Monday, October 3

Bolivia in 15 days: a high altitude trip close to the clouds

A trip to Bolivia will take you high. Very high. Near the clouds. You will cross part of the Andean plateau, you will discover the cradle of the Inca culture, you will cross the waters of the highest navigable lake in the world, you will visit World Heritage cities, you will cross the largest salt desert in the world and you will discover “what a Potosí is worth”. And all, if you want, in just two weeks.

A 15-day trip will allow you to visit and get to know some of the most striking places in the country, starting in La Paz, its great city, and passing through enclaves such as the enormous Lake Titicaca and its Isla del Sol, or colonial cities such as Sucre, full of of charm, or Potosí, where you can delve into its Cerro Rico. While Uyuni and its enormous salt flat cannot be missed on a trip in which you will rarely move below 3,500 meters of altitude and that, without a doubt, will leave you wanting to repeat it.

La Paz, the great city of Bolivia

If you arrive in Bolivia by plane, your point of entry will most likely be La Paz. It is located at more than 3,500 meters above sea level, so it is important to bear in mind that you can suffer from altitude sickness or soroche shortly after landing. It is the largest city in Bolivia, although it is not its capital, and its great extension climbing the mountains that surround it can be a bit overwhelming at first sight. However, as soon as you begin to walk the streets of its lively historic center, and after passing through Plaza Murillo and its cathedral, Calle Jaén, the Mercado de las Brujas and the Basilica of San Francisco, your idea of ​​La Paz will change for complete.

In the surroundings of the city, there are interesting things to do as well. One of them can be to visit the Valley of the Moon, to discover amazing landscapes, or go to Tiahuanaco to see the ruins of one of the oldest cultures in South America. Although, if what you want is to live an experience full of adrenaline, then your thing is to head to the Highway of Death to descend by bicycle and for about 60 km along one of the most overwhelming routes you have ever seen.

Copacabana and Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, as its surface is 3,812 meters above sea level. It is big, enormous, and to give you an idea, with its 8,372 km² its extension is greater than, for example, the Community of Madrid. It forms a natural border between Bolivia and Peru and Copacabana will be your destination to visit when you travel from La Paz. This small city on the shores of the lake is a place of pilgrimage, so the Basilica of the Virgin of Copacabana is a place that you may find interesting to visit. Although in reality, what no one wants to miss on Titicaca is the Isla del Sol.

Isla del Sol is considered the cradle of the Inca civilization, so you may want to go to it to get to know it. From Copacabana you can take a boat to Challapampa, in the north of the island, and then walk across it until you reach Yumani, in the south, where you can take a boat back to Copacabana or, if you prefer, stay overnight. . Along this route, in addition to multiple viewpoints, you will pass through various archaeological sites that will remind you that you are in a sacred place of the Inca culture.

Sucre, the white city

Sucre is indeed the capital of Bolivia, but above all it is a colonial city full of charm. Quiet, with a very well preserved historic center that transmits a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere. Here white is the predominant color and it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1991. It is located at 2,810 meters of altitude, the lowest point of our trip, and it shows. It is a city to be walked calmly, in which to walk its streets without haste, stopping in its squares and admiring its many churches. Plaza 25 de Mayo is the soul of the city, where its cathedral is also located.

It is also interesting to get to know the Casa de la Libertad, where the independence of Upper Peru, present-day Bolivia, was signed in 1825, as well as going up to the roofs of the San Felipe Neri temple to admire its views. If you like markets, don’t miss the Central Market, full of activity and color, and if you can go up to the La Recoleta viewpoint to admire Sucre from above. To take home a good gastronomic memory, do not forget to try their salteñas, those of El Patio are some of the best, and surely the juiciness of these empanadas will be something that you will have a hard time forgetting.

Potosí and the silver of its Cerro Rico

Cervantes already said that valuable things “are worth a Potosí”. And yes, this is the Potosí he was referring to. During the 16th and 17th centuries, it was one of the most important cities in the world and the silver that was extracted from the bowels of its Cerro Rico seemed to have no end. Here we are at about 4,090 meters above sea level and, in addition to walking through its streets, we must mark two essential visits on our agenda: the Casa de la Moneda and Cerro Rico itself.

The Potosí Mint, a robust colonial building built between 1759 and 1773, today preserves, converted into a museum, all the machinery in charge of processing the silver that was extracted from the hill. Your visit is essential to understand the greatness that the city reached. And if you want to know the origin of all that money on your own, you can too. All you have to do is sign up for one of the visits that are organized inside the Cerro Rico, where the miners who are in charge of extracting the little silver that already remains inside continue to work tirelessly. Of course, keep in mind that it is a fairly demanding visit not suitable for all audiences.

Uyuni and the immensity of its salt flat

Uyuni could put an end to our 15-day trip through Bolivia and from here we would have two good options: either return to La Paz, from where we could fly back home, or cross to Chile to continue our journey through the desert of attack. We will go to Uyuni to see its salt flat, which is the largest salt desert in the world and is located at more than 3,600 meters above sea level. The landscapes that you will find here are unique, so it is not surprising that it is the main tourist attraction in Bolivia.

To get to know it, the best option is to take an off-road tour through the highlands. There are options that go from three to four days, so if it suits you, you can experience one of the most extreme and spectacular places in the world with even greater intensity. Keep in mind that there are two very different seasons in the salt flat: the dry season in which you will walk on the salt, which runs from May to November, and the rainy season, which is concentrated in January and February and forms a thin layer of water on the salt flat transforming it into a mirror. Since you are in Uyuni, be sure to visit the nearby and striking train cemetery, where old locomotives and wagons show off their rusty skeletons.