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Bolivia

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Hostal La Posada de la Abuela Obdulia
Hostal La Posada de la Abuela Obdulia - dream vacation

Calle Linares No. 947, Zona El Rosario, La Paz

Hotel Utama Copacabana
Hotel Utama Copacabana - dream vacation

Calle Michael Perez 60, Copacabana

Senses Hotel
Senses Hotel - dream vacation

Sucre 5 esquina 24 de Septiembre, Santa Cruz

Hotel LP Santa Cruz
Hotel LP Santa Cruz - dream vacation

Av Ejercito Nacional 290, Santa Cruz

Camino Real Hotel
Camino Real Hotel - dream vacation

Av San Martin Y 4 Anillo Equipetrol Norte, Santa Cruz

Hostal Oro Blanco
Hostal Oro Blanco - dream vacation

Av. Ferroviaria no 6 entre Sucre y Arce, Uyuni

Bolivia is a beautiful, geographically rich in diversity, and multiethnic country in the heart of South America. It is surrounded by Brazil to the northeast, Peru to the northwest, Paraguay to the southwest, Argentina and Chile to the south. It shares with Peru control of Lake Titicaca (Lago Titicaca), the world's highest navigable lake (elevation 3,821 m).

Regions

Cities

  • La Paz — the administrative capital and seat of the government
  • Cochabamba — the country's third-largest city, with a pleasant, moderate climate
  • Oruro — famous for its carnival
  • Potosí — once one of the wealthiest cities in the world due to its silver mines
  • Santa Cruz — the second-largest and most affluent city of Bolivia
  • Sucre — the constitutional capital and seat of judiciary
  • Tarija— The Festival of Wine is held annually in Tarija

Other destinations

  • Chacaltaya & Huayna Potosi — the world's highest ski resort and Bolivia's most popular mountain climb
  • Isla del Sol — Located in the south part of Titicaca Lake. A remote island in the middle of the lake. Astonishing landscapes and very old ruins from Inca period make this location a good place to find peace.
  • Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos — six remote towns of the Gran Chaco founded by the Jesuits in the 17th and 18th centuries. The region where towns are situated is called Chiquitania and is well worth a visit not just for the Missions, but for the beautiful nature as well.
  • Madidi National Park — Located a few miles North of Apolo, is one of the world's most extensive biodiversity reserves. Its humid tropical climate has spawned one of Bolivia’s richest woodlands.
  • Noel Kempff Mercado National Park — impossibly remote and even more impossibly beautiful Amazonian park, home to the stunning Cataratas Arcoiris waterfall
  • Quime - Raunchy and friendly mountain village surrounded by high mountains of the Cordillera Quimsa Cruz, between La Paz & Cochabamba, with mines, waterfalls, native cloud forest and 31 Aimara indigenous communities. Exploration hiking. Most convenient of Bolivia's valley towns to get to.
  • Sajama National Park — beautiful Andean landscapes and Bolivia's highest mountain, Nevada Sajama
  • Salar de Uyuni — the spectacular landscapes along the largest salt flats in the world
  • Sorata — Hikers' destination, also close to San Pedro caves, which host a nice lagoon
  • Tiwanaku — Ancient ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Yungas region to be reached via bicycle on El Camino de Muerte, the World's Most Dangerous Road, leading through dramatic high altitude cliffside jungle terrain or by walking on El Choro Trek through the climate zones from La Paz to Coroico

Understand

Sometimes referred to as the Tibet of South America, Bolivia is one of the most "remote" countries in the Western Hemisphere; except for the navigable Paraguay River stretching to the distant Atlantic, Bolivia and Paraguay are the only two landlocked nations in the Americas. It is also the most indigenous country in the Americas, with 60% of its population being of pure Native American ancestry.

History

Bolivia, named after independence fighter Simón Bolívar, broke away from Spanish rule in 1825; much of its subsequent history has consisted of a series of nearly 200 coups and counter-coups. Comparatively democratic civilian rule was established in the 2000s, but leaders have faced difficult problems of deep-seated poverty, social unrest, and drug use. Current goals include attracting foreign investment, strengthening the hygiene system, and waging an anti-corruption campaign on poor citizens.

The current president is Evo Morales, who won majority in a 2005 election and was inaugurated at the historical Tiwanaku archeological sites. Morales and his party, the Movement for Socialism, were re-elected in 2009, with another majority. President Morales is the first Native leader of Bolivia since before the Spanish conquest, and he has concentrated on promoting the welfare of long-neglected Native people, so he is very popular with the Native majority, but those of European descent, who are concentrated in parts of the Tropical Lowlands, are in many instances strongly opposed to him and his policies. The protesters often shut down streets in La Paz, specifically the area surrounding the Plaza Murillo, and install blockades along major inter-city travel routes. If you are traveling between cities by bus, it can be common for the trip to be stalled by several hours due to these protests. Sometimes pickets of miners last several days between bigger cities and there are just no buses leaving in some directions.

Culture

Bolivia has a greater percentage of Native people than any other country in the Americas. They are mostly Quechua and Aymara people (the Spaniards wiped out the Incan aristocracy when they conquered the Andes). You may have seen Quechua people in your city selling colorful shawls and sweaters or heard a Quechua ensemble playing traditional music. But while many Andeans have to go abroad to seek a better life, more of them are still here, and their culture continues to live.

Climate

Bolivia's climate remains relatively similar from one climatic zone to another. It ranges from humid and tropical to slightly humid and tropical. In most parts of the country winters are dry and summers are somewhat wet. Despite its tropical latitude, the altitude of cities like La Paz keeps things cool, and warm clothing is advised during the months of April and May. The summer months in Bolivia are November through March. The weather is typically warmer and wetter during these months. April through October, the winter months, are typically colder and drier.

National holidays

  • January 1 - New Year's Day
  • January 22 - Founding of the Plurinational State Day
  • May 1 - Labor Day
  • June 21 - Willkakuti (official holiday)
  • August 6 - Independence Day
  • November 2 - All Soul's Day
  • December 25 - Christmas

When the holiday falls on a Sunday, sometimes the holiday is moved to the following Monday. There are also departmental holidays.

Get in

The following nationalities will not need a visa for short stays of less than 90 days as tourists: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany,Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, Norway, New Zealand, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vatican City, and Venezuela.

As of July 30, 2014, Israelis must have visas for Bolivia as the Morales government has scrapped the visa agreement between the two countries.

Most people who do need tourist visas can obtain them on arrival, except for the following nationalities:

All business travellers and persons wishing to stay longer than 90 days in a year must obtain a visa in advance.

Unless you are under the age of 1, you will need a yellow fever vaccination certificate to apply for a visa.

Arriving overland from Peru, US citizen tourist visas can be obtained at the border. They require a visa application form, a copy of the passport, a copy of yellow fever vaccination, a copy of an itinerary leaving Bolivia, evidence of economic solvency, a hotel reservation or written invitation, and a 4cm X 4cm or "passport sized" photo. A US$135 fee is also required, payable in freshly minted cash. Any old or marked bills will not be accepted. There are photocopy machines at the border crossing.

By plane

The main airports are located in La Paz to the western side of the country and in Santa Cruz to the east.

The arrival plan must be based mostly in the purpose of your visit to the country; you have to remember that La Paz receives most of their visitors due to the immense culture and heritage from the Incas and other indigenous cultures from the Andean region, and therefore from La Paz it is easier to move to the Tiwanaku ruins, Oruro’s carnival, Potosí’s mines, Uyuni, Lake Titicaca, Los Yungas valley and the Andes Mountains; since La Paz is the seat of government all the embassies and foreign organizations have their headquarters in the city, which is useful in case of an emergency.

On the other side, Santa Cruz with a warmer weather could become a good location for doing business visit other alternatives in tourism like the Misiones, the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park or visit the eastern cities. There are also some foreign consulates in Santa Cruz.

The cities in the south and central Bolivia, like CochabambaTarija and Sucre also offer a very rich experience; there are several ways to get to these cities from La Paz or Santa Cruz.

From Europe

Regular flights are booked from Madrid (Barajas) to Viru Viru in Santa Cruz service provided by companies like Boliviana de Aviación and Air Europa; the cost could go from €800-1200 to other higher prices depending on the class and duration.

From Latin America

Other airlines that fly into Bolivia from other Latin American countries include LAN from Santiago via Iquique and from Lima. It is also now possible to fly between Cusco and La Paz with Amaszonas and Peruvian Airlines, making circular itineraries possible where you enter Bolivia from Peru across Lake Titicaca and then fly back into Peru. TAM Mercosur flies from São Paulo, Brazil and Buenos Aires via Asunción. Copa Airlines has begun to fly to Santa Cruz from Panama City. Avianca also flies to Lima and Bogotá. Gol Airlines and Aerolineas Argentinas also fly directly to Santa Cruz.

From the USA

There are departures from Miami to La Paz and Santa Cruz on American Airlines. Once you have your international flight booked - it's far easier and cheaper to organize your internal flights from the point of departure.

By train

In 2014, portions of the Bolivian rail network was acquired by a Chilean company called La Empresa Ferroviaria Andina S.A. (FCA). Many discontinued passenger services appears to have been restarted. Check the FCA website for details.

  • From Brazil, a train connects the Bolivian border town of Puerto Quijarro with Santa Cruz. The fast and slow train takes 13 hours and 17 hours respectively.
  • From Argentina, a train connects the Bolivian border town of Villazón (across from La Quiaca) to Uyuni (9-12hours). Tupiza is at the midpoint 4 hours from Villazón.
  • From Chile, a train connects Calama with Uyuni (13 or 18 hours). Since this is a cargo train with passenger carriage attached, expect rough ride through exceptional scenery. (Calama - Antofagasta segment of the railway appears to not have passenger service) The other trans-national railway with Chile terminating at Arica also does not carry passengers.

By car

It is common for tourists to travel through a land border at the north-east of Chile/ South-West of Bolivia.

Keep in mind that only about 5% of all the roads in Bolivia are paved. However, most major routes between major cities (e.g., Santa CruzLa PazCochabamba, Sucre) are paved. A 4x4 is strongly encouraged when traveling off the flatter altiplano. Be aware that in mountainous regions traffic sometimes switches sides of the road. This is to ensure the driver has a better view of the dangerous drops.

An international driver's license is required but most times EU or US driver's licenses will be accepted. There are frequent police controls on the road and tolls to be paid for road use.

By bus

There are many options for traveling from Argentina to Bolivia by bus. There are sites to check times online but as always in Bolivia, it pays to check on the ground in advance as well.

There is a bus that runs from Juliaca and Puno in Peru to Copacabana.

By boat

Passenger ferries on Lake Titicaca no longer exist.

Get around

Transportation strikes (bloqueos) are a common occurrence in Bolivia, so try to keep tuned to local news. Strikes often affect local taxis as well as long-distance buses; airlines are generally unaffected. Do not try to go around or through blockades (usually of stones, burning tires, or lumber). Strikers may throw rocks at your vehicle if you try to pass the blockade. Violence has sometimes been reported. Many strikes only last a day or two. There is a government website with a live map showing which roads are closed or affected by landslides.

By bus

Bus transportation in Bolivia is a nice cheap way to get to see the beautiful scenery while traveling to your destination. Unfortunately the buses often travel solely at night. Keep in mind that roads are occasionally blocked due to protests, often for several days. So ask several companies at the terminal if you hear about blockades, unless you are willing to spend a few days sleeping on the bus.

