When planning my trip to South America, somehow Bolivia was ranked number one. I was the most excited for this landlocked country that spans three key terrains, including, the Andes mountains, the Atacama Desert, and the Amazon Basin rainforest. I had read stories and blog posts that did not make Bolivia stand out more than any other South American country, yet this place intrigued me. When I arrived, I was more than in awe. And, in retrospect, to me, it stood out amongst its neighbors. With this in mind, I thought I would showcase the beauty of Bolivia in pictures.
I, recently, wrote a post displaying the beauty of Ecuador in pictures, and I realized this is how I look for travel inspiration. I use pictures of places to spark my imagination and envision my trips.
Here is a collection of my favorite picture from Bolivia.
Salar de Uyuni
We pulled up to a deserted area. It looked like nothing. Edgar said “just follow the trail.” We continued to walk, and, then, there it was, all of a sudden, this beautiful black lake. There was nobody around. Just total emptiness. We sat there and just appreciated the stillness.
The lake itself is not really black, but rather a deep blue. It gives the impression of being black, and all the birds that live in this march are black. This was, for me, the best part of my trip to Salar de Uyuni.
Beautiful, yet Deadly
Laguna Verde or Green Lake is located in the south of Bolivia near the Chilean border. Its unique green color comes from various mineral deposits, such as Arsenic. So, while the lake is beautiful, I could not get much closer because of the toxicity! There are stones set up to mark the perimeter and guides refuse to leave the car…sometimes the most beautiful of things are the most dangerous.
The Air Stings
The south of Bolivia has a number of volcanoes, and with these come geysers. Every few minutes steam shoots into the air. The unpredictable nature of the eruptions, combined with the pools of liquid that are a mix of water and sulfuric acid, makes this area quite dangerous. I could only spend a few minutes out of the car because the air was so acidic that my eyes burned. Beautiful, but, again, dangerous!
Salar de Chalviri
During the trip to Salar De Uyuni we visited several smaller salt flats. The one shown here is called Salar de Chalviri. The area is also surrounded by volcanos, and there are several hot springs for swimming.
Since we were over 4000m, I skipped swimming in the boiling water and decided to walk around. I found small streams, leading to a larger lake, coated in varying shades of green algae.
Lichen-covered rocks are found throughout the southwest of Bolivia. This bright green stood out amongst the dry red rock formations, showing there was still life among the dryness. I, originally, thought it was just some kind of moss. However, after some quick research, I discovered that it is lichen, which is created via the symbiotic relationship between algae and fungus.
Salar de Uyuni
Final destination, Salar de Uyuni. The white seemed to stretch for miles, just endless, and the reflection of the sun on the salt flats was powerful.
I was quite excited to take my typical salt flat illusion photo. Perhaps it was a bit cheesy but still cool. This photo is me ‘walking across my boot laces.” It is, for sure, not the most authentic, but it was certainly fun!
The Devil’s Door (Tupiza)
Tupiza is Bolivia’s wild wild west. Legend has it that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid met their end here in Tupiza. I was more, however, drawn to its dramatic red landscapes and jagged rock formations.
The Devil’s Door, shown here, was one of the most pronounced rock formations. While I did not get the full history of the Devil’s Door, I noticed that when there is a large landmark made by nature, it is given a name associated with the Devil (usually Devil’s Door or Devil’s Throat). This theme was consistent throughout my 4 months in South America.
Street Art in Tarija
Tarija is a quiet town in the south of Bolivia. It is best known for its wine…which I found surprising. I ended up there by accident when a blockade prevented me from going to Tupiza. I spent two days wandering the streets and stumbled upon this piece of street art. On a quick glance it looks like just a piece of typical street art.
The message is, however, powerful. Vivas nos queremos means we want to live. It is a statement against violence towards women. While proclamations like this have appeared all over the world, I am realizing, in retrospect, the importance of this statement in Bolivia. I spoke with several women during my 4 months in South America and listened to their stories. I heard a consistent wanting to escape, and, with each encounter, I was left speechless.
La Recoleta is one of the miradors in Sucre (aka La Ciudad Blanca or White City). Here there are vendors selling crafts with various cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy something to eat or drink while profiting from the beautiful views. Locals and tourists alike come here throughout the day.
