By Robbie Woods
I’d like to think we’re beginning a journey together, right here, right now.
Over the next 50 weeks, Travel Agent Musings is going to profile 50 different countries. Every Wednesday, we’ll be visitng a new destination. Of each, we will ask: what makes this place unique?
Some of our ports-of-call will be familiar; others unheard of. Some may even beckon you to make a real-life pilgramage. All will be beautiful in their own way.
On the internet, they say a journey of 1000 gigabytes begins with a single key stroke. So let’s get going!
In order to choose our point of departure, I used the time-honoured method of throwing a dart at a map. The first 7 tries, I hit the ocean. But on the 8th, I hit…
Language: Spanish; 37 native languages
Bolivia gained its independence from Spain in 1825.
It took its name from Simón Bolívar, the Venezuelan soldier and politician who fought for the independence of South American countries from their colonial masters.
Bolivia’s early history was punctuated by intrigues and coups, but the political situation has stabilized considerably since the 1980s.
Although the country still faces many challenges (particularly poverty) Bolivia is now a democracy.
Do you like mountains? Bolivia has mountains. Many, many mountains.
It is not uncommon for visitors to experience altitude sickness, as much of the country is between 1,500 and 4,000 metres above sea level.
Bolivia is home to Lake Titicaca – the largest lake in South America, and one of the highest in the world. At its surface, it is 3,812 m above sea level.
It is also the home of the Death Road, which is about as harrowing as it sounds.
The death road is a popular mountain biking route from La Paz (4,500 m) down to Coroico (1,200 m)
Originally, this winding 60 km mounatin road was no wider than 3 m, feautured 600 m drop-offs, and had no guard rails. There have since been “improvements”.
The journey offers stunning views, and a glimpse into Bolivia’s biodiversity, but it comes at a cost. At least 18 riders have died making this journey since 1998.
In spite of, or perhaps because of, the danger, the Death Road is a very popular destination for cyclists.
But if danger isn’t exactly your middle name, there is still much to discover in Bolivia off the beaten path.
Make sure to bring sun screen: at these elevations, the sun’s UV rays can be up to 20 times as powerful as at sea level.
Bolivia is the only country in the Americas where the majority of people (68%) self-identify as indigenous.