Bus travel is usually pretty cheap. Estimate that it will cost you about US$1 for every hour of travel (it's easier to find travel times online than actual price quotes). Prices do change based on supply and demand. Sometimes you can get a deal by waiting until the last minute to buy. Hawkers are constantly crying out destinations in the bigger bus stations cajoling potential riders to take their bus line.

On average, bus companies are not-that-great to decent, but some are just really bad. It is recommended not to travel with Urus, as they drive less safely than others, and include many many stops which unnecessarily prolong the ride.

By plane

Flying within Bolivia is quick and fairly economical. BoA connects most major cities.

  • Boliviana de Aviación - BoA - the national airline of Bolivia. Provides economical travel between the main cities of Bolivia. You can book your tickets online or at BoA-offices in Santa CruzLa Paz or Cochabamba. Main office in Cochabamba, Calle Jordán #202 esq. Nataniel Aguirre. email: ventasweb@boa.bo phone: +591 901 10 50 10 fax: +591 4 4116477
  • Ecojet flies the usual major city routes, but it also has flights to Riberalta and Guayaramerin in Bení. Call Center can be reached at phone: +591 901 10 50 55 (not a toll-free call)

By train

On some routes, the roads are in such a dire condition that the train becomes the alternative of choice. Trains are more comfortable than one would expect, having for example reclinable seats. The trip from Oruro to Uyuni is especially beautiful, with the train going literally through an Andean lake on the way. The train is especially good for trips to the Salar de Uyuni and the Pantanal.

Coming from La Paz, you need to take a three-hour bus ride to Oruro to catch the train. It's best to book your tickets a few days before your trip. In La Paz booking office is at Fernando Guachalla No. 494, at the corner with Sánchez Lima (between the Plaza del Estudiante and Plaza Abaroa). Main stops are UyuniTupiza and Villazon, on the Argentine border. Information here: [1].

Between Santa Cruz and the Pantanal it is more straightfoward to organize a trip. Just go to the Terminal Bimodal in Santa Cruz (see the Santa Cruz page for details), or the train station on the border in Puerto Quijarro. The train is also convenient for trips to the Jesuit Missions. Check the website [2] for timetables.

By taxi

For longer trips between towns and cities that aren't served by bus, shared taxis are common. Shared taxis are not safe for tourists, especially if you are solo female traveller.

Talk

Bolivia has 37 official languages -of which Spanish (often called Castellano), Quechua, and Aymara are the main ones. In rural areas, many people do not speak Spanish. Nevertheless, you should be able to get by with some basic Castellano. Bolivia is one of the best places in which to learn or practice your Spanish because of their very clean, deliberate accent. There are many options for studying Spanish in Bolivia, and they are usually very good (often, the program includes a very good homestay component).

See

Bolivia has six UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In the eastern department of Santa Cruz there are the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, the Inca site El Fuerte in Samaipata and the Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos. Near the capital there is Tiwanaku, an archeological site with the remains of an pre-Incan city. Finally there are Sucre and Potosí, two cities founded by the Spanish in the 16th century.

Furthermore Bolivia has the world's largest salt flat Salar de Uyuni, a portion of Lake Titicaca with Isla del Sol and being located in the middle of the Andes — mountain peaks higher than 6,000m.

Do

  • The Death Road:from La Cumbre to Coroico. A mountainbike tour of 64km where you'll be able to see the diversity of Bolivia. Leave from La Cumbre at 5000m, in a cold and windy environment, and get to Coroico, in a wet and tropical environment.
  • Explore the Provinces: Bolivia is a place to explore, it is mostly still untouched. The people are friendly in the countryside. There are hundreds of off the map, mostly out-of-the-guide places to go in Bolivia, and far more exciting than what the tour agencies and guide books offer. In the La Paz department for example you can easily catch transport to places like Pelechuco, the east side of Lake Titicaca, Achacachi, Isla del Sol, or Quime, not to mention scores of other villages and small towns. The free govt. tour agencies at the Plaza Estudiantes or Prado can help you find transport anywhere and tell you about it.

Buy

Money

The national currency is the Bolíviano (ISO code: BOB), denoted Bs.

Bills come in denominations of 200, 100, 50, 20, and 10; coins are in 5, 2, and 1 Bolivianos, and 50, 20, and you will find sometimes 10 centavos (1/10 of a Boliviano). Bills larger than Bs50 can be hard to break in smaller stores or vendors, but a quick phone call or internet session at an Internet Café (see Contact, below) will usually get you change.

Currency can be exchanged for US dollars and most South American currencies at Casa De Cambio agencies or street vendors. Expect to negotiate for a favorable exchange rate, as most vendors will try to make money off a tourist.

U.S. dollars are widely accepted in hotels, tourist shops, and for large purchases.

Banco de Credito is a good bank to take cash from. Banco Union should be avoided if possible as it charges a 5% surcharge (as of May 2012), although they do not make any mention of this.

Tipping

Service charges are included with the bill. Still, a small tip, around 5% or so, is sometimes given, and is considered polite.

Eat

The cuisine of Bolivia might be called the original "meat and potatoes" -- the latter (locally called papas from the Quechua) were first cultivated by the Inca before spreading throughout the world. The most common meat is beef, though chicken and llama are also easily found. Pork is relatively common. Deep frying (chicharron) is a common method of cooking all sorts of meat, and fried chicken is a very popular quick dish; at times the smell permeates the streets of Bolivian cities. Guinea pigs (cuy) and rabbits (conejo) are eaten in rural areas, though you can sometimes find them in urban restaurants as well. A common condiment served with Bolivian meals is ll'ajwa, a spicy sauce similar to Mexican salsa.

Almuerzo is very popular during the mid-day meal and usually consists of an appetizer (entrada), soup, main dish (segundo), and dessert. Walk around many streets around Bolivian cities and you'll see the day's menu for that restaurant. Most have at least 2 main dish options to choose from. Almuerzos run anywhere between Bs15-25 depending on the restaurant or 'pension'.

Some notable Bolivian dishes:

  • Pique a lo macho - grilled chunks of meat in a slightly spicy sauce with tomatoes and onion, on potatoes
  • Silpancho - beef pounded to a thin, plate-sized patty, served on a bed of rice and potatoes, with a fried egg on top (Similar to wiener schnitzel).
  • Picante de Pollo - the degree of spiciness depends on the cook/chef
  • Fritanga (Bolivian style fried pork)

Street food and snacks:

  • Anticucho - Beef hearts grilled on a skewer, served with potatoes and a spicy peanut sauce
  • Salchipapa - Thinly sliced sausage fried with potatoes
  • Choripan - Chorizo (spicy sausage) sandwich, served with grilled onions and lots of sauce

Mid-Morning snacks typically consists of any of several of meat-filled buns:

  • Salteña - A baked bun filled with meat and potatoes in a slightly sweet or spicy sauce. Be careful when you take a bite, as the sauce will drip all over!
  • Tucumana - Like a salteña but fried
  • Empanada - Similar to a saltena, often filled with cheese as well as meat
  • Cuñape - A small roll filled with cheese, similar to Brazilian pão de queijo. The bread is made from cassava flour.

Many people also start off the day with some concoction involving fruit:

  • Ensalada de frutas - Many different fruits chopped in a bowl of yogurt. Very filling. Some stalls may have honey, nuts or gelatin on top, if you like.

Vegetarians will find decent to very good options in Gringo-places around the country. But also at market places, there are good vegetarian options on offer (usually potatoes, rice, fried egg and salad for about 7Bs.) In bigger cities, there are some (decent to good) fully vegetarian restaurants.

Drink

Juice bars appear at most markets. Shakes (either with water or milk) are 2 Bs2-3. Locals can be seen to drink Vitaminico an egg, beer and sugar concoction or "Vitima" which includes coca leaves.

  • Licuado - Water or milk blended with your favorite fruit combination. A big spoonful of sugar will be added unless you specifically ask them not to. Try the milk and papaya licuado. You should probably ask whether the water added is from botella (bottle) or from the tap (not recommended).
  • Vitaminico - Don't ask what's in here. Many fruits, milk, sugar, a shot of beer, and, if you wish, a whole egg (with shell).
  • Mocochinchi - A drink made by brewing peaches and spices together in water. Very good but some people are turned off by the shriveled peach which is typically served with each glass.
  • Api - A traditional corn-based drink usually found in the open-air markets. If you didn't know it was corn you'd never guess it though because this stuff is good.

Alcohol

Bolivia's traditional alcoholic drink is chicha, a whitish, sour brew made from fermented corn and drunk from a hemispherical bowl fashioned from a hollowed gourd (round-bottomed so you can't put it down). It's customary to spill a bit of chicha on the ground before and after drinking it as an offering to Pachamama, the Inca earth goddess.

  • Singani is a grape liquor that's mixed with Sprite or ginger ale with lime garnish to make a cocktail called chuflay.
  • There are a number of local beers, the largest being Paceña and its high-end brand Huari. El Inca is a very sweet low-alcohol beer. Orange Cocktails are a popular drink too!

Tarija is located at 1924 meters above sea level, and is known for it's wine-making, vast vineyards, and award-winning wines. Hence you can visit and taste wine at its beautiful wineries, such as: Campos De Solana, Kohlberg, Casa Vieja, Valle De Concepción, and Casa Real, where the famous Singani is made.

Sleep

Offering a favorable exchange for Western tourists, lodging can be found at very reasonable prices throughout the country, from hostels to luxury hotels. Most basic are Alojamientos (at Bs40-50 per night).

Stay safe

Apply common sense and take precautions that apply elsewhere. All tourists should be careful when selecting a travel guide and never accept medication from unverifiable sources. Women tourists should be cautious when traveling alone. At night try to use "radio taxis" as fake cabs are common and robbings and even rapes do occur. It is a good idea to register with the consulate of your country of residence upon entry into the country. And it is also helpful learn at least basic Spanish to keep yourself a little safe.

When taking an interdepartmental bus (say from La Paz to Cochabamba), do not accept snacks or drinks from nearby passengers. Even though most likely they may just want to be nice, there have been instances that passengers being drugged and robbed during nighttime trips. Say "no, gracias".

Stay healthy

Some parts of Bolivia like La Paz (3650), Potosí (4010), Oruro (3950) and the Lake Titicaca region are high altitude, so adequate precautions against "sorojchi" altitude sickness should be taken.

At local pharmacies they sell sorojchi pills, that are supposed to help with altitude problems. It has painkillers as well as natural herbs to help cope with the symptoms of "sorojchi". In many parts of the Altiplano you can purchase coca leaves, which are reputed to be useful against soroche. Coca tea ("mate de coca") is available in tea bags in many markets.

However, severe cases of high altitude disease can be treated at the High Altitude Pathology Institute at Clinica IPPA. This clinic has the most advanced technology including a hyperoxic/hypoxic adaptation chamber. In addition, the sun's ultraviolet rays are much stronger -- up to 20 times -- than at sea level. A sun hat, sunglasses, and skin protection (sunblock or long sleeves) are advised.

  • Yellow fever vaccination is recommended for those who plan on spending time in the Bolivian Amazon. It must be taken 10 days prior to the person’s arrival into the country if the visitor plans to visit rural areas.
  • Malaria prophylaxis is recommended if the visitor plans to visit tropical-rural areas.
  • As a preventive measure, taking the following vaccines is recommended: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Tetanus, Diphtheria and Measles Booster-Vaccines.

