Where to go

La Paz and surroundings

La Paz is a frequent point of arrival for visitors to Bolivia, either by air or overland from Peru. The city combines spectacular views, endless street markets, interesting museums, and popular dining and nightlife. It is also a transport hub providing access to attractions in the surrounding highlands. These include Bolivia's best-known archaeological site at Tiahuanaco, and not-to-be-missed Lake Titicaca. Many people enjoy the lake from the popular resort of Copacabana and timeless Isla del Sol, but you can also sail on its azure- blue waters on tourist vessels or head for the less-visited northeast shore. La Paz is also the start of the adrenalin-fuelled bike ride down 'the world's most dangerous road'. It leads to Coroico and the surrounding subtropical Yungas, and the area is well worth visiting for a couple of days. Also reached from La Paz is the trekking and climbing centre of Sorata and, further afield, the mountain wilderness of the Cordillera Apolobamba.

The salar and coloured lakes

In the southwest of Bolivia lies an impressive and bizarre natural beauty. The 10,000 sq-km salt-flats of the Salar de Uyuni are one of the country's main attractions and tours here usually include Reserva Eduardo Avaroa, home to multicoloured lakes, geysers, vicuñas and flamingos. The town of Uyuni is a common access point, but a more laid-back alternative is Tupiza, surrounded by spectacular canyon- lands worth exploring in their own right.

Santa Cruz and the Jesuit missions

Santa Cruz is the jumping-off point for the famous Jesuit missions circuit, as well as providing access to the delightful upland resort of Samaipata and nearby Parque Nacional Amboró. Also accessed from Santa Cruz, but much more remote, is Parque Nacional Noel Kempff Mercado, a lost world of jungle plateaux and waterfalls.

Rurrenabaque and the Amazon

This small town, reached by air or a long and difficult bus ride from La Paz, is the most important access point to several world- famous national parks and lodges in the Bolivian Amazon. Rurre receives many visitors yet it lies at the very edge of the immense northern jungle region, which is mostly untouristed and merits a trip all of its own.

Cochabamba, Sucre, Potosí, Tarija

In the central and southern highlands, Cochabamba and Sucre are popular places to study Spanish or do a stint of volunteer work, while Potosí's legendary mines and colonial mint attract a steady stream of visitors. Tarija is an especially friendly place that offers the best fruit, wine and brandy in Bolivia.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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