Outdoor Gear For Rent
Adventures By Activity In Bolivia
Cultural Tours in Bolivia
CULTURAL TOURS IN BOLIVIA
Touching the Sky: Sacred Lakes, Mountains and Glaciers
Up in the clouds. Close to the stars. Touching the sky. That is what we call this region, the Altiplano, bathed in the sacred waters of Titicaca and beneath the majestic peaks of the Andes. And in it is La Paz, the city of the "starry sky", the ancient Tiwanaku and a never-ending chain of high mountains and spectacular glaciers.
La Paz is the most important city in Bolivia. Situated at an altitude of over 3,640 meters, it is also the highest capital in the world. lt is a metropolis of narrow streets and unique topographical features, and from where the majestic lllimanI can be observed. In La Paz, the most important of all the Andean cities of Aymará origin, the most ancient and the most modern are combined to perfection. The modernity of its wide avenues exists alongside the ethnic variety and different customs of its population. Colonial and republican architecture remains intact alongside newer buildings that symbolize the city's progress. The original centre of the city is the Plaza
Valley of The Moon
This disturbing place is very near to La Paz, a valley with a unique lunar appearance. Erosion has formed an amazing labyrinth of small gorges, sharp pinnacles and surprising stalagmites. The result is an area which is strangely and enormously beautiful, to which many citizens come to get away from the pressures of the capital.
A wide plateau with north-south and east-west mountain ranges, some at an altitude of more than 3,500 meters and covering an area of over 100,000 square kilometers.
lt would not be going too far to say that there is no other natural landmark that is as shrouded in myth and legend as the Sacred Lake or Titicaca. The lake has 36 islands with rugged, irregular coasts and incredibly clear waters. lnca culture considers the islands of the Sun and the Moon to be the birthplaces of all creation. The city of Copacabana is located between two hills that offer impressive views of the lake. Other important islands are Suriqui, Kalahuta and lntja which, according to legend, used to have an underground network of funnels that connected the island to the capital of the Empire, Cuzco, in Peru.
Known as the "Birthplace of American Men", Tiwanaku is the capital of the Tiwanakota culture, which was at its strongest three centuries before Christ. It is72 km away from La Paz, not far from Lake Titicaca. The remains of this ancient civilization still exist in megalithic form, with symbolic inscriptions that still have not been deciphered. The quality of the stonework, ceramics and, most especially, of the hydraulic engineering that was used, are the reasons why these ruins are considered the most important of all those that document the history of Andean culture. The origins of this civilization, whose ruins have been partially restored, are shrouded in mystery.
White Deserts and Colored Lagoons
This volcanic semi-desert region contains resources of extraordinary natural beauty united by one common feature: color. The Uyuni Dry Salt Lake and the green, yellow and sky-blue Lagoons are the clearest indicators of this.
The Uyuni Dry Salt Lake
Spreading over 12,000 square kilometers, it is considered to be the world's largest salt flat. Within the lake, there are virgin uninhabited islands that are the habitat of immense cacti and strange flowers. The Uyuni Dry Salt Lake forms part of Lake Minchín, a Salt Lake or prehistoric inland sea, which covered most of the of the south west of Bolivia. The views of the salt sea, which changes color according to the light as the day progresses, are particularly beautiful from it and are a real pleasure for lovers of photography.
Laguna Colorada (The multi-colored lagoon)
lt is also known as "the nest of the Andes" as it is home to over 3,000 flamingos of three different species which nest there and make the area one of the world's best for observing them. The area is also home to South America's biggest Parina chica population as well as other species such as Soca cornuda, which is currently in danger of extinction, and other threatened species, such as the Suri. The most common mammals are the vicuna, the vizcacha and the llama. The vizcacha rocks, geysers, live volcanic craters, and Daliesque rock formations all make up what is an impressive panorama.