Respect

Do not use the word "indio" in Bolivia to describe indigenous people. It is considered offensive. The term they use is "campesino" which translates to peasant or "indígena". A "cholo" is a campesino who moved to the city, and though originally derogatory, has become more of a symbol of indigenous power. Nevertheless, some locals still use the word cholo as a derogatory term.

Also, keep in mind the stark cultural and racial differences between the "cambas" of the Llanos in the east, who are white and mestizo and the "collas" of the Andes in the west who are Native American. They tend to not be on good terms and have been even more fiercely divided since the election of Evo Morales, the country's first indigenous president. The two peoples tend to be very defensive about their side of Bolivia, so discussing your travel to the other cultural region of the country may be seen as insulting. In Santa Cruz, where society is much more Westernized, associating with indigenous culture is frowned upon, whereas in La Paz and elsewhere, it is quite the contrary.

It is also good to keep in mind that the Bolivian culture is very warm and friendly. That being said, it is very rude not to say Buen Día or Buenos Días to passersby in the streets. It also customary to give up your seat on a city bus for someone older than you, or a woman. In turn, others will give their seats up for you if you look a little bit older than they are.

Connect

Bolivia has three cellphone companies, Entel, Tigo, and Viva. All three have outlets on practically every block in major cities. Internet cafés are becoming less prevalent with the spread of smart phones making internet access more accessible. However, one can still find a cyber café if you look. Cyber cafés typically cost about Bs3/hour, or about $0.50 per hour.

Many cafés have free wifi for customers, although the speed can vary depending on the number of users connected.

While traditional payphones still exist, you can also make local calls for Bs1 from cellular phones at kiosks.

If you are staying for a while, consider buying SIM cards for your cellphones. They are quite cheap and you get good network coverage in all main cities and towns. Entel sells good-priced international call possibilities for their SIMs, i.e. you can buy 10 mins for Bs20 (to be used in one day, disconnects automatically after expiration). You will need to register the SIM card at a local office of the telecom. You will need a photocopy of your passport and the mobile phone that you will use.

The Amateur Traveler talks to Michael Tieso about his recent trip to Bolivia. He was traveling from Argentina to Peru and at first Bolivia was just in the way, but he discovered a country worth seeing.

Hear about travel to The Pantanal in Brazil as the Amateur Traveler talks to Daisy about her recent trip to this vast wetlands area. The Pantanal is south of the Amazon in Eastern Brazil and also extends into Bolivia and Paraguay.“The Pantanal is a basin that is the world’s largest wetlands. It is about ten times the size of the Everglades. It’s really a great site to see wildlife.” The Pantanal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Perhaps you've read somewhere or other that there are over 3,000 traditional Peruvian festivals held throughout the year? It's a popular claim that pops up time and again in guidebooks and on websites, and though we ourselves haven't verified the number, it certainly wouldn't surprise us! Peru is a country that holds onto its traditions while increasingly embracing innovation as well, a perfect storm for festivals and fiestas of all types to flourish and to grow.

If you're planning to visit Peru, you might find yourself intrigued by the prospect of observing, or even participating in, one of these many different Peruvian festivals. If that's the case, you're in luck--we've taken the liberty to compile a list of some of our favorite Peruvian festivals, including one for each month of the year in hopes that you'll find something that corresponds with the dates of your trip. Keep in mind that this is very much just the tip of the iceberg--all of these Peruvian festivals are fantastic, but there are many more that we've had to leave out simply due to the nature of our list. If we haven't included any options that work out with your travel itinerary, don't fret--get to researching and we're sure you'll find the festival for you.

So without further ado, let's get to it! Here is our list of twelve awesome Peruvian festivals, one for each month of the year:

1. January--Trujillo Marinera Festival

The Trujillo Marinera Festival, one of our favorite Peruvian festivals, is held annually in January.

Trujillo, a coastal city in northern Peru, is the traditional home of the marinera, an elegant couple's dance making use of handkerchiefs as props. Since 1986 it's been the official national capital of this dance, a status celebrated annually in a month-long marinera festival held throughout the city! The Festival de Marinera, as it's known in Spanish, features dance competitions, parades, and even exhibitions of the Peruvian Paso, a breed of horse also recognized as part of the cultural patrimony of the Trujillo region. One of our favorite Peruvian festivals, this one is a can't miss if you find yourself in the area during January.

2. February--Fiesta de la Candelaria

The Fiesta de la Candelaria is one of the largest Peruvian festivals.

The Fiesta de la Candelaria is not only the largest and most famous festival in Peru, but also one of the largest in South America as a whole--in fact, throughout the continent, it's only dwarfed by the world-famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and the Carnaval de Ouro in Bolivia. The first of many religious Peruvian festivals on our list, the Fiesta de la Candelaria celebrates the Virgin of Candelaria, the patron saint of the town of Puno where the festivities are held. Music and dance are at the core of this festival, all of it performed by elaborately-costumed participants numbering well over 40,000. An incredible two week-long synthesis of indigenous and Catholic traditions, this is one of the most iconic Peruvian festivals.

3. March--Festival Internacional de la Vendimia

The Festival Internacional de la Vendimia is one of our favorite Peruvian festivals.

Depending upon where Easter falls during a given year, the month of March can either be very busy or very quiet as far as major Peruvian festivals are concerned. That said, we figured we may as well take a break from the religious festivals to focus on something else with a different sort of appeal--wine! The Ica Region of Peru is famous for a number of things, the Nazca Lines and the desert oasis of La Huacachina among them, but those in-the-know also recognize it as the finest wine-producing region in the country. This role has been celebrated annually in March since the 1950s during the Festival Internacional de la Vendimia, or the International Harvest Festival, in which a queen is famously chosen to ceremoniously stomp the first grapes of the season.

 4. April--Festividad del Señor del los Temblores del Cusco

Image of the Lord of the Earthquakes, one of the major Peruvian festivals in Cusco.

Image appears courtesy of www.photoexperience.net.

El Señor de los Temblores, or the Lord of the Earthquakes, is the patron saint of Cusco and the celebratory focus of this major Holy Week celebration. The story goes that during an earthquake here in 1650, a canvas image of Jesus Christ was held to the sky as prayers were offered, causing the tremors to subside and saving the town from ruin. Since then, this statue commemorating the original image has become the focal point of an important annual celebration. Each Easter Monday at 7 PM, the statue is removed from Cusco's cathedral and paraded throughout the city. Amazingly, it's said that the statue was not originally black, but rather that its color is due to years of exposure to smoke from incense during religious ceremonies.

5. May--Fiesta de las Cruces

Fiesta de las Cruces is one of the most widely-celebrated Peruvian festivals.

First of all, let's be clear: the Fiesta de las Cruces, or the Festival of the Crosses, is not a uniquely Peruvian celebration. However, the way the Peruvians celebrate it does make it one of the most important Peruvian festivals. You see, the Festival of the Crosses is not held in just one spot in the country. Rather, the festival is celebrated in towns and cities throughout Peru, each putting their own unique spin on things. Though the name may conjure up solemn images, don't worry--festivals throughout the Peruvian highlands include music, dancing, and even events such as bullfighting as part of the celebrations.

6. June--Inti Raymi

Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun, is one of the most traditional Peruvian festivals.

Inti Raymi, the ancient Inca Festival of the Sun, is one of the most traditional Peruvian festivals on our list, indigenous in design and untouched by Catholic tradition. Held annually on June 24th, Inti Raymi is meant to celebrate the Winter Solstice--remember that we're in the Southern Hemisphere here! Banned by the Spanish and the Catholic Church after 1535, the modern incarnation of the celebration began in 1944 based on the few historical records of the festivities that managed to survive. Since then it has grown in size and scope, and though sometimes derided as tourist pageantry by detractors, its historical and cultural significance definitely make it worth checking out among the many Peruvian festivals.

7. July--Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen

The Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen is one of many Peruvian festivals related to the Catholic religion.

Image appears courtesy of canadiansocietyforasianarts.org.

Another fine example of traditional Andean culture blended with Catholicism, the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen is held annually around the 16th of July in the relatively small town of Paucartambo, some four hours outside of Cusco. This three or four day festival is nominally religious but also one of the biggest and wildest parties in Peru, drawing visitors from all over the country, many of whom pass the nights sleeping under the stars as there's simply not enough space in town! If you know what you're looking for, you'll actually notice some serious Peruvian history depicted in the festival's songs, costumes, and dance--for example, black-masked dancers represent African slaves imported to work the silver mines here during the colonial era.

8. August--Día de Santa Rosa de Lima

Festivities celebrating a href=

Santa Rosa de Lima was the first native-born American saint canonized by the Catholic Church, and her legacy is celebrated throughout the world. However, it should come as no surprise that the grandest festivities take place in her home country of Peru. On August 30th, the anniversary of her death, celebrations and memorials take place throughout the country, the most famous being in Santa Rosa de Quives just outside of the capital city itself.

9. September--Mistura Culinary Festival

Mistura Culinary Festival is one of our favorite Peruvian festivals.

As you should know by now, Peruvian cuisine is some of the world's best and Lima in particular features what is probably South America's most impressive culinary scene. And as if the food wasn't enticing enough year round, the prospect of eating your way through Peru becomes even more appealing each September when the Mistura Culinary Festival rolls around. Featuring over 200 restaurants and bars not to mention plenty of outdoor vendors and food carts, well over half a million visitors stop by to enjoy the festival's offerings over the course of some ten days in mid-September. Though certainly not one of the most traditional Peruvian festivals on our list, this is without a doubt the most delicious.

10. October--Procesión del Señor de los Milagros

The main Catholic celebration is one of the largest Peruvian festivals.

The story might sound a bit familiar--an 18th Century earthquake destroyed a good part of town leaving only this iconic image of Jesus Christ standing. This was considered a miracle, the image became even more venerated, and with time the celebration of its feast day became the largest religious celebration in Peru featuring one of the longest processions of any religious gathering in the world. If you're just looking to have fun, this one probably isn't for you--however, this considerably more solemn celebration is one of the most important Peruvian festivals and we couldn't leave it off our list.

11. November--Puno Week

This full week of celebrations is one of the best Peruvian festivals.

Perhaps the name Puno rings a bell? If so, you've got a good memory--this is the same city where our February festival choice of the Fiesta de la Candelaria took place! Puno Week takes place during the beginning of November and centers around November 5th, also known as Puno Day. The purpose of Puno Day, and by extension Puno Week, is to celebrate the legendary birth of one Manco Cápac, said to be the first Inca. This involves a very interesting reenactment of his arrival on the shores of Lake Titicaca bordering the city--and it's also just a great excuse to party the whole week long.

12. December--Santuranticuy

Santuranticuy is the final entry on our Peruvian festivals list.

Image appears courtesy of www.cuscoperu.com.

As we wind down our list, a few things should by now be obvious: the first is that Peruvians love their festivals, and the second is that many of these Peruvian festivals feature religious--and here that means Catholic--themes. The final entry on our list is of course no exception--Santuranticuy is held exclusively in the city of Cusco each year on Christmas Eve, December 24th, and is essentially a massive outdoor marketplace set up to celebrate the holiday. The festival's name, which means "sale of saints," is quite appropriate, as the primary draw here are dolls, sculptures, and figurines used to decorate the nacimientos, or Catholic nativity scenes, found in many Peruvian homes during the Christmas season. However, even if you aren't religious, you're sure to find something of interest at this most shopper-friendly of Peruvian festivals.

