Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat and an incredible feat of nature, situated in the middle of the desert in South West Bolivia.
You can travel to the flats by jeep from Uyuni, stopping off at the Salt Hotel, which, incredibly, is made almost entirely from salt. The view of the flats is absolutely beautiful on a clear day following rain, with the heavenly panorama of salt becoming a mirror, reflecting the colors of the sky.
The Salar de Uyuni was created when a prehistoric lake dried and left a salty crust behind; in places you can see large molehills of salt and hexagonal-shaped cracks, which change color as the sun rises and falls.
Bolivia’s largest city is a thriving small-town city with a quiet buzz, combining traditional Bolivian culture with a diverse population of immigrants from all over the world.
The city is home to the lush Plaza 24 de Septiembre, where you can watch Camba bands playing tropical rhythms in front of a beautiful old church; if you enjoy nature, Biocentro Guembe has a butterfly farm and orchid exhibition, with opportunities to fish and trek in a nearby forest.
At night you should explore Santa Cruz’s fantastic bars and restaurants, which decorate the narrow side streets, providing an opportunity to try Bolivian cuisine, like Chichi, a fermented corn drink, and Majao, a rice dish with fried bananas and egg.
La Paz is a remarkable city which, being nestled at 3500m above sea level in a deep canyon of Mount Illimani, provides a jaw-dropping view. Combining winding church spires with high-rise tower blocks, the streets are a manic melting pot of indigenous and cosmopolitan culture.
The Plaza San Francisco is filled with bustling market traders, with the Witches’ Market providing a true attack on the senses, combining the truly weird and wonderful - dried llama fetuses, frogs, herbs and snakes, used to call on spirits of the Aymara world.
For an exhilarating day out, you can trek beneath Mt Illimani through some of the most beautiful scenery in Bolivia.
Further afield is the Tiwanaku, Bolivia’s most impressive archaeological site, which houses some amazing temples and monoliths.
Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest and most stunning navigable lake, combining a shimmering plane of navy-blue water set against the crisp-white Andes. According to Andean legend, the lake gave birth to the sun, as well as the father and mother of all the Incas.
Exploring Lake Titicaca from Puno gives you an opportunity to combine some outdoor exploration with city culture. You can visit the floating Islas Flotantes or explore the Isla Taquile, a fascinating time capsule of preserved Bolivian culture.
In Puno, the Coca Museum gives a fascinating history of the coca leaf, which forms an important part of religious cosmology, while also being used by locals to help with altitude sickness and ill-health.
White City of Sucre
The White City of Sucre is a beautiful old town, with every building painted white and topped with terracotta roofs, giving a real sense of simplicity and purity.
When you’re not spending time perusing the beautiful side streets, sipping coffee and watching the world go by, head to the Museum of Indigenous Art for some amazing authentic work, or Parque Cretacico for some incredible dinosaur fossils and remains.
Bolivia is an encapsulating blend of the old and modern, combining rich tradition, colonial influences and some of the world’s most stunning scenery; I really recommend you take a look yourself.
(Photo by auldhippo via Flickr)