Bolivia is a country is located in the central region of South America, to the west of Brazil. The country covers a total area of approximately 424,164 square miles and is surrounded on all sides by fives countries: Chile, Peru, Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. Bolivia and Paraguay are the only two landlocked nations in South America. The country has a population size of approximately 11.41 million.
Bolivia has a long history that, according to historical records, dates back to at least 1500 BC. Additionally, the country boasts a diverse geography, which is divided into several ecosystems: tropical savanna, tropical rainforest, the altiplano, arid valleys, and the Andes mountains. Given its interesting history and geographic features, Bolivia is home to several famous tourist sites. This article highlights the 10 most famous tourist attractions in Bolivia.
Top Ten Most Famous Tourist Attractions in Bolivia
Salar de Uyuni
One of the most famous tourist attractions in Bolivia is the Salar de Uyuni, a 4,000-square mile salt flat. At an elevation of 11,995 feet above sea level, the site holds the distinction of being the largest and highest salt flat in the world. The Salar de Uyuni, which is covered in a thin layer of salt, stretches out over an extremely flat surface. Its surface is often covered in a shallow pool of water, and is famous for its reflective abilities.
Lake Titicaca covers an area of 3,232 square miles and sits at an altitude of 12,507 feet, making it both the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable lake in the world. The lake is bordered by Peru and Bolivia, and is dotted with several islands across its surface. Some of the unique islands in Lake Titicaca are known as Uros and are home to indigenous communities. These man-made islands are built of reed and float over Lake Titicaca. Visitors to the lake can also stay with local families on some of the permanent islands.
Madidi National Park
Another famous tourist attraction in Bolivia is Madidi National Park, located in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The park covers 11,779 square miles and offers a number of ecotourism travel packages for adventurous tourists. The park is most famous for its high level of biodiversity. For example, it is home to 1,254 bird species, which represents 14% of all bird species worldwide. Additionally, Madidi National Park is located close to the Manu Biosphere Reserve in Peru, as well as the Apolobamba and Manuripi-Heath areas. Together, these areas make up one of the largest protected natural areas in the world.
Known by many as the most dangerous road in the world, Yungas Road in Bolivia is not for the faint of heart. Adventurous tourists can rent a mountain bike in La Paz, where the Yungas Road begins, and head out on this unpaved path that winds through mountains and along sharp cliffs. The road reaches an elevation of 15,000 feet above sea level and then makes a 4,000-foot drop over approximately 40 miles, as it winds its way into the town of Coroico, near the Amazon rainforest.
The town of Oruro hosts one of the most famous annual Carnival festivals, known locally as Carnaval de Oruro. The celebration is an excellent way to see a wide variety of traditional, pre-colonial era dances, as more than 28,000 dancers and 10,000 musicians parade through the streets. The most famous of these dances is the devil dance, used to begin the festivities. The Carnaval de Oruro lasts for nearly 20 hours and is attended by almost 400,000 individuals.
La Paz is considered the administrative capital of Bolivia and has a population size of 2.3 million across its entire metropolitan area. Located within the Choqueyapu River Canyon, the elevation of La Paz ranges from 10,710 to 13,313 feet above sea level, making this the highest national capital in the world. One of the most popular tourist activities in La Paz is the cable car system, which offers views across the city and of the mountain tops in the distance.
Tiwanaku is located on the southeastern shore of Lake Titicaca. The site is the remains of an ancient civilization, which researchers believe may have given birth to the Incan Empire. The Tiwanaku civilization was most powerful between 600 and 800 AD, when it had a population of as many as 30,000 individuals. Tourists visiting this site can walk among the ruins and imagine life here during the pre-colonial time. Tiwanaku is home to several pyramids, temples, and monuments, although a large portion of the ruins remains unexcavated.
Sajama National Park
Sajama National Park lies to the northwest of the town of Oruro and is the oldest national park in Bolivia. The site is popular with tourists as an excellent hiking and wildlife viewing location. The park covers an area of about 300 square miles and includes lakes, cave paintings, and hot springs. Additionally, Sajama National Park has the highest mountain in the country, Nevado Sajama, and the highest forest in the world. Tourists can also visit Curahuara de Carangas, an old colonial church built of adobe.
Jesuit Missions in Chiquitos
The Jesuit Missions in Chiquitos were established between the 1600s and 1700s by Jesuit priests in what is now the Santa Cruz department of Bolivia. They now include six mission towns, all of which are considered together as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tourists usually spend a full day visiting the towns, learning about how European priests worked to convert local indigenous communities to Catholicism. The most popular of these missions is San Jose de Chiquitos.
Cerro Rico, Potosi
The town of Potosi, located at the foot of the Cerro Rico mountain, was established around the old silver mining industry. Cerro Rico, which means Rich Hill in Spanish, still has a number of old silver mines that can be visited today. The silver from this area has been completely extracted, but the community continues to rely on tin mining. One of the most popular sites to visit here is the Casa Nacional de Moneda, where tourists can learn about the old colonial money minting system.