The post 12 Peruvian Festivals, One for Each Month of the Year! appeared first on IncaTrail.info.

Stretching 96,922 square kilometers across the country, the Amazon comprises more than 60 percent of Peru. The area is home to stunning landscapes, unrivaled biodiversity, and fascinating cultures. A trip to the Peruvian Amazon is well worth the effort, but what are the most impressive attractions? Check out the top four things to do in the Peruvian Amazon.

Peru Amazon Trip

1. Explore ancient ruins in Kuelap. The Chachapoyas people, meaning the Warriors of the Cloud, were a pre-Colombian civilization living in the dense forests of Amazonian region. Though eventually incorporated into the vast Incan Empire just prior to the Spanish’s arrival, the Chachapoyas were known as fiercely independent warriors that vehemently resisted outside rule. Today, the fortress of Kuelap stands as a testament to the greatness of the civilization. Situated on the summit of a hill on the left bank of the Utcubamba, the walled city contains over 400 circular buildings. Kuelap’s sheer size and breathtaking location makes it one of the most impressive ruins in Latin America. Constructed between 900 and 1100 AD, visitors can reach these 1,000-year-old ruins via Chiclayo, which is about 9 hours away by car. Keep in mind that it is best to make the trek during the dry season, between June and October, as during the rainy season many roads and trails become inaccessible.

2. Hike to a waterfall in Tarapoto. If you’re searching for jaw-dropping landscapes, you will find them in Tarapoto. Situated where the Andes meet the Amazon, Tarapoto is marked by verdant, dramatic hills and beautiful rivers — the perfect recipe for waterfalls. The Cataratas del Ahuashiyacu is arguably Tarapoto’s most famous waterfall. However, there are a number of arguably more spectacular waterfalls situated off the beaten path. The Cataratas de Huacamaillo, though a 3-hour hike away, are well worth the trek.

3. Search for pink dolphins. The Amazon River dolphin, colloquially known as the pink dolphin, is a freshwater dolphin found in the Amazonian rivers of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. These fascinating creatures thrive in the lowland rivers of Peru. During the annual rainy reason when the Amazon floods across vast swaths of forests and marshes, these dolphins are able to use their unusually long necks and flexible spinal cords to maneuver under tree trunks and submerged vegetation to hunt and extract their prey, feeding on crustaceans, small turtles, catfish, crabs, and shrimp. In local Amazonian lore, the pink dolphins are powerful symbols of good luck.

4. Participate in an Ayahuasca ceremony. Made by combining the caapi vine with DMT-containing plants, this powerful hallucinogenic is an important part of a rich tradition of ethoegenic practices within many indigenous communities throughout the Amazon basin, used for both medical purposes and spiritual guidance. The visions induced by Ayahuasca can help users to conquer their fears and gain new insights. Outsiders have long made the journey into the Amazon in search of an illuminating Ayahuasca experience. Allen Ginsberg, a famous beat poet, went to Peru in 1960 in search of the plant on the advice of his writer friend William Burroughs. Paul Simon’s 1990 song “Spirit Journey” recounts his trip into the Amazon and experience with Ayahuasca, while a number of musicians have also tried Ayahuasca, including Tori Amos, Ben Lee, and Sting.

However, visitors are advised to exercise caution if taking Ayahuasca and to find a reputable center or shaman. The experience itself is physically demanding and is often accompanied by fever and intense vomiting. Visitors also need to follow a dietary regimen in preparation for the ceremony, which entails abstaining from salt, sugar, and meat. The Takiwasi center, located just outside of Tarapoto, is highly recommended. The center is run by French physician Jaques Mabiti and combines traditional medicine, including Ayahuasca, with modern psychotherapy. The center runs nine-month rehabilitation programs for those with severe problems, although shorter options are also available.

There you have it, our list of Amazon activities. Check out other things to do in Peru here

Amazon Rainforest Peru

The post The Top 4 Things to Do in the Peruvian Amazon appeared first on IncaTrail.info.

Laptop in Malta

There’s a question that I’ve been asked more and more often lately:

“There are so many travel blogs out there today. If I start, I’m going to be so far behind. Do I have any chance of making it a career? Is it even possible?”

A lot of people would say no — but I disagree.

I think now is actually a good time to start a travel blog. There’s more money to be had in the industry. Blogs and personalities become popular much faster. New social networks becoming progressively more prominent. In short, you’re open to a lot of opportunities that I didn’t have.

 

RELATED: How to Start a Travel Blog The Right Way

 

Here are a few tips from 2016 that did not apply to the space until fairly recently.

Chiang Mai Travel Bloggers

Know you don’t have to be the biggest travel blogger of all.

Just a few years ago, only the top tier of bloggers were making a full-time living from their blog, and only a few were making enough money to live anywhere more expensive than Southeast Asia.

That has changed. More people are making decent livings. You still see plenty of bloggers living in Southeast Asia, but an increasing number are living in pricey cities in North America and Europe.

A lot of new bloggers start with the goal of being one of the biggest travel bloggers of all. (Quite frankly, that was my motivation in the early days.) If you do that, you’re going to be chasing it forever. But if you don’t let fame motivate you — if you instead want to have a quality working career — you can absolutely make it happen.

Think of it this way: every TV actor dreams of having Viola Davis or Kerry Washington’s career, headlining a popular Thursday night drama. But you could also be a working actor appearing in small guest roles on everything from Law & Order to Brooklyn Nine-Nine to random commercials and the latest Judd Apatow flick, the kind of person where people say, “I know that face! What’s she been in?”

Those actors still make money from their craft. Many of them have a pretty good work/life balance as well. That’s something to keep in mind.

Kate Quaker Oats Murder

That said — most of the big names have slowed down their travels.

There was a time when the people behind the biggest travel blogs were on the road at least 80% of the time. That’s not the case anymore. We’re very tired.

I’m not going to name names because some people are keeping it quieter than others, but a great many popular travel bloggers have chosen to get year-round apartments with leases and travel far less often. (Most of you know that I am one of these bloggers, having moved to New York seven weeks ago.)

That means that if you have the opportunity to travel long-term, you’re going to be doing so in a way that not a lot of others are doing at the moment. That’s especially good for real-time platforms like Snapchat. More on Snapchat below.

Kate in Albania

Niche is good; personality plus specialty is better.

Niche is always a big discussion — people always talk about how important it is to HAVE A NICHE. You need to open that proverbial fly-fishing blog!

But in this day and age, I see it differently. I think the most important thing is to have a well-developed voice and personality along with a few specialties on which you can become an expert.

Alex in Wanderland, for example, has a specialty in diving.

Young Adventuress has a specialty in New Zealand travel.

Flora the Explorer has a specialty in sustainable volunteering.

These specialties are not the only subjects that these bloggers write about, so I wouldn’t go so far as to call them their niches. But they are areas that differentiate them and give them expertise and credibility. If I needed help with any of those subjects, I would go to their sites in a heartbeat. (Also, it’s worth adding that Liz didn’t even visit New Zealand until she had already been blogging, so yes, it is possible to develop a specialty on the road!)

This is especially important for all the women trying to differentiate themselves as a solo female travel blogger. There are a million of you now, ladies. Work on diversifying.

The most difficult part is developing your voice and personality, and that can only be done by writing, writing, writing.

Smartphone Challenge

Social media is more important than ever.

We’ve entered a time where social media can often eclipse the value of your blog. That was never the case early in my blogging years, but I’m seeing it more and more today, especially with Instagram.

At this point in time, Instagram is by far the most important social network. It’s widely consumed by “real people,” it’s prioritized by brands (translation: this is where the money is), and it allows you to show your strengths. A company may be more interested in advertising on Instagram than anywhere on your blog.

But this means you’re going to throw a lot of time and effort into creating a beautiful, engaging Instagram profile.

Snapchat is another big network on which I recommend getting started. It’s huge among “real people” and it’s still early enough that you can be an early adopter, like me.

Another place that can become a game-changer is Pinterest. Pinterest now regularly drives traffic to lots of my pages that don’t necessarily do well in search.

Other social networks are important. Some people swear by Facebook (and I do quite a bit with it); others live and die by Twitter. And by all means, yes, work on growing your Facebook audience in particular. But if I were you, I’d throw your time and resources into focusing on Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

Kate and Brenna in Koh Lanta

The time to get into video is now. Or yesterday.

Video is projected to grow more and more — a year and a half ago, Mark Zuckerberg said that he expected video to be the dominant content on Facebook within five years. I’ve said before that not doing enough on YouTube keeps me up at night. I just feel like I haven’t had to learn all the skills.

There is plenty of room to grow on YouTube — I’d argue that you can grow faster and far more effectively as a travel YouTuber than as a travel blogger. The time is definitely now.

FYI — Travel Blog Success is having a sale on their videography course this week. It’s 35% off. See below for more.

I actually bought the course last year but I need to make creating better videos a priority for this summer.

Angkor Wat at Dawn

I still mean it — get out of Southeast Asia.

This is one of the most controversial pieces of advice I’ve given, and I stand by it. Southeast Asia is tremendously oversaturated in the travel blogosphere at this point in time.

Is it possible to focus on Southeast Asia and still become a prominent travel blogger? Of course it is. You can stand out if you consistently create genuinely original content.

But most people who spend time in Southeast Asia don’t do that. They write “this is what it’s like to cruise Halong Bay” and “here are photos from my day at Angkor Wat” and “the best things to do in Ubud are these” and “this is how awesome Koh Lanta is.”

It’s good stuff, sure, and it will be useful to your readers who aren’t familiar with those destinations, but posts like those will not allow you to gain traction as a travel blogger. Major influencers will not be sharing these posts because they’ve been seen a thousand times before.

If you want to spend extended time in a cheap region, consider parts of Mexico and Central America (inland Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, inland Nicaragua), parts of South America (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia), parts of Central and Eastern Europe (Balkans excluding Croatia and Slovenia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, former USSR), and/or parts of South Asia (India, Nepal, Sri Lanka).

Because while plenty of people have written about those destinations, they are nowhere near the saturation level of Southeast Asia.

Bloghouse Mentors: Kate, Lisa, Cailin, Mike, Steph

Travel Blog Success Will Help You Grow Fast, Well, and Efficiently.

I push Travel Blog Success because it’s the best product out there. Why?

  1. The course will teach you so much at a fast rate. If you read the materials and put the work in, you won’t make the mistakes that the majority of bloggers make.
  2. The course comes with discounts and perks. Savings on premium plugins, hosting, design products, conference tickets, and more.
  3. The Facebook community is the best travel blogging group on the web. Forget the giant groups on Facebook — the private Travel Blog Success group is the only place where I give out advice to bloggers publicly, and lots of other experts do, too.

And yes, I earn an affiliate commission if you purchase through that link. 26% on the main course, 15% on the others. But I only link to products that I actually use, like, and recommend. Always have, always will.

What do I always tell people? Wait until the course on sale. Because even though that means I’ll be making a much smaller commission, I’d still rather have you get the maximum discount.

