Bolivia is an amazing place to travel. From desert to jungle, from salt plain to alpine lake and everything in between. I have had the good fortune to travel to many places around the globe with my job at Ramblers Worldwide Holidays but I have never come home from my travels feeling like I had seen such a variety of outstanding things in such a short time as when I stepped off the plane back from Bolivia.
I had a week to look at everything we will include in our new 14 day Bolivia Holiday, released in our summer 2015 brochure. My pace was hectic at times, yours will be more relaxed but the experience will be just as intense. As we all travel more sometimes the paces we visit can look and feel familiar, not so for Bolivia.
We start in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, second city of Bolivia, arrival point of flights from Europe and a pleasant relaxed placed to start of holiday. We can relax at our beautiful hotel, enjoy our first Bolivian steak (much better than the mass produced Argentine meat as the locals will tell you) and ease our way into the Bolivian way of life. Next we fly up to Sucre, former capital and one of the best preserved colonial cities in the Americas. At 2500m it has a beautiful climate, springlike through the year and is a lovely town to stroll around to discover hidden nooks and crannies. In the morning in our hotel in Sucre I was woken by the aroma of freshly baking bread. I came out on to the balcony and looked down to see that the hotel freshly bakes all the bread for breakfast in its traditional wood fired bread oven in the hotel courtyard. There can't be many better smells to be awoken by.
From Sucre we continue up into the Andes to Potosi. It is difficult to over emphasise the importance of Potosi and Cerro Rico, The Rich Mountain. It was from this mountain that most of the silver that supported the Spanish empire for 300 years was mined. Without this mine the history of Europe would have been very different. At 4000m we need to take things easy and fortunately we have the most beautiful hotel to relax in - we stay at Hacienda Cayara outside the city. It is a beautifully restored old Spanish hacienda and is a haven of peace and quiet.
Next Uyuni, the world’s largest salt plain, surreal in its enormity and essential to visit. We stay in the Salt Hotel, out on the plains, an iconic building in a lunar landscape.
From Uyuni we fly to la Paz, the highest and surely the most spectacularly located capital city in the world, at 4,000m nestles under Illimani (6438m), the second highest mountain in Bolivia. Famous for its 'witch doctor markets', selling all manner of alternative medical remedies, it is a very different place from the European capitals we are used to.
Finally, another dimension to the Bolivian experience, we spend time on Lake Titicaca, the birth place of the Incan empire, a place of huge spiritual significance to Bolivians and a place of overwhelming natural beauty to everybody else, this is the jewel in the crown of the trip. Take a hydrofoil across the lake to Sun Island, former residence of Incan kings and as beautiful a place as you could hope to find. We walk the island paths, enjoy unrivalled views of the lake and Andes mountain chain behind, stay in the lovely Posada del Inca hotel. It is a place that will live long in the memory and a fitting finale to this holiday of cultural, spiritual physical and culinary delights.