Despite travelling most of my life, one of the most undiscovered continents for me is South America, and I was lucky enough to experience the flavours and cultures on a recent trip to Bolivia
The trip from the UK was a long one, taking over 24 hours and 4 flights via Dallas, Miami and La Paz to reach our destination. I was amazed at the steep and sprawling capital of La Paz, clinging on to the hillside as we flew our last leg, and followed the mountain glaciers and snow capped mountains all the way.
Cochabamba was our base for the trip to meet the future in laws. Known as ‘The city of eternal spring’, The streets were filled with colourful and rustic buildings.
We spent many lazy days people watching, catching truffies (shared taxis), shopping at local markets and enjoying a beer at sunset.
I really enjoyed a visit to the Simon Patino Museum, which was once home to a tin baron and was furnished with ornamental doors, statues, and rich Italian furniture.
Inside the museum was an exhibition by textile designer Sandra Deberduccy I loved the rainbow of colours with a Bolivian influence. Yarns were displayed around tubes and looked very effective (I was in heaven)
Our next port of call was the first capital of Bolivia, Sucre, which was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century where white washed colonial buildings are scattered in a valley.
We based ourselves in a lovely hideaway called the Hostel du Merced A true gem where we could come back after a long day and enjoy the sunset on the terrace.
Whilst in Sucre we took a trip to see a large collection of dinosaur prints and explored the surrounding area enjoying mountain treks and plunging in the natural waterfalls
Our next base was the sprawling metropolis of La Paz. From here we took a 7 hour round trip journey by local bus and a boat ferry across to Copocabana. A long and exhausting day close to the border of Peru, but one I won’t forget.
The small square was crammed with taxis being blessed with flowers and ribbons, and is host to a 16th century shrine and basilica. Although very touristy, this was a good hub to tour Lake Titicaca which is a mountain lake in the Andes on the border of Bolivia and Peru (and often called the highest navigable lake in the world at 12,500ft) We visited a nearby sacred Inca island called Isla del Sol with ruins, lamas and a scattering of market stalls.
Our last day was spent seeing the ruins in the ancient pre Columbian city of Tiwanaku 70kms west of La Paz close to the shore of Lake Titicaca.
A Unesco world heritage site, it houses many weird and wonderful Inca ruins dating back to 900AD and includes temples, symbolic gates and mysterious carvings of strange faces.
I loved my journey through Bolivia and certainly can’t wait to explore neighbouring Chile and Peru. My preconception nerves about travelling in South America surviving the high altitude, drug barons and kidnappings were soon dissolved.
This country was full of culture, vintage VW Beetles history and smiles. If you’re looking for adventure this is the place to go.