Well, it’s on sale now. 35% off all courses. And since I last wrote about it, more courses have been added in addition to the main Travel Blog Success course:

  • Bloggers, Brands, and Tourism Boards — A course on getting partnerships, both comped and paid
  • Bloggers to Bylines — A course on becoming a freelance travel writer.
  • Videography for Travel Bloggers — A course on becoming a travel videographer or YouTuber.

The sale ends Friday, March 25, 2016, at 11:00 PM ET.

San Juan del Sur Sunset

Because yes: It’s still possible to make it if you start today.

I know some people will disagree with me, but I think that in many ways, it’s a lot easier to get started now than it was when I did in 2010. The market may be crowded, but there is always — always — room for excellent content.

And whether you’re watching a brilliant sunset on a beach in Nicaragua or sitting on your purple couch in your Harlem apartment (which I may be as I write this), the life of a travel blogger is incredibly rewarding. Each day, I feel so grateful that this is what I do for a living.

Note: the links to Travel Blog Success are affiliate links. I only use affiliate links on products that I actually use, like, and recommend. This course is worth every penny and then some!I think now is actually a good time to start a travel blog. There's more money to be had in the industry. Blogs and personalities become popular much faster. New social networks becoming progressively more prominent. In short, you're open to a lot of opportunities that I didn't have.

Roadtrippers

This post was produced in partnership with our friends over at Roadtrippers, a simple but powerful road trip planner that helps you discover, plan, & book your adventure.

I’VE BEEN FORTUNATE ENOUGH to have traveled to some amazing places around the world over the last 10 years: Bolivia, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Mongolia, Jordan, and the list goes on. But I’m not exaggerating in the least when I say that some of my favorite trips have taken place here in the US — typically behind the wheel of my car, on a lonely state highway.

America is just massive. At 3.8 million square miles, it’s three times larger than all the countries listed above combined. So it’s kind of a given that our country would be home to spectacular deserts, mountain ranges, volcanic features, ancient forests, waterfalls, canyons, glaciers, caves, and swamps. But that fact doesn’t diminish the awesomeness of these places.

As spring approaches, my wife and I can’t wait for our next opportunity to hop into our little Mazda with the dog and go find a spot we haven’t been to yet in our thousands of miles of driving around this country that keeps on giving. Hope to see you out there.

1. Death Valley, CA

death valley california

Zabrieskie Point, Death Valley

death valley california

A section of the Mojave Desert, Death Valley is the lowest, driest, hottest place in North America. (1) Trey Ratcliff (2) Pedro Szekely (3) Gleb Tarassenko

2. Kilauea, HI

kilauea hawaii

kilauea hawaii

Kilauea, on the Big Island of Hawaii, sends streams of lava steaming into the Pacific Ocean. (1) Tumanc (2) Esten Hurtle

3. Monument Valley, UT

monument valley utah

monument valley utah

monument valley utah

The sandstone buttes of Monument Valley stand like towers in the Four Corners region of the Western US. (1) Wolfgang Staudt (2) Trey Ratcliff (3) clockwise L to R: Bosure, Wolfgang Staudt, Jason Corneveaux, Kartik Ramanathan

4. Niagara Falls, NY

niagara falls

niagara falls

niagara falls

The tourist vessel “Maid of the Mist IV” does a float-by of the American Falls. (1) Arne Bornheim (2) paul bica (3) Daniel Peckman

5. Redwoods, CA

redwoods california

redwoods california

redwoods california

The tallest trees on the planet hide out in a few remaining tracts of Northern California’s old-growth coastal forests. (1) m24inStudio (2) clockwise L to R: Giant Ginkgo, Mike Baird, jjgardner3 (3) Justin Brown

6. Grand Canyon, AZ

grand canyon

grand canyon

Grand Canyon

A mile down from the canyon’s rim, the Colorado River is still cutting. (1) Ignacio Izquierdo (2) Randy Pertiet (3) Steve Dunleavy

7. Mammoth Cave, KY

Mammoth Cave

mammoth cave collage

Mammoth Cave National Park protects a portion of the longest known cave system in the world. (1) Peter Rivera (2) clockwise L to R: clarkmaxwell, Peter Riviera, Insley Pruitt, Peter Riviera

8. Florida Everglades

Florida Everglades

Everglades cypress

florida everglades

The Everglades are a 60-mile-wide, super-slow-moving subtropical river covering the tip of Florida. (1) Timothy Valentine (2) Brian Koprowski (3) crow 911

9. Hubbard Glacier, AK

hubbard glacier alaska

hubbard glacier alaska

hubbard glacier alaska

Where Hubbard Glacier meets the sea, its 6-mile-wide face calves huge blocks of ice. (1) Alan Vernon (2) Mike McElroy (3) Rich Englebrecht

10. Black Hills, SD

black hills south dakota

black hills south dakota

black hills south dakota

Harney Peak (pictured at top), within the Black Hills National Forest, is the highest east of the Rockies. (1) blucolt (2) Ryan O’Hara (3) Dave Morris

11. The Mississippi

mississippi river

mississippi river

This monster river system drains 31 US states and is the fourth longest in the world. (1) Jon Haynes Photography (2) Adventures of KM&G

12. Bryce Canyon, UT

bryce canyon utah

bryce canyon utah

bryce canyon utah

Bryce can be more accurately described as an immense eroded amphitheater, populated with hoodoos (pictured at middle). (1) Todd Petrie (2) Wolfgang Staudt (3) Sam Gao

13. Mt. Desert Island, ME

mt desert island

mt desert island

mt desert island

The island is protected by Acadia National Park and is all rocky shoreline and crumbly mountain woodland. (1) Scott Kublin (2) clockwise L to R: Andrew Mace, Scott Smitson, Jim Liestman, Howard Ignatius, Frederico Robertazzi (3) A.D. Wheeler

14. Crater Lake, OR

Crater Lake, Oregon

crater lake oregon

crater lake oregon

Collapsed volcano, now a deep blue lake in southern Oregon. (1) Ninad (2) Howard Ignatius (3) Andy Spearing

15. Arches, UT

arches utah

arches utah

arches utah

The national park preserves land that’s home to over 2,000 of these weathered sandstone arches. (1) Keith Cuddeback (2) Katsrcool (3) Kartik Ramanathan

16. Yosemite Valley, CA

yosemite valley

yosemite valley

yosemite valley

Looking down the Yosemite Valley, you can see Bridalveil Falls and the granite cliff of Half Dome in the distance. (1) John Colby (2) Nietnagel (3) clockwise L to R: Craig Goodwin, Scott, Nietnagel

17. Carlsbad Caverns, NM

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns

Hall of Giants

The caverns’ “Big Room” is the third largest cave chamber in North America. (1) FMJ Shooter~Off to the last frontier (2) G (3) J.J.

18. Old Faithful, WY

old faithful

old faithful

old faithful

This geyser in Yellowstone National Park erupts a 140-foot spout of water at regular 45- to 120-minute intervals. (1) David Kingham (2) Scott Kublin (3) frazgo

Roadtrippers The open road. That’s what it’s all about. Driving down long stretches of asphalt, pulling over at a local diner for some grub, and discovering the most incredible roadside wonders. Roadtrippers is a simple but powerful road trip planner that helps you discover, plan, & book your adventure.

A minibus in El Alto, Bolivia. Image credit: Gwen Kash // CC BY-NC 2.0

Ask any group of women if they’ve ever felt unsafe on public transportation, and the stories will flow. In Mexico City, 64 percent of women reported having been groped or physically harassed while using public transit. As for New York’s subway system, 63 percent of women surveyed mentioned personal experiences of sexual harassment, while 10 percent reported sexual assault. There are disheartening statistics about women’s transportation safety around the world — it’s a borderless problem.

Unsafe transport not only causes women to change their modes of movement, it also reduces how many trips they make. This insecurity reduces household income, as inadequate transportation limits women from accessing their full educational and employment opportunities. Transit insecurity is damaging to the environment, too, as more privileged women who are afraid to walk, cycle, or take public transportation turn to polluting, private cars and taxis instead.

Of course, women can’t be treated as an undifferentiated group. Disability, class, race, age, sexuality, gender presentation, and other factors mean that not all women are equally vulnerable to crime or violence on public transportation. Men and boys can also be victimized, and it shouldn’t be assumed that every woman is a victim-in-waiting. But women around the world do share certain vulnerabilities as passengers that make it useful to analyze their needs as a group. As UCLA urban planning professor Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris has written, gender is the single most significant factor explaining transit-based fear and anxiety.

There are solutions, but many are controversial. A key concern when planning transportation safety improvements is making sure not to shift the burden onto vulnerable passengers. “Why should we put the onus on women?” Loukaitou-Sideris asks. Yet many well-intended safety measures do just that.

In the app world, there are private Uber-like services that allow women to choose female drivers. Safr, which is currently invite-only and Boston-based, pledges to pay its female drivers more than the industry standard. However, it faces legal challenges around the potentially discriminatory nature of only hiring women; such challenges have sunk similar apps.

There are also apps in India, Yemen, Lebanon, and other countries that crowdsource data on safe areas, including transport stations. These include Safecity, which collects and maps women’s reports of harassment and violence (its tagline is “Pin the Creeps”).

This problem isn’t just limited to apps. Notoriously, Mexico City has distributed rape whistles to female metro passengers. Overall, systems for reporting assault are time-consuming and onerous, particularly for low-income women who can’t afford to lose time and money visiting police stations.

Another commonly proposed but contentious solution is gender-segregated public transportation. Over a century ago, the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad experimented with women-only cars. Today, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, and Dubai are among the cities with women-only train compartments, buses, or taxis.

Port Moresby is another. The capital of Papua New Guinea has a high level of reported gender-based harassment and violence on its transportation services, ranging from verbal harassment to indecent exposure and robbery. “For women, getting on a bus in Port Moresby means an almost guaranteed experience of sexual harassment,” says Lizzette Soria, who manages the UN Women’s Safe Public Transport Programme for women and girls.

Soria adds of the three women-only buses in Port Moresby: “We know that this is just a short-term strategy, because of course our long-term [goal] is to make safer public transport for everyone. Some have suggested that women-only buses address the symptoms and not the problem, however, our first task is to make women and girls safe.” One advantage of Port Moresby’s gender-segregated buses has been their use as safe spaces to share information about women’s rights.

A women-only bus in Port Moresby. Image credit: UN Women/Marc Dozier

Measures that lead women to alter where and when they travel may be a means to an end, but they’re not nearly enough. It would be dangerous to reinforce the idea, spread by a culture of harassment, that public space isn’t fully women’s to occupy. Gwen Kash, a researcher based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who specializes in public transit reform in Bolivian and Colombian cities, points out that women-only transportation doesn’t address the needs of transgender or queer passengers who might be especially targeted but not welcomed onto gender-segregated vehicles.

The transportation safety measures that are most effective tend to be the ones favored by women themselves. You’d think this should be obvious, but in Kash’s work with transit planners she’s encountered skepticism that sexual assault on public transport is a problem, and the implication that women even enjoy the attention. Moving from acknowledging women’s experiences to actively soliciting their opinions is another big step.

Men and women often have different preferences for safety measures. One study from the U.K. Department of Transport showed that women preferred more staff on buses, while men favored CCTV. These findings have been replicated in other countries. In general, men tend toward technological solutions, while women feel more reassured by a human presence, in real time. One concern many women express about CCTV is that video-operated surveillance doesn’t help victims of crime at the time the incident is happening.

