As the fifth largest country in South America, Bolivia is home to extremes. The different regions can range from having freezing cold snowy mountains or extreme heat in the amazon lowlands! Although the climate ranges from region to region, it is still a spectacular place to visit due to their culture, attractions, and adventures the country offers. The country is incredibly filled with diversity: it isn’t limited to only mountains, but also Amazon jungles, deserts, and many more. Look around and there are different ethnic groups that help keep the traditions alive today.
Their cuisine is a combination of Spanish and Aymara/Inca cultures. Other influences that came later includes German, Italian, Basque, Russian, Polis, and Arab immigrants. The main traditional dishes include corn, potatoes, quinoa, and beans. These ingredients are then combined with Spanish staples that was brought over. Each region have different cuisines. For example, Western Bolivia uses spices due to the cold weather. However, in the lowlands of Bolivia, there are more products such as fruits, vegetables, etc. It is because these are more accessible in the region.
- Salteñas — Baked empanada that is filled with beef, pork, or chicken and mixed in a sweet or spicy sauce. Each region have a different variation.
- Silpancho — Popular food in Cochabamba. The dish is created with rice, boiled/sliced potatoes, and thin layers of meat, chopped tomatoes, and a mixture of onion, beet, and parsley with fried egg. There are other ways to make this dish, but this is the classic.
- Pique macho — The basic ingredient consists of bite-sized pieces of beef and french-fry cut potatoes. In addition, onions, locoto, boiled eggs, mustard, mayonnaise, and ketchup is added into the mixture.
- Ch’arki — Dried and salted meat. It is usually llama, horse, and beef.
- Choripán — Sandwich with chorizo.
With their vast diversity of nature and culture, Bolivia has become one of the most designated place to travel to!
As previously mentioned, Bolivia is very diverse! On one end, you are able to see the Amazon jungle. On the other end, you are able to see pristine mountains. Both sites are on opposite spectrum, in terms of climate. In addition, there are many different ethnic group is help keeps their tradition. Each ethnic group have their own language and customs. It’s time to start your experience in Bolivia.
- Salar de Uyuni — It is the world’s largest salt flat. It was formed because of the transformation of several prehistoric lakes. It is termed as ‘Heaven meets Earth’ because only a few inches of water is on the ground, which creates a reflection.
- Isla del Sol — This term means Island of the Sun. There is a legend here which the Incas believed the god that created the universe, emerged from Lake Titicaca and created the sun here. It is a great place to explore and enjoy the scenery.
- Laguna Colorada — It is also known as Red Lagoon. It gets its name from the shallow salt lake containing borax islands, where the white color contrasts with the reddish color of its water.
- Laguna Verde — “Green Lake”. It is a salt lake that sits at the foot of two volcanoes, Licancabur and Juriques. Mineral suspensions of arsenic and other minerals contribute to the color of the lake. The color varies from turquoise to dark emeralds due to the wind disturbing the sediments in the lake.
Bolivia has some of the best nightlife in the world. It is the reason why some travelers tend to extend their stay longer than intended. There are a variety of bars and pubs out there! For example, hostel bars, which are great for those who are backpacking. Others include cocktail bars, secret bars, wines, and English pubs. For those who are curious to where the nightlife starts, it is in La Paz (though not limited to only this location). Not only is this a great night place, but in the day time, it offers local festivals, historical sites, and other attractions.
The main currency of Bolivia is boliviano (Bs). The first boliviano was introduced in 1864 and the second one was introduced in 1987. Coins come in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 centavo and 1 boliviano. The exchange rate is 1 Bs to $0.14 USD, with fluctuating rates.
Customs & Language
The official languages of Bolivia are Spanish and all Indigenous languages. The reason for all Indigenous languages is due to the 2009 Constitution. However, depending on regions, different languages are spoken. In the Andes region, Spanish and Quechua are mainly spoken. In Altiplano, Aymara is mainly spoken. In the central part of Santa Cruz, Chiquitano is mainly spoken. Lastly, in the southeast, Garani is mainly spoken. Their culture derives from different people: Spanish, colonizers, and indigenous groups from Andes and mestizos. Spanish influences are prevalent in the religious arts and developed by indigenous people. Some helpful tips: bring toilet paper, stay hydrated, and just enjoy!
Here are some helpful words/phrases (Spanish):
- Hello — Hola
- Please – Por favor
- Thank you — Gracias
- How much? — ¿Cuánto cuesta?
- Where is the bathroom? — ¿Dónde está el baño?