Bolivia is home to some of the most diverse landscapes on earth. From soaring mountain ranges to vast salt flats, flourishing grasslands and vivid jungles – the only thing this landlocked country lacks is beaches.
Given the landscape, it's no wonder that Bolivia happens to be one of the number one adventure destinations on a trip around South America. But, if you choose a dodgy tour operator and skimp on the cash to enjoy the salt flats or death road, you could be in a lot more trouble than you bargained for. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy your adventures.
The mountainous region of Bolivia is popular among climbers and trekkers, but it's tough terrain and most suited to the experienced. Each year there are countless injuries and occasional deaths, so take it seriously. The weather is challenging too – sweltering in the day and freezing at night (depending on the time of year), so make sure you have all the right gear and do your research around the time you'll be there.
There are primarily two seasons in Bolivia – the dry season runs from May–October, the wet season is from November–April. The coldest months are between June–September, and wettest months are from December–March. For the best climate, visit the salt flats between July and October, or for a chance to see the wet flats visit between March and April.
If you decide to give mountain biking a go (especially for those of you eyeing off Death Road), be sure that the bicycle you use is well maintained, lots aren't! It's a good idea to test the breaks, and make sure those tyres are pumped up. Don't even think about riding off without a helmet.
Speaking of maintenance and standards, try to pick a reputable tour company with well-trained guides, appropriate safety equipment, a first-aid kit, and do your research on reviews online – those who've experienced it will always know best!
Another "adventure" that's growing in popularity is touring the San Pedro prison located in La Paz. This is no history tour. It's a working prison which houses some of the country's most dangerous criminals – it's overcrowded and the conditions are poor.
Tourists pay a fee to experience the "underworld' of the inmates. It's important to note that these tours are illegal, and can be extremely dangerous. The prisoners have established their own society, which operates under their own rules.
The only guards are stationed outside the prison, so entrance and travel within the facility are not protected and extremely risky. As exciting and intriguing as it may seem, you're advised not to participate.
For beautifully diverse and fascinating landscapes, interesting cultural discovery and friendly, welcoming people, Bolivia has it all. Choose your tour group wisely, and you'll enjoy your time on the salt flats, wandering through the streets of the witch markets, and crossing borders between Peru and Chile.
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