Along with more staff, women almost universally support one simple solution: lighting. The combination of better lighting and transit personnel, including officers riding on trains, is why leaders of women’s groups in Loukaitou-Sideris’ research gave the metro system in Washington, D.C., high marks for safety. Loukaitou-Sideris also praises Toronto and London for developing their transit policies with both men and women in mind.

Lighting around the Toronto coach terminal. Image credit: SimonP // CC BY-SA 3.0

In Canada in 1989, the Metropolitan Toronto Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) pioneered women’s safety audits, where women walked with transportation planners to pinpoint areas where they felt unsafe. METRAC then pushed for legislative changes based on the findings. These kinds of safety audits have spread all over the world, strengthening relationships among communities, police, and urban planners. Safer Cities Dar es Salaam reported reduced crime levels following the auditing process, while the Safer Nairobi Initiative pointed to women’s increased use of public space.

These examples show, as Loukaitou-Sideris says, that “there needs to be the political will” to drive real change in transport safety. Yes, nonprofits and community movements like METRAC in Toronto, Jagori in Delhi, and Hollaback in London have helped to make women’s transportation needs a matter of public concern. But policymakers and planners must be onboard to make large-scale improvements to transit networks. Worldwide, the legislative, planning, and transport professions remain dominated by men, which can create an invisibility around gendered needs.

A tram conductor during World War II, Leeds, England. Image credit: Ministry of Information Photo Division

Adding to the issue, amassing broad-based political will is tough in cities whose transit systems are stratified. Take Los Angeles, a famously car-centric city. Loukaitou-Sideris notes of gendered harassment on L.A.’s buses: “You don’t see much pressure from the well-to-do areas of the city. This is affecting a subgroup of the city. Often they’re immigrant women … They don’t report it to the police,” she says. Without pressure from politically mobilized and powerful city residents, officials are less likely to take action.

Urban planning scholars like Loukaitou-Sideris promote measures with a firm foundation of environmental design, which looks at how infrastructure and physical factors affect behavior. Lighting that extends from bus stops to the surrounding streets, so people feel safe walking home once they’re off the bus, is an example of that. In Port Moresby, the Safe Public Transport Programme targeted gender-sensitive infrastructure in its campaigning, alongside regulation, planning, and behavior change.

Other campaigns aim at potential harassers, assaulters, and bystanders to avoid perpetuating the idea that women’s travel is the problem. A campaign called “Don’t Touch My Girlfriend” is one (somewhat poorly titled) case from Brussels. Soria says that physical measures are one thing, but “if we don’t change attitudes and beliefs, we will continue to have harassment.”

Then there are relationship-based initiatives, which involve local community groups and perhaps transport personnel. In Port Moresby, young people played key roles in developing and delivering messages around gender equality; also, bus drivers were trained in how to identify sexual harassment and how to address it onboard.

These kinds of driver-focused initiatives aren’t always helpful, especially when transportation is informal and poorly regulated. Kash says that in Bolivian cities, where informal minibuses are common and generally a low-paid livelihood, “it’s to the driver’s advantage not to intervene” in situations of harassment and assault. If they do, they risk lost income and often unwanted confrontation.

Rural women using public transport in Mozambique. Image credit: Ton Rulkens //CC BY-SA 2.0

In general, however, expanding the ranks of female transportation operators, security officers, and transport planners — and making it more convenient for passengers to report harassment and assault to them — helps to increase the gender sensitivity of transportation.

A key lesson from the Safe Public Transport Programme in Port Moresby has been the role of political leadership. “One of the success factors has been the critical relationship between UN Women and the government,” Soria says. She credits Port Moresby’s governor, who she says has been a strong advocate for combatting gender-based violence. His administration dedicated 2016 to making the city safer for women and girls, and the transport safety program built on that work, as well as an earlier UN Women’s program on safe markets.

Public transport suffers from limited funding. That’s one reason local officials give for embracing technological solutions like CCTV over expensive, more popular steps like increased staffing. Yet not all solutions that women favor need to be costly. Panic buttons on buses, trialed in New Delhi, are one example. Another is personal request stops, offered in Toronto and Montreal, where people are allowed to exit buses at places other than designated stops.

There are also ways to optimize the use of available funds. Loukaitou-Sideris’s research in L.A. has shown that a small proportion of bus stops are hotspots for gender-based crime. Focusing attention on these areas, she says, would be a cost-effective way of targeting resources.

Plus, the limited-funding argument has its weaknesses. The growth in security measures following high-profile cases of transportation-based terrorism shows that where the political will exists to prioritize safety, funds can be accessed. Yes, major terror incidents are dramatic and traumatic. But they’re also rare. Incidents of harassment and assault on transport are not.

“Safe transit for women is good for everybody,” Kash says. More frequent services reduce the overcrowding that facilitates groping; and less crowding, would be very popular among female and male users of the frequently packed buses in Bogotá, she adds. More information about bus and train times allows passengers to more efficiently plan their trips — and women report that reduced waiting times and greater certainty about transport options make them feel safer.

TransMilenio Bus Rapid Transit stations in Bogotá and Soacha, Colombia. Image credit: Gwen Kash // CC BY-NC 2.0

There’s no magic checklist for reducing gendered transit fear, but there are commonalities in the best solutions. Have a variety of women identify their own transportation safety needs and preferred solutions. Make sure groups such as disabled or older women aren’t inadvertently excluded. Get leaders onboard. Make transport professions more gender-balanced. Don’t default to cheaper solutions like CCTV. Respect the power of human presence. Avoid placing financial burdens on low-income women who may need to prioritize other basic needs over their own safety. Remember that buses remain crucial to poorer women, all around the world. Use technology thoughtfully in conjunction with other measures.

Ultimately, though, the most important thing a transport planner can do to improve safety for women is to listen to women and girls. Asking them about their transportation needs and preferences is surprisingly rare—Loukaitou-Sideris refers to this as the “gender gap in mobility.” This neglect can lead to implementing solutions that officials think women want, like attention to safety on buses, when conversations with female passengers might reveal more concern about safety while waiting for buses.

So, first, last, and always: Just talk to women. This isn’t earth-shattering advice. But for women to feel more self-sufficient, and freer to move around their own cities, it’s the only option.

This piece was originally published at How We Get To Next and is reposted here with permission.

Some rights reserved Licence Creative Commons

A few perks for travelers

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, enjoy a free Uber ride on Jameson’s tab. If you live in Dallas, Houston, L.A., New York City, or San Francisco, Jameson will contribute 10 bucks to your safe ride home through March 19. Use the codes JAMESONDAL, JAMESONHOU, JAMESONLA, JAMESONNYC, or JAMESONSF, respectively. [Jameson Whiskey]

Monarch Airlines will upgrade you for not being a prick. If you can remain well-mannered while on the phone with Monarch’s call center staff, you will most likely receive a perk like extra legroom or a priority check-in. This will be a year-long campaign meant to “promote traditional values of chivalry, courtesy and respect.” [Independent]

Learning from our environment

Bolivia is gearing up to ship ice to Antarctica. Come May, an international team of scientists will harvest ice from Mt. Illimani and send it to the Concordia Research Station in Antarctica. The purpose is to preserve a “climatological memory” as climate change continues to disappear our glaciers worldwide. [Global Citizen]

A post shared by Juanki Segalex (@juanki_segalex) on Mar 16, 2017 at 2:34pm PDT

Climate change may start dwarfing the world’s animals. Paleontologists have discovered that some of the world’s animals shrunk by 14 percent during a warming event that happened more than 50 million years ago. They believe it’s some kind of evolutionary response to drastically warming temperatures. [Telegraph]

And it may start changing the shapes of our noses. In the past, scientists have studied human skulls to determine how our environments shape what we look like, but a new study honed in on just our noses. The findings back up a long-held claim that people who live in warm, humid climates tend to have wider nostrils while people living in chillier, dry climates have narrower nostrils. Apparently, the variety of human noses around the world is a result of natural selection, and it may continue to change with our warming climate.[The Guardian] Read more like this: How to get upgraded to first class like a boss

If you want a bit of adventure, and to actually experience South American culture and landscape rather than just pass through it, take the first turnoff and hit the countryside. The following routes are among some of the journeys you’ll want to put on your South American road trip bucket list.

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

1. Death Road, Bolivia: “The most dangerous road in the world”

bolivia-death-road

Photo: Coen Wubbels

Much has been written about the Death Road, especially with regard to cycling it with a tour agency out of La Paz. Since Bolivia built a highway around it, the road is largely void of traffic and mostly used for tourism. The Death Road starts at an altitude of 9,800 feet, winds down into the rainforest, and ends at the town of Coroico at 5,000 feet. If you’re going to drive it, leave after 11am, when the cyclists have finished.

 Isla del SolDepartamento de La Paz, BoliviaThe morning commute on Lake Titicaca’s Isla del Sol. 🐑🐑🐑

2. Transamazônica, Brazil: The longest road through the Amazon

Transamazônica, Brazil: The longest road through the Amazon

Photo: Coen Wubbels

The Trans-Amazonian Highway was built in the 1970s to open up the Amazon to the rest of Brazil. The name is somewhat misleading, as part of this 4,000km route cuts through the dry interior of Northeast Brazil (the easternmost city is João Pessoa), which is uninspiring to drive. The interesting part is the stretch through the Amazon: roughly speaking, from the infamous Belo Monte Dam project westbound to a village called Lábrea. Parts of this unpaved road may become impassable during the rainy season, when dust turns into slick red mud and bridges collapse. The best time of the year to drive it is July–Oct.

 Cânion do XingóDelmiro Gouveia, BrazilThis is the longest river – São Francisco’s River – in Brazil and in one of its parts (between the states of Alagoas, Bahia and Sergipe) there is a canyon that looks amazing. The easiest way and touristy way to reach this place is getting a tour from Aracaju city (Alagoas’ capital) with the bus and boat included. It costed 160 reais. But you can also go by car until where the boat leaves from (the town is called Canindé de São Francisco) and then take it to the river. Another cool thing about this place is the region itself: the canyon is located on the Brazilian Savannah which looks amazing especially during sunset ? From where the boat leaves you can go canoeing, go for a helicopter ride, eat local food, or do stand up surfing. The only one that is pricy is the helicopter one. #river #canyon #brazil #nature #sport

3. Carretera Austral. Chile. The sole road from north to south

 Los flamencos National ReserveSan Pedro de Atacama, ChileYeah, there’s thousands of flamingos here. They are cool. Check them out, take some photos, but then meander down the paths away from the tourists and feel wonderfully in the middle of nowhere, bathing in really pretty light and tranquility.

More than 600 miles of gravel road wind through scenery of rainforests, glaciers, volcanoes, fjords, and rivers. This is the only road connecting northern and southern Chile. It was largely constructed under Pinochet’s regime in the 1980s—initially it bore the name of Carretera General Augusto Pinochet.

Carretera austral de Tomas Sliva en 500px.com

Photo: tomassliva

4. Trans-Chaco highway, Paraquay: South America’s most unpredictable road

Cowboys doing their job de Laurenz Vorderwülbecke en 500px.com

Photo: laurenzvdw

For decades, roughly before 2009, this was known as South America’s worst road. Cars and buses could get stuck for days on end, especially in the mud during the rainy season. On this route, you can visit the Mennonite communities who arrived in the early 20th century and within two or three generations built affluent farming communities in the Chaco wilderness. Note that not all communities are keen on receiving visitors, so ask for permission before wandering about.