I hiked to La Recoleta early and the morning and had the place nearly to myself. While the views over Sucre were wonderful, I found the flowering Jacaranda trees were a colorful addition to the white buildings.
Beauty at the Cemetery
It might seem grim to visit a cemetery, but Sucre’s cemetery is far from this. It’s a uniquely beautiful place. Rather than headstones, as we see in Europe or the USA, shadow boxes are used to hold photos, toys, flowers, and candles. Freshly cut flowers are found throughout the cemetery, and the landscape is well maintained. At the end of my visit, I had the impression that this was a place to celebrate life rather than mourn the loss of a loved one.
Hike to Maragua Crater
Remanence of Spanish Rule
The Spanish arrived in Bolivia looking for gold and riches in the early 1500s. Over the next 300 years, Bolivia – and its indigenous inhabitants – was prolifically exploited. Their independence was finally won in 1824, initiating the beginning of the end of Spanish rule in the region.
Interestingly, the influence, particularly on architecture, still remains in Bolivia. Here in the small town of Chaunaca, a single door attached to an abandoned house shows the Spanish had control even in the most remote of places.
Hiking in Bolivia is truly a rewarding experience. I was greeted with magnificent untouched landscapes. The hike to Maragua Crater was painted with red, blue, and green mountains.
This picture was my favorite. As I turned the corner, I saw this mixture of limestone and sand canvas. As if someone had painted a mountain and laid grass and moss delicately over the top.
Hand Woven Textiles
In Maragua Crater, and throughout Bolivia, women weave beautiful tapestries, such as the one shown in the photo. Jalq’a (or two colors) weavings are made from sheep wool dyed black and red.
This textile tradition depicts animals with wildly exaggerated features shown alongside mythical creatures. The design is not predetermined but developed as they work. It can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to weave a medium-sized tapestry.
Located in Ninu Mayu, a very remote part of Bolivia is an incredible dinosaur footprint site. In fact, in this region of Bolivia, there are quite a few sites with dinosaur footprints, however, most of them remain uncovered as to not disturb the communities and nature.
It was clear from the variety of footprints that numerous species had once roamed these lands.
Around La Paz
Chacaltaya is lies in the Cordillera Real at 5421m. This mountain now serves as a day hike from La Paz, but at one moment this entire area was covered in a glacier that was nearly 18,000 years old. Due to due global warming, the glacier completely disappeared in 2009.
While the scenery is stunning, it is a reminder of the dramatic changes that are happening to our environment. Bolivia is not the only victim, as this was a consistent observation during my 4 months in South America.
Valley of the Moon
Valley of the Moon (Valle de la Luna) is a maze of canyons outside La Paz. The formations are composed mainly of clay and sandstone, and were created by the persistent erosion of mountains. The name “Valley of the Moon” actually comes from a comment made by astronaut Neil Armstrong, who said that the formations reminded him of lunar landscapes.
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake at 3812m situated on the border of Bolivia and Peru. There are numerous islands on the lake, each with a different cultural significance. Isla del Sol, for example, is thought to be the place where the Inca’s sun god was born. Additionally, this area of Bolivia is home to various archaeological findings, including an underwater temple that was discovered in 2000.
I spent a day in Copacabana, the town on Lake Titicaca, exploring the area. I hiked to the viewpoint to get this picture. I wanted to visit the islands, but strikes and blockades made it complicated.
Summary of Bolivia in Pictures
My goal in this post was to demonstrate the beauty of Bolivia in pictures. I hope you were able to get a quick glimpse of Bolivia through my pictures and appreciate the beauty this country has to offer. After 3 weeks of traveling around Bolivia, I wanted to extend my stay to see the Amazon and visit some smaller villages. However, I was there during the 2019 elections, and, as you may know, it became very volatile and I was advised to leave.
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Read More About My Adventures in South America
Hope you enjoyed my post on the beauty of Bolivia in pictures. Here are some of my other adventures in South America!
- Climbing Chachani: Peru’s 6000m Volcano
- Trekking to Ciudad Perdida: Colombia’s Lost City
- Searching for Dinosaur Footprints: Hike to Maragua Crater
- 10 Best Things to Do in Sucre
Have any questions about my post on the beauty of Bolivia in pictures or traveling in Bolivia? Send me a message in the comments below!
Interested in more travel tips & tricks? Check out my other posts for more travel tips.