explore the cultures of the indigenous people and discover one of the Americas’ oldest civilisations at nearby Tiwanaku.

This dazzling white expanse of the Salar de Uyuni stretches endlessly across the desolate landscape, broken only by a bright blue sky dotted with mountains peaks. This incredible landscape is reputed to contain a staggering 10 billion tons of salt that measure up to ten metres in thickness and 40,000 years ago it was part of a giant lake that dried up and transformed into a modern natural wonder. During the wet season (January to March) a layer of water covers the flat, creating a perfect panoramic reflection of the sky on its shimmering surface.

The Essentials
•   Dress respectably while visiting churches and monasteries.
•   Bolivians have a different concept of personal space than Westerners, so don’t be surprised if they stand closer than you'd expect.
•   Always use a knife and fork while eating – even bananas!

Bolivia key facts

Time difference

GMT -4 hours

Capital

La Paz

Currency

Bolivian Boliviano (BOB)

Flying time to destination

21½ hours. There are no direct flights from the UK.

Language

Spanish, Quechua and Aymara are Bolivia’s official languages. A number of other native languages are also spoken throughout the country.

Passport & visas

No visa required