5. Ruta 40, Argentina: The most famous road in south america

Valle hermoso de Martin Benitez en 500px.com

Photo: benitezmartin

Some 3,000 miles separate La Quiaca in the north and Rio Gallegos in the south. You’ll see llamas and vicuñas on the altiplano and can stop for wine tours in Cafayate and Mendoza. Go now, as Argentina is paving Ruta 40 as I’m writing, which will facilitate driving but take away the sense of adventure and magic that Ruta 40 is so famous for.

 Los Pingüinos Natural MonumentPunta Arenas, ChileIf you’re in Punta Arenas this 5hr round trip is definitely worth checking out. Yeah, you’re with a bunch of other tourists, but the 130,000 Penguins located throughout the tiny island make up for it. #puntaarenas #patagonia

6. BR-319, BRAZIL: South America’s worst highway

BR-319, Brazil: South America's worst highway

Photo: Coen Wubbels

This 800km road runs from Porto Velho to Manaus. Like the Transamazônica, the BR-319 was built by Brazil’s military regime in the 1970s with the intent to open up the Amazon rainforest for economic purposes. However, as it was one of the first roads through the Amazon, know-how was minimal, and the road was built on swampland. This, together with annual floods that washed away dozens of bridges, contributed to the road falling into disuse. Nowadays, all trucks go by boat, and only the adventurous attempt it, camping rough along the way.

 Amazon Eco AdventuresManaus, BrazilMy first view of the mighty Amazon River as I fly into Manaus, Brazil. It was a very surreal feeling to say the least.

7. Salar de Utuni, Bolivia: South America’s smoothest road surface

 UyuniDaniel Campos, Bolivia#extreme

The world’s largest salt flat is technically not a road, but driving here is absolutely mind-blowing. The white ocean of salt is hemmed in by the Andes Mountains and looks like fresh snow that’s not yet been disturbed by footsteps. Most travelers visit the salt flat with an organized tour from Uyuni, but you can also rent a car and go on your own. The advantage is the opportunity you have to rough camp, which was one of our most overpowering experiences in South America. Note that Salar de Uyuni lies at 12,500 feet, so take measures to prevent altitude sickness.

8. Wetlands of the pantanal, Brazil: South America’s best wildlife spotting

 PantanalFlorianópolis, BrazilLife along the world’s largest wetlands; The Pantanal in Southwestern Brazil is home to some incredible wildlife, including the piranhas these guys are fishing for. #fishing #brazil

The Pantanal, the largest inland wetland in the world, is one of the most pristine and biologically rich environments on the planet. With more than 200 species of fish, 120 species of mammals, almost 100 different reptiles, and at least 600 types of birds, it’s a favorite among birdwatchers, wildlife spotters, and lovers of fishing. Make sure you have permission from the fazendas (ranches) you’re bound tp cross the pantanal. A sturdy 4WD is a must.

 Praia da Lagoinha LesteFlorianópolis, BrazilThe views were well worth the hike from Lagoinha do Leste in Florianopolis, Brazil. This island has some of the most amazing beaches I have ever witnessed in my life. #Brazil #Floripa

DESPITE being terrifying natural phenomena, volcanoes are also fascinating — we never know when the fiery power contained deep within the Earth will manifest itself, but we know the spectacle will be formidable. We selected some beautiful photographs of volcanoes from around the world that we hope will inspire you to go see them in person.

Ethiopia

Erta Ale Volcano

Erta Ale is a continuously active shield volcano. It last erupted in January 2017.

Volcanoes

Photo: Indrik myneur

Guatemala

Volcán de Fuego

Volcán de Fuego is a highly active volcano. If you’re lucky, you can see its full fury.

Photo: Arthur Wei

Indonesia

Mount Sinabung

Mount Sinabung’s last eruption was in May 2016.

Volcanoes

Photo: Yosh Ginsu

volcanoes

Photo: Yosh Ginsu

Democratic Republic of Congo

Nyiragongo Volcano

Nyiragongo Volcano contains the world’s most active and largest lava lake.

Volcanoes

Photo: Cai Tjeenk Willink

Hawai’i

Kīlauea, The Big Island of Hawai’i

You can take boat tours to check out Kīlauea’s lava pouring into the Pacific Ocean up close.

volcanoes

Photo by Buzz Andersen

Volcanoes

Photo by Mandy Beerley

Haleakalā, Māui

Haleakalā volcano is currently dormant, but the Haleakalā National Park on the Hawaiian island of Māui is still a great place to check out craters. Note: Once a volcano has been dormant for more than 10 000 years, it is termed extinct.

volcanoes

Photo by Jeff King

Ecuador

Tungurahua Volcano

Photo: Diariocritico de Venezuela

Iceland

Holuhraun Lava Field

volcanoes

Photo: Sparkle Motion

Eyjafjallajökull

Eyjafjallajökull’s eruption in the spring of 2010 threw volcanic ash several kilometers up in the atmosphere, which led to air travel disruption in Europe for several days.

Volcanoes

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Bolivia

Volcán Licancabur

Volcán Licancabur stands 19,400ft in southwestern Bolivia, fronted by the minerally colored Laguna Verde. It can be reached and climbed in conjunction with tours to the nearby Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. Volcán Licancabur is dormant.

Volcan Licancabur, Bolivia

Photo: szeke

Italy

Mount Etna

Mount Etna is Europe’s largest active volcano.

Mount Etna erupting

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Russia

Volcano Gorely

Volcano Gorely consists of five overlapping stratovolcanoes and is one of the most active in southern Kamchatka. It last erupted in June 2010.

Volcanoes

Photo: Kuhnmi

Volcano Vilyuchinsky

Volcano Vilychinsky seen from volcano Gorely on a misty morning.

Volcanoes

Photo: Kuhnmi

Papua New Guinea

Tavurvur Volcano

Tavurvur Volcano last erupted in 2010.

volcanoes

Photo: Taro Taylor

Lonely Planet Bolivia (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Bolivia is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Tour the world's largest salt flat, walk in the path of the Inca or search for magic potions in La Paz markets; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Bolivia and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Bolivia Travel Guide:

Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, religion, politics, indigenous cultures, weaving, music, dance, landscapes, wildlife. Over 40 maps Covers La Paz, Lake Titicaca, the Yungas, the Cordilleras, the Southern Altiplano, Salar de UyuniCochabambaPotosiSanta Cruz, the Amazon Basin and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Bolivia , our most comprehensive guide to Bolivia, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet South America on a Shoestring guide.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

Bolivia tried to kill us: A year trekking and travelling in South America

Tony Hastie

Why should you never take chocolate onto a Bolivian bus? What do you do when you’ve found out your tent has shrunk when you’re in the Patagonian wilderness? Are there dog hire kiosks in South America? How lonely can a planet be when you're sitting in a 10 seater mini-van with 25 other people? Where is the world’s most dangerous toilet? Should you give up successful careers to go looking for the answers to these questions?? We did. 12 treks, four dogs and 50 000km of bus travel later we found them. Actually, we found much more... Includes travel in Central America.

Lonely Planet Bolivia (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

#1 best-selling guide to Bolivia*

Lonely Planet Bolivia is your passport to all the most relevant and up-to-date advice on what to see, what to skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Venture through the world's largest salt flat, trek in the Cordillera Real, or take in the sunset from your ridge-top lodge at Isla del Sol; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Bolivia and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Bolivia Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries show you the simplest way to tailor your trip to your own personal needs and interests Insider tips save you time and money and help you get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - including hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, and prices Honest reviews for all budgets - including eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, and hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer and more rewarding travel experience - including culture, religion, history, sports, music, dance, politics, flora, and fauna Over 42 local maps Useful features - including Top Experiences, Month-by-Month (annual festival calendar), and Bolivia Outdoors Coverage of La Paz, the Amazon Basin, Santa Cruz, Gran Chiquitania, South Central Bolivia, the Chaco, Southern Altiplano, the Cordilleras & Yungas, Lake Titicaca, the Central Highlands, and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Bolivia, our most comprehensive guide to Bolivia, is perfect for those planning to both explore the top sights and take the road less travelled.

Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet's South America on a Shoestring for a comprehensive look at all the region has to offer.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, Greg Benchwick, and Paul Smith.

About Lonely Planet: Started in 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel guide publisher with guidebooks to every destination on the planet, as well as an award-winning website, a suite of mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet's mission is to enable curious travellers to experience the world and to truly get to the heart of the places they find themselves in.

TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards 2012 and 2013 winner in Favorite Travel Guide category

'Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other.' - New York Times

'Lonely Planet. It's on everyone's bookshelves; it's in every traveller's hands. It's on mobile phones. It's on the Internet. It's everywhere, and it's telling entire generations of people how to travel the world.' - Fairfax Media (Australia)

*Bestselling guide to Bolivia Source: Nielsen BookScan. Australia, UK and USA, December 2011 to November 2012.

Bolivia (National Geographic Adventure Map)

National Geographic Maps - Adventure

• Waterproof • Tear-Resistant • Travel Map

Let National Geographic's Bolivia Adventure Map guide you as you explore this South American country with one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. Quickly find your destination with the aid of a user-friendly index of cities, towns and protected areas. Then plan your route using the mapped road network, complete with distances and designations for major and secondary roads as well as tracks and trails for those seeking to travel off the beaten path. Other travel network features include airports, airfields, railroads, ferry routes and border crossings. In addition, hundreds of cultural, historical, ecological and recreational points of interest are pinpointed, such as camping areas, archeological sites, geysers, spas, churches and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The map's north side covers the country from its northern borders with Brazil and Peru down to the capital of La Paz, including Madidi and Noel Kempff Mercado National Parks, Tiwanaku and Lake Titicaca. While the south side covers the more mountainous southern half of the country from La Paz to the borders with Paraguay, Chile and Argentina. Included are the cities of Potosi and Sucre, Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve and the world's largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni. With such an abundance of specialized content, along with its topographic features, this map is the perfect compliment to any guidebook to the country.

Every Adventure Map is printed on durable synthetic paper, making them waterproof, tear-resistant and tough — capable of withstanding the rigors of international travel.

Map Scale = 1:1,415,000Sheet Size = 37.75" x 25.5"Folded Size = 4.25" x 9.25"

The Rough Guide to Bolivia

Shafik Meghji

This new, fully-updated edition of The Rough Guide to Bolivia helps you discover both the big sights and the hidden gems, with expert reviews of the best places to stay, eat and drink for everyone from backpackers to five-star travelers.

The introduction will help you choose where to go and what to see, inspired by dozens of stunning photos. The Things Not To Miss section runs through all the must-sees, while the Itineraries guide you around the country's highlights. Navigation through the book and on the ground is aided by clear color maps with every chapter. Each map is keyed with all the accommodation, eating and drinking options, nightlife venues and shops that are reviewed in detail in the Listings chapters.

From the shimmering blue waters of Lake Titicaca to the blindingly white salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni, the snow-capped peaks of the Andes and the verdant rainforests of the Amazon, Bolivia's diverse landscapes astound. The country is incredibly rich in culture and history, boasting ancient pre-Inca ruins, fascinating witches' markets, vibrant carnivals and some of South America's finest colonial architecture. There are also plenty of activities for thrill seekers, including cycling down the world's most dangerous road, exploring legendary silver mines, swimming with pink river dolphins and retracing the footsteps of Che Guevara.

