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Bolivia - La Paz - d.a.

From Plaza Murillo we wandered towards the little street of Calle Jaen, which is much hyped by guidebooks. Maybe by La Paz standards this counts as pretty because some of the houses are plastered and painted, but I mean come on. There are plenty of streets just like it, not only on other continents but in South America too, and not only are they not tourist destinations, but people passing generally don’t even notice them.

The afternoon passed, and we decided to have dinner in a place next to the Church of San Francisco, which seemed to be aimed at a cultured clientele. In such an attractive setting, $13 was by no means expensive for a llama steak, especially since the price included a beer – and in this part of the world a beer generally means a pint-sized glass of 600ml or so. God bless whoever came up with this voluminous measure!

Walking back through the streets towards our hotel, another sight caught our eye: Crossing Calle Santa Cruz, known locally as ‘the witches’ street’, the braided, mummified baby llamas struck us as especially bizarre. What purpose these serve for expert practitioners I don’t know, but I don’t recommend them to those with weak stomachs!

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What is the best thing about Bolivia? I think it's the authenticity. There is plenty to explore as it is full of unspoiled areas, and the Amazon region is even home to populations that have never come into contact with civilization.

In my opinion, Bolivia is a country for adventurous travelers. Many people visit this wonderful country as part of longer visits to Peru or Chile, but I think that it’s a very memorable and worthwhile destination.

The biggest attraction is the 12,000 square kilometer salt desert, but the Death Road mountain bike tour, the days spent and conversations with the locals, rafting on a self-made raft in the Amazon, the train cemetery, and the beautiful cities built during the colonial era, including Potosí and Sucre, will remain with me as wonderful memories for the rest of my life. (2022)

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What is the best thing about Bolivia? I think it's the authenticity. There is plenty to explore as it is full of unspoiled areas, and the Amazon region is even home to populations that have never come into contact with civilization.

 

In my opinion, Bolivia is a country for adventurous travelers. Many people visit this wonderful country as part of longer visits to Peru or Chile, but I think that it’s a very memorable and worthwhile destination.

 

The biggest attraction is the 12,000 square kilometer salt desert. Still, the Death Road mountain bike tour, the days spent and conversations with the locals, rafting on a self-made raft in the Amazon, the train cemetery, and the beautiful cities built during the colonial era, including Potosí and Sucre, will remain with me as beautiful memories for the rest of my life. (2022)

 



Practicals

Transport

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Bolivia - La Paz - h.a. photo

Bolivia - a micros (local bus) - s.t. photo

Bolivia - Uyuni - taxis - k.a. photo

Bolivia - winding road (camino sinuoso) - the cross in the background reminds a fatal accident - n.e. photo

Shopping

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Peru - Titicaca Lake - souvenir - Elter photo

Bolivia - coca - h.a. photo

Bolivia - sales of eggs and cheeses - s.n. photo

Public safety

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Bolivia - El Alto - neigborhood watching sign: - if we catch a thief we will inadvertently lynch him - says the cardboard hung around the puppet's neck - s.t. photo

Health

“The natural environment can cause travelers serious discomfort even when they aren’t doing anything, but are just ‘there’. When I arrived by plane in the capital of Bolivia, La Paz, and staggered out into the lobby, I saw a strange shop sign: an oxygen bar! And how much it was needed. I experienced it almost immediately because the airport is precisely 4,075 meters above sea level (the altitude of the city center is ‘only’ about 3,600). I had never been so high before and had no idea what altitude sickness was like. I do now.

I took a taxi to my accommodation, collapsed on the bed, and suffered silently. Hellish headache, shortness of breath, nausea, loss of appetite, sleep disorders (specifically: for two days, I was unable to sleep for more than an hour or two at a time, and I had terrible nonsensical dreams), and a heart rate of a hundred and twenty even when I was lying down. Then, when I went out the next day, on even the slightest incline, I had to stop every five meters. You can't get used to it mentally, but the body adapts quickly.

From the third day on, the symptoms were gone entirely, so by the time we got to Lake Titicaca, I could move about pretty vigorously, even though it was at 3,800 meters. (That reminds me, Titicaca is perhaps the only place on Earth where you can suffer from altitude and sea sickness simultaneously, which I, unfortunately, experienced during a several-hour boat trip.) Afterward, we drove over a 5,000-meter-high pass in the Andes, where I felt nothing incredibly unpleasant. One passenger got a little sick, although I don't think it was from the lack of oxygen, but just from the knowledge that we were so high up.”


Background

Bolivia national flag

Destination in brief

Bolivia is a landlocked country in the central part of South America. Neighbors: Peru, Chile (west), Argentina, Paraguay (south), Brazil (east and north)

Size: 1 099 000 km²  (424 200 mi²)

Capital city: La Paz

Population (in 2020): 11.6 million

Languages: Bolivia has one of the highest numbers of official languages in the world, with 39 languages - but among them three are dominant: Spanish, Aymara and Quechuan

Religions: 94% Christians (predominanty Roman Catholics)

Political system: presidential representative democratic republic

Currency: Bolívian boliviano (BOB)

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 530 USD

Most common surname: Silva


Geography

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Bolivia - Rainbow Mountain

Bolivia - Siloli Desert - v.g. photo

Bolivia - Tupiza - v.g. photo

Bolivia - Lake Titicaca - v.g. photo

Bolivia - La Paz - Valley of the Moon - Elter photo

Nowadays

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Bolivia - La Paz - view - Elter photo

People

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Bolivia - Sucre - ice cream - v.g. photo

Gastronomy

“Many people warned us about Bolivian food. ‘Everyone gets sick in Bolivia! Be careful with street food, water, and pretty much everything!’

Well, we've been traveling to Latin America for nine months now, and we're no strangers to upset stomachs...not a pleasant experience, but sometimes it happens… that’s life..

We did not want these dark predictions to hold us back from our favorite kind of cultural exploration, food!

So we spent a month traveling in Bolivia and visited the country's gastronomic stronghold, Cochabamba – well, it's also famous for having the giantest statue of Christ in Latin America –but back to the food...

Tukumanes is a great breakfast dish. A fresh, warm dough pouch filled with potatoes, vegetables, and sometimes meat or eggs. This is eaten with fresh dressings such as pickles or salad. It's worth looking for the vendors where people have formed a line... it's always worth it.

Saltenas are also a bakery product, but this little black pouch is filled with savory, mean-and-onion-type fillings like a stew or Cornish pasty.

Sopa de Mani is one of the biggest local food hits. This is a kind of peanut soup. Maybe that doesn’t sound too appetizing, but we have to say that after a long day, it’s quite a filling dinner. Unfortunately, we forgot to take a picture, but you have to imagine a cream soup the color of sand.

Oharachka is a very delicious sweet snack – butter biscuits stuck together with a thick caramel sauce. We can highly recommend it with a strong coffee.

Achachiero is one of the most popular local fruits. Nothing special at first glance, but this small fruit with its hard outer skin conceals sweet and soft white flesh. Once you start eating, it's hard to stop.

Barbecue isn’t exactly exotic, but it has to be mentioned because the residents of Cochabamba are very proud of it. You can find countless small restaurants with few choices, just pork, duck, or chicken, all fresh from the grill with simple side dishes. Delicious!

So, we hope we managed to instill a little confidence in Bolivia’s culinary culture, and if you've ever been mistaken about this, you won't just restrict yourself to just canned food and pasta when here in the future.” (2019)


Attractions

Sucre

Bolivia - Sucre - v.g. photo

Bolivia - Sucre - pretty public building - s.n. photo

Bolivia - Sucre from above - s.n. photo

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