La Laguna Verde (The Green Lagoon)
Located in the extreme south of the Lípez desert, it is a landscape suggestive of the end of the world. The Green Lagoon's incredible minor-like water, similar to a giant emerald constantly changing in tone, dazzles the onlooker in different ways with the passing of the day. There is an enormous wealth of flora and fauna from the high Andes and the semi-desert plateau. Among the most outstanding species of flora are the Yareta and Keñua, as well as 45 bird species, of which the flamingo groups stand out especially. Located very close to the Laguna stands the magnificent 5,868-metre-talI Licancabur volcano, one of the area's best for mountain climbing.
ln the Lípez desert there are other lakes of many and surprising colors, such as Cachilaguna, Laguna Hedionda, as well as some others that are associated with geothermal activity. Around these oases of life, surrounded by volcanoes that are testimony to a turbulent subsoil, the region's true owners can be found: The Pink James Flamingos, soaking their legs in the freezing waters.
Cultural, Agricultural and Archaeological Routes
A journey in the region leads to unforgettable experiences with the people who live there. The local population is of Quechua and Aymará extraction, and are always ready to offer their hospitality. Archaeological ruins, silver and copper mining centers like Pulacayo and the train graveyard at Uyuni are all worth a visit.
Modern facilities and history
The modern world and history meet in the region consisting of the towns of Cochabamba and Santa Cruz and the area around, where Jesuit missions are common. The untouched nature of the villages, the large livestock ranches, the archaeological sites and the craftsmanship...all form part of its attraction.
A walk through the town's old centre takes you past the City Cultural Hall (Casa Municipal de Cultura), the University's Auditorium (Paraninfo), the History Museum, the Social Club, the metropolitan Cathedral and the Departmental Prefecture and City Hall, among other places. The church was reconstructed in 1770, and in 1838, during Mariscal Andrés de Santa Cruz's government, the old church was replaced by an eclectically styled new one, designed by the French architect Phillippe Bestres. Due to the modern hotel accommodation and tourist services that it offers, Santa Cruz is the ideal base for cultural tours or to organize all types of meetings and congresses.
lts outbursts of green have made it famous as the garden city. The Armas 14 de Septiembre square; the Portales palace, built by Simón Patiño, the King of tin, and the old churches of San Francisco, Santo Domingo, the Company of Jesús and Santa Teresa are the main attractions, as well as the Achá theatre which is today on the site of the church of Sant AgustÍn. Other tourist centers can be easily reached, such as the Chapare region, bathed by rivers and exotic flora.
Chiquitanía and the Jesuit Missions
Several jungle tribes lived in the marvelous Chiquitos area in the pre-Columbus era, and were evangelized by Company of Jesus missionaries who built Spanish villages in the middle of thick jungle. Their value is mainly in their churches' architecture, a mixed Baroque in style, decorated with murals, golden altars and marvelous altarpieces cut in gold plated woods, pulpits, chests and stunning columns. The result was marvelous churches like San Javier, Concepción, San Rafael, San Miguel, Santa Ana, and San José de Chiquitos, declared part of Humanity's Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. The indigenous skills of the Chiquitanos can be seen in several forms of craftsmanship, such as wood cuttings, weaving, pottery, basket making and the making of musical instruments.
The beauty of the surrounding means that its real name translates as the Village in the Valley of Purification. Founded in colonial times, among its main attractions are the church of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria and the Provinces' Archaeological Museum. However, the main attraction is undoubtedly the Fort, or as it has been recently called, the Ceremonial Centre, which is the epicenter of the archaeological sites in the entire valleys area, of world-wide importance in terms of size and quality. lt is a pre-Colombian monument of sculpted stone, immense in size and value, 200m long, 60m wide and 23m in length, in which interesting zoomorphic figures can be seen.
Vineyards and Golden Pampa
Situated in the south of Bolivia, this region continues the geomorphology of the inter-andean areas, with deep valleys and the Bermejo plains. The town of Tarija is the hub of the area, a valley drained by the Pilcomayo, Guadalquivir, Tarija and Bermejo rivers, where the hospitality of the inhabitants is one of the region's main attractions.
The Silver Valley
A garden valley where roses and vines are cultivated and wine and liqueurs produced... and where you can be assured of a warm welcome from the inhabitants.