Make the most of your time on Earth™ with The Rough Guide to Bolivia.

Bolivia: Bolivia Travel Guide for Your Perfect Bolivian Adventure!: Written by Local Bolivian Travel Expert

Project Nomad

Are You Full of Wanderlust? Do You Want to See Somewhere Unique, Exciting, and Untouched by Tourism?Bolivia is a place of natural beauty with a landscape that is rugged, raw, and complex. Its snowy mountains, exotic forests and rolling hills will throw you straight into a painting you’ll never want to leave. With flora and fauna unique to the region hidden just inside the virgin rainforests, every tree offers up a glimpse at a new world.In the cities, you’ll discover a uniquely blended society that combines both European and indigenous culture to form a remarkable melting-pot that must be experienced first-hand. Through rich food, culture, and art, this landlocked South American nation proves that it is like nowhere else in the world.But why this guide? Who am I to show you Bolivia?As a local Bolivian travel writer, it is my privilege to provide you with the very best guide possible for the very best adventure possible! By getting a guide written by a local, you are offered insights not covered in standard guidebooks. After all, you cannot ask a tourist in Italy where the best place to eat pasta is! The same is true in Bolivia. With my lifetime of experience and knowledge, I can take you on a stunning and unique adventure through Bolivia you’ll want to experience again and again. This Guide Will Include:The best places to visit (including all the major cities)Cultural tipsThe history of important cities and sitesMust-have knowledge of the countryInformation on popular festivals and events

Bolivia in Focus: A Guide to the People, Politics, and Culture (In Focus Guides) (The in Focus Guides)

Robert J. Werner

This land of colorful cultures and stunning landscapes offers the curious visitor and student an unending stream of extraordinary things. From a fantastic archeological record to llama fetuses in the Witch s Market, from the coca story to the hemisphere s first indigenous president, the history and cultures of Bolivia is an eye-opening experience.But behind its breathtaking scenery and welcoming culture lies a more complex country facing serious political instability and environmental threat. Bolivia in Focus helps the traveler who aspires to be well-informed to understand the wider picture and build up an overall knowledge of the country. It also gives the reader a thought-provoking introduction to the sources of tension in Bolivia, the poorest country in South America, and the people s struggle for social justice that has been missing since the arrival of colonialism five hundred years ago.Bolivia in Focus is an authoritative and up-to-date guide to this captivating country. It explores the land and people, history, economy, politics, society, culture and religion, and includes the author s tips on must-see landmarks and historical sites and how to get the most out of a brief visit.

Bolivia Travel Reference Map 1:1,25M

ITMB Publishing

As a travel destination, Bolivia definitely ranks among the routes less travelled! However, it is a fascinating country and well-worth visiting. We have printed this edition on plasticized paper for durability, as one will definitely need a map to get around this mountainous country. The map shows the road network to best advantage, with distances between communities whenever possible Touristic sites are noted, and elevations, parks, and reserves. Inset maps of La PazPotosi, and Santa Cruz de la Sierra are included.

Exercise a high degree of caution

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations occur regularly throughout Bolivia, often with little notice. Avoid all demonstrations and public gatherings, as they may turn violent. Do not attempt to cross roadblocks, even if they appear unattended, to avoid possible confrontation.

All roads in the border areas, especially along the Bolivia–Peru border, and roads leading to La Paz’s international airport (located in El Alto) are particularly vulnerable to blockades. 

Review your travel plans to determine if they will be affected by demonstrations or civil unrest, take personal security measures and monitor media reports.

Crime

You should remain alert to your surroundings at all times, dress down, avoid wearing jewellery or carrying large sums of money or credit cards, and keep cameras and electronic equipment out of sight. Secure your valuables in a hotel safe. Avoid small restaurants away from downtown and tourist areas.

Petty theft, including pickpocketing, purse snatching, vehicle theft and auto parts theft, is common throughout large cities.

Organized robbery occurs. Typically, members of a group of thieves will distract victims by staging a fight, starting a conversation, blocking a sidewalk, or throwing an object or liquid on the victims, while others rob them.

Robbery and assaults occur at tourist destinations. You should be especially careful when walking around tourist areas in La Paz, such as Sarganaga Street, the San Francisco Church vicinity and the historical Jaen Street, and when hiking in the areas surrounding La Paz, such as La Muela del Diablo. When travelling near Rurrenabaque in the Bolivian Andes, Los Yungas, and on the Inca trails, remain in large groups and only join tours organized by reputable tour operators.

Express kidnappings by organized gangs have been reported. Tourists are held for ransom, often in a car, and are robbed or forced to use their bank cards to withdraw cash. Radio taxis hailed on the street have been involved in such incidents. Do not allow anyone else in your taxi; they may be accomplices. Special attention should be paid when taking a taxi to and from airports. Express kidnappings occur most frequently in major cities such as La PazSanta Cruz and Cochabamba, and between Copacabana and Desaguadero (on the Peruvian border). The Copacabana–Desaguadero route should be avoided after 2 p.m. It is recommended to take direct buses from Copacabana to La Paz rather than to transfer buses at the Desaguadero border crossing.

Exercise vigilance in La Paz bus terminals, especially the one near the La Paz cemetery and the main bus terminal (located on Peru Avenue in Zona Norte). In Cochabamba, avoid Coronilla Hill (adjacent to the main bus terminal); local authorities caution people to enter Coronilla Hill at their own risk, as assaults have been reported. Violent crimes and armed robberies against foreigners have also been reported in the Santa Cruz bus/train terminal.

Criminals often pose as police officers and then ask to examine the traveller’s belongings or ask the traveller to accompany them to a police station. Bogus police stations are sometimes set up to scam tourists. Under Bolivian law, you are not obliged to follow a police officer unless he or she has a formal written request from a judge with your name on it, and any search or seizure must occur at a bona fide police station in the presence of the prosecutor.

Criminals posing as tourists may approach the traveller and offer to share transportation (usually a taxi), which proceeds to a remote place where the traveller is robbed. In other cases, a criminal posing as a police officer intercepts the traveller interacting with an accomplice, who is posing as a tourist and carrying contraband material such as drugs. The “police officer” takes the traveller to a bogus police station and seizes documents, debit cards and credit cards.

In the Chapare area between Santa Cruz and Cochabamba and in the Yungas region, northeast of La Paz, violence and civil unrest, mainly associated with drug trafficking, may cause delays and risks to travellers. In the departments of Santa Cruz, Pando and Beni, police presence has intensified due to increases in drug-related crimes. The situation is also tense in areas along Bolivia's border with Peru.

Scams

Canadians visiting Bolivia in order to undergo a surgical procedure have reported falling victim to scams by medical companies that insist on retaining passports as collateral. Once the procedure has been completed, the company attempts to extort more money from the patient before returning their passport. If your passport is inaccessible because of such a situation, you may be subject to investigation by Passport Canada and may receive limited passport services.

Consult our page entitled Receiving Medical Care in Other Countries if you are contemplating undergoing a medical procedure in Bolivia.

Tourists travelling to Bolivia have fallen victim to scams in which cocaine is hidden inside objects or luggage that they have been asked to bring back by an acquaintance. There are reported cases of this scam being perpetrated through dating websites. The new Internet acquaintance asks the foreigner to go to Bolivia, on the pretext of picking up personal belongings or legal documents on his or her behalf. When police determine that the backpack or briefcase allegedly containing the acquaintance’s belongings or documents contains cocaine, the foreign citizen is detained at the airport and subsequently sent to a Bolivian prison. Drugs can be hidden in ways that are not clear to the naked eye, including being dissolved into clothing or fabric. Bolivian drug laws feature a zero tolerance policy and do not differentiate between intentional and unintentional drug smuggling. Exercise extreme caution when asked to carry objects or luggage for other people and do not, under any circumstance, carry luggage for a stranger.

Road travel

Road conditions in Bolivia are very poor. Although the major population centres of La PazSanta CruzCochabamba and Sucre are connected by improved highways, less than 5 percent of all roads in Bolivia are paved.

For trips outside major cities, especially in mountainous areas, a four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended. Risks include most drivers' lack of formal training, unlit vehicles speeding at night and drunk drivers, including drivers of commercial buses. Weather conditions can also make road travel hazardous.

Roadblocks are a common occurrence throughout Bolivia and can cause significant disruptions to transportation, even in remote parts of the country. More information on roads to avoid is available from the Bolivian Highway Administration (in Spanish only).

Public transportation

Public transportation, including buses, trains, shared taxis and mini-buses, is unsafe. Use only tour buses from reputable companies for trips. Avoid extensive travel on foot.

Do not hail taxis on the street and decline transportation from people offering a cheaper fare. It is recommended to call known radio taxi companies from a landline.

Air travel

Travel plans may be affected by demonstrations or strikes. Prior to departure, check with your airlines to determine if there are delays or changes in flight schedules.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Emergency services

Dial 110 for local police, 118 for ambulance services and 119 to reach the fire department. Dial (2) 222-5016 to contact the tourist police in La Paz. Some tourist police officers do speak English, but service in French is not available.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination may be recommended depending on your itinerary.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in South America, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South America. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in South America, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness)West Nile virus and yellow fever.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.
Leishmaniasis, cutaneous and mucosal

Cutaneous and mucosal leishmaniasis causes skin sores and ulcers. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from sandfly bites, which typically occur after sunset in rural and forested areas and in some urban centres. There is no vaccine available for leishmaniasis.


Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in South America, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Most clinics and hospitals in Bolivia accept payment in cash only.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Illegal drugs

Possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs is severely punished. Do not, under any circumstance, carry a stranger's baggage. If you are visiting non-tourist locations, especially coca-growing areas, exercise great vigilance and do not carry a camera or binoculars.

Laws

Imprisoned individuals may have to wait several years before their sentencing. Significant language barriers may arise and translators may not be provided free of charge to prisoners in Bolivia. Jail conditions are primitive, and prisoners have to pay for their cells and daily subsistence.

It is illegal to remove any item that the Bolivian government considers to be a national treasure, including pre-Columbian artifacts, certain historical paintings, items of Spanish colonial architecture and history, some native textiles, and certain flora, fauna and fossils. Any type of excavation for fossils or collecting fossils without prior written authorization is illegal.

Unlicensed bars in Bolivia are illegal and are known to sell drugs and, therefore, should not be frequented. You may be detained and questioned if the establishment is raided, even if you are not consuming illegal substances.

An International Driving Permit is required to rent a vehicle.

Culture

You should be careful when travelling with cameras and communication devices, particularly in remote areas, as some locals may find the presence of photographers intrusive. Ask for permission before you photograph people.

Money

The currency is the boliviano (BOB). It is almost impossible to exchange Canadian dollars (cash or traveller's cheques) in Bolivia. Use credit cards, U.S. dollars or bolivianos for purchases. Automated banking machines are available in major cities.

Climate

Travelling during the rainy season (November through March) is difficult, as many roads become impassable. In particular, the Uyuni Salt Flats become dangerous to navigate in the rainy season. Heavy rains may contribute to dangerous landslides. Water- and insect-borne diseases may also become a threat. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.