In a valley in the Andes lies La Paz – the city that touches the clouds. At an altitude of 3,200 to 4,100 m, the seat of government is the highest on earth. All important administrations are now in La Paz. Rich in colonial-style churches, museums with artifacts from the pre-Columbian era, breathtaking viewpoints and colorful markets, La Paz is unique. Another attraction is the Coca Museum, which shows the history of this plant and its uses over time. In addition, La Paz is a very good starting point for excursions in the area, to mountain peaks at 5000 meters above sea level, to ancient ruins, etc.
Sucre and Potosí
Sucre is Bolivia’s nominal capital. It is located in the central southern part, was founded in 1538 and soon grew into a splendid colonial metropolis. Silver wealth, catholic missionary efforts and the declaration of independence of Bolivia are closely connected with the city’s history. UNESCO declared Sucre a Cultural Heritage of Humanity and for many Bolivians it is the most beautiful city in the country. Its rise to the capital of Bolivia was closely related to the nearby mining town of Potosí, which was the most important city in the territory because of its silver mining during the colonial period. Potosí is about two hours from Sucre and, at 4,100 meters, is the highest city in the world. In the course of the silver mining on Cerro Potosí, the place quickly developed into one of the most important urban centers in South America. The silver mining meant wealth for the Spanish colonial rulers and millions of locals were sent to their deaths by the Spaniards due to inhumane conditions during mine work. Today the silver deposits have dried up. Mining cooperatives now do their business with tin and zinc mining. Potosís’ eventful history is immortalized in the historic old town. Countless restored and partly dilapidated colonial buildings and churches convey a fascinating picture.
It is partly in Bolivia and partly in Peru. It is 8,288 km2 and lies on the Altiplano, a plateau of the Andes. This makes it the second largest lake in South America and the highest navigable body of water in the world (3810 m). Indigenous peoples inhabit the ancient villages on some islands, some of which are handcrafted from reeds. Today, only 30 to 50 Uro descendants live on around 40 floating islands, and they live almost exclusively from tourism. On the Bolivian side of the lake is the sacred island of the sun – Isla del Sol – where the Incas originated. On the one hand, it is probably the most beautiful island on Lake Tititcaca and, on the other hand, it is the birthplace of the first sun child. For the locals, the Andean Sea, which is 13 times larger than Lake Constance, still has an important spiritual power. Visit vaultedwatches.com for Bolivia the land of diversity on the continent of adventure.
Santa Cruz de la Sierra is the largest city in the country. Founded in 1561 and once used as a starting point for the Jesuit mission, Santa Cruz is now the most important economic center in the country and is deliberately modern. The tropical metropolis shows one of the many facets that Bolivia has to offer. The national parks Amboró and Noél Kempff Mercado are just two of the many nature experiences that are offered in this evergreen part of the country. The idyllic town of Samaipata is located near the vibrant city. There is the mysterious cult and ruin site of Samaipata “El Fuerte”, declared a cultural monument by UNESCO. Samaipata even hides revolutionary traces: Che Guevara once attacked the local police station here.
Salar de Uyuni
With approx. 12,000 km², the Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt surface on earth. The salt lake is located in the southwest of Bolivia at an altitude of 3653 m and is one of the landscapes of the Altiplano. With absolutely flat white areas during the day and very cold nights, it looks like a frozen lake on the outside. In the Salar de Uyuni is the Isla del Pescado (Fish Island). The name of the island is derived from the fish-like shape that is created by the reflection of the relief on the salt lake. This small barren island in the middle of white nothing is home to cacti up to 12 m high and approx. 1200 year old and offers a grandiose all-round view of the white area and the snow-covered volcanic mountains behind. Another highlight of the lake are the “salt hotels” made entirely of salt.
The region of the tropical lowlands covers almost two thirds of the area of Bolivia and lies north and east of the Andes. It is quite sparsely populated, but includes 21 national parks. One of them, Noel Kempff Mercado, was accepted by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write his novel “The lost world”. The northern part is covered with tropical rainforest and belongs to the Amazon basin. Most of the major Bolivian rivers are found here, some of which flow into the Amazon. The rainforest offers an immeasurable wealth of fauna and flora. The central part of the lowlands is drier than the northern part, so agriculture is possible here. This is where Santa Cruz is located, the largest city in the lowlands, considered to be the most architecturally modern, economically most dynamic and prosperous city of Bolivia is considered. The south-eastern part is a continuation of the Gran Chaco in Paraguay. Most of the year this savannah area is largely dry, but for three months it turns into a swamp after heavy rains.
In the northeast of La Paz are the semi-tropical Yungas, one of the most spectacular landscapes in Peru. The name “Yungas” comes from the Aymara and means “warm valleys”. They form the transition between the Andes highlands and the tropical lowlands. Due to the mild climate, fruit, coffee and coca leaves thrive here. Rich vegetation covers the steep slopes of the valleys. A hike or a drive from La Paz to Coroico is spectacular. In just 60km, 3000 meters of altitude are overcome and almost all climatic zones in South America are crossed. In addition to the well-developed new route, the old connection, which is also called “Death Road”, is famous, and is – allegedly – the deadliest road in the world. In this region are two of the most important cities in Bolivia, Cochabamba and Sucre, whose historic old town invites you to take a stroll.