I used to have so much fun with my travel buddy Kath writing down our list of to do things in South America: Machu Picchu, partying on Copacabana Beach whilst watching the World Cup, skiing in the Andes. Flying into Lima placed Peru at the start of our trip, but this was our only commitment and after spending a couple of weeks exploring we were free to go wherever we wanted to on the continent. For me one country clearly stood out as offering everything you want from a backpacking destination: Bolivia. Here’s why,
-It’s pretty insane. I am probably one of the most boring people on the planet now and even Bolivia really bought the devil out in me. It’s nuts. If you have something which you really need to get out of your system, go and party it away in one of the crazy hostels La Paz style.
-It has the most varied and stunning landscapes. From Salar de Uyuni to Death Road to Lake Titicaca, I have never experienced so much variation in two weeks. This country is contrasting and exciting, one of the most beautiful in the world.
-Cheapest. I know this is a double edged sword because it is also the poorest and has heartbreaking levels of poverty all over. But backpacking and Bolivia are a match made in absolute heaven, I spent $300 in two weeks and lived really well. It also makes Bolivia the cheapest place to brush up on Spanish skills, lessons literally cost about £2 per hour.
-Culture. The way of life is so different to that back home and mixed within the country. There are around forty indigenous cultures, many of these have different languages and customs which has resulted in highly varied music, fashion, art and cuisine. My favourite was the bowler hats which the Quechua and Aymara women wear, these cholitas are beautiful. Llama foetuses, young boys hiding their faces whilst shining shoes, sacrificing humans when constructing huge buildings, there is just so much going on here.
-The people who I met. From the incredible 70 year old British lady who did our free tour around La Paz, the people who I met in the hostels, the local ladies who sold us the most beautiful clothes in the continent, the people smiling on the streets. I recently read an article which stated that Bolivia was the least welcoming country in the world, I did not find this to be true at all, the people truly made it.