Located in the south, in the foothills of the Andes and on the banks of the Guadalquivir, the town of Tarija remains one of the places that have best preserved its Hispanic atmosphere, typical of the colonial era. lt is an intense green in color, and its population, happy, cheerful and open, is its greatest asset. Lovers of music, mate and having a good time, the town's residents have made their carnival an institution attracting both national and international tourism because of its deep traditions. As in most Bolivian provincial capitals, the most outstanding monuments are of a religious nature. Among them are the Franciscan convent, the cathedral and the church of San Roque.
Small and relaxed, the town of Tupiza acts as the base for a number of excursions along routes with a large variety of rocky formations, deep gorges, passes and cactus forests. lt rs surrounded by the steep Chichas Mountains, and its outskirts, with iridescent rocks, hills and mountains, with a predominance of red, are always surprising. lt seems to take us back to the Far West. In fact, this region was once one of the places where the adventures of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid took place.
Feast Days and Tradition
The Tarija Chaco folk festival and music from across the Pampas is heard, including chacareras, handkerchief dances and the happy dancing of the people. All of this accompanied by the ethnic sounds of charangos, guitars, several types of flutes, water boxes, as well as other instruments which are typically used in Chapaca music. The immense variety of colors in the peoples' dress is not absent, including ensembles made from molluscs and hats adorned with multicolored feathers.
Wines and Vineyards
The region of Tarija is known for its wines, some of which are very tasteful. The wine cellars can be visited and it is a pleasant experience to taste the wines while listening to the poetic and sensual descriptions of the different varieties provided by the owners of the cellars. Aside from wine, all of the wine cellars produce "singani", a very peculiar distilled liquor made with distilled grapes. The Valley of Conception is the heart of wine and singani production. The Grape Festival takes place in March and lasts 3 days, celebrating the end of the grape harvest.
Colonial wealth: Silver and Dinosaurs
Sucre and Potosí are considered part of humanity's cultural heritage and are the hub of this region where colonial inheritance, the historic past and, of course, the remains of the old silver-producing mines, are the main tourist attraction. There is also the chance to see areas of great natural beauty and indigenous villages that will take you closer to popular traditions and customs.
ln the colonial period, it was the most important center of the Spanish empire in this part of Latin America. The constitutional character of its capital city status is accentuated even further by the presence of the San Francisco Xavier University, one of the oldest in America. The Casa de la Libertad (Freedom House), one of the country's most symbolic buildings where the Declaration of Independence was signed, is situated there. Around the place there is also the sixteenth-century Cathedral. Other religious buildings, such as the La Merced, San Francisco, San Miguel and Recoleta churches are true architectural jewels that must not be missed.
The area around Sucre has a great deal of paleontological value. Not far from Sucre, there are the dinosaur tracks at Cal'orcko that are an area of great scientific attraction, with over 20 different types of tracks in pieces of rock that are over 800 m long and 60 m wide. Dinosaur tracks can also be seen at the Farallón de Orepajla, and in the vicinity of the town of Quila Quila.
The Market at Tarabuco
65 km from Sucre is one of the most traditional markets in the Andes. Despite the village of Tarabuco being constructed for strategic reasons – to block access to the pass to Chiriguano lndian expeditions - it is today famous for its market and inhabitants, who preserve their special ethnic features of slender faces and tallness. The Sunday market takes place in the center of the village and attracts the Indians from the surrounding areas. Everyone wears dark red striped ponchos, and a helmet made from heat treated leather (montera) in imitation of the conquistadores.
One of the great attractions is the legendary Cerro Rico de Potosí, or mining mountain, which dominates the town and its mines. The silver led to the creation of the Casa Real de la Moneda (the Royal Mint), which is undoubtedly the most important building in civil colonial architecture in Latin America. ln 1987, UNESCO declared it to be part of humanity's natural and cultural heritage, affirming its "exceptional and universal value that must be protected as an asset belonging to each and every one of us". Toro Toro, an important network of caves and caverns with prehistoric paintings, dinosaur tracks, fossilized remains, spearheads and various enormously valuable archaeological remains taking the visitor back to the beginning of human history, are near Potosí.
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