Peru's Presidential Palace is nicknamed the Burnt Palace because of the number of times angry mobs have set fire to it! As recently as 1946 a rioting mob dragged the president out of here and hanged him from a lamppost in front of his palace. Plaza Murillo is actually named after another president who was dragged out and hanged, back in 1810, but he is still revered as a national hero because the people who hanged him were Spaniards. It's obviously not all plain sailing being the president of Bolivia although nowadays the ceremonial guards in front of the palace, in their colourful uniforms, mainly seem to be there for tourists to photograph.
While you are in La Paz there are several agencies who offer this daily trip. make sure to book it few days before if you really want to do it and don't have mch time. In every Hostel ar other accomodation you go you can surely fond somebody who take care for the reservations.
If you know how to ride a byke you shouln't have any problems woth this tour. It's a lot of adrenalina and it really worths to do it!
Great experience.. high adrenaline .. see something you have never seen before.
Mines are all active and you see miners working around you.!
Listen to some great life story, feel the miners happiness and got to know the high sense of humor they show and share with tourists.
Bring some good present to them in order to be more well accepted (remember they are still working and risking their life), usually explosives, coca leaves, water and orange juices are well accepted. For more info check also warning and dangerous!
I'm in Sucre now and a guy in my hostel told me about a new ethical tour company called Condortrekkers..not sure if I am allowed to put their website address on here but it's www.condortrekkers.org. Apparently, they are going to start doing city tours and treks around Sucre in a few weeks time and all the profits go to social projects here. I can't give my opinion on the actual tours or treks cause I have not done it yet...but it looks like an awesome project and anyone that has been to the plaza here in Sucre will know how many children are working on the streets here. They also seem to be appealing to backpackers, not just the expensive end of 'ethical' travel.
Parades and festivals are the perfect picture taking opportunity. In a culture where some may be offended of photographs, here people expect to be photographed. In fact, there were plenty of professional news photographers at the parade we saw - Independence day in Sucre.
Film/memory is burned in a hurry with so many photo ops. So bring extras.
Throughout Sucre poems are posted on walls. So keep an eye out. A couple favorites:
Tus Desdenes (Your disdains)
Tus desdenes me matan,
ten compasion de mi,
mira que el adorarte
no es un delito que cometi.
Adios prenada del alma,
adios prenada, me voy,
porque vivo penando
per tus amores llarando estoy.
Your disdains kill me,
have compassion of me,
sight to adore you
it is not a crime that i committed.
Goodbye anything of the soul
Goodbye anything, I go away,
Because I live suffering
I am crying for your love.
A Sucre (In Sucre)
Cuatro nombres muy gloriosos tiene nuestra capital,
son: La Plata, Charcas, Sucre, Chuquisaca la immortal.
Cuatro nombres laminosos de grandeza y dignidad
Ciudad Blanca, Madre y honra de la bolivianidad.
Te llaman la Culta. Atenas por tu saber y beldad.
Tu rompiste las cadenas y nos diste Libertad.
Four names have our very glorious capital:
La Plata, Charcas, Sucre, Chuquisaca the immortal.
Four name laminated the greatness and dignity:
The white city, Mother and honor of the bolivians.
You call us the Athens culture for our knowledge and beauty.
You break the chains and gave us Liberty.
Why? For many reasons actually.
1) Tupiza Tours is an excellent operator. I can't say enough good things about them. Our cook was extremely friendly, our driver funny, and the jeep reliable. There are so many tours leaving from Uyuni that it is hard to determine quality. Which leads to the next point.
2) So many tours leave from Uyuni that I imagine the sites are quite busy with fellow tourists. But by starting in Tupiza you basically see SW bolivia in the opposite order as Uyuni tours. Which segues nicely to the next, and best advantage.
3) Sunrise on the salar is experienced on the last day, not the first. The scenery builds up to a brilliant finale, rather than starting high and ending on a fourth day on pure driving.
4) Most jeeps leaving from Uyuni we saw were crammed with 6-7 passengers + cook + driver in each land rover. We left Tupiza with 4 of us in a land rover + cook + driver - this seemed to be the norm in each land rover that left Tupiza.
Alternatively, instead of starting in Tupiza and ending in Uyuni, and even better route would be the Uyuni to Chile route. In either case, don't start and end your salar tour in Uyuni.
Seeing Isla del Sol in a daytrip is managable, but not ideal. Neither is staying the night in the southern city, Yumani. Yumani is getting overly touristic with numerous hostels and restaurants which is fine if you're looking for a late night out. But if you're looking for a quiet place to spend the night, soaking in the peaceful atmosphere of Isla del Sol, you should stay at the northern town of Cha'llapampa. There you'll find a village surrounded by beaches where kids play, pigs doze, women wash clothes, and men fish.
Guembe Park is a bit far from the city but well worth the trip! Here you can enjoy horseback riding, swimming, nature walks and the largest Mariposero in the country, great sights! We would have never found this place had it not been for the carnaval. Santa Cruz's Carnaval is dirty and quite chaotic, needless to say we had to get away and this was the great outing.
The best wine in Bolivia comes from the vineards in Tarija. Tarija is a small department with a solid reputation for having the best grapes and wine! So, you already know that I will recommend...a tour of the vineards! if you have time, i recommend that you see more than one. I was very fortunate to have been to two different processing plants. The first one was a modern processing plant, everything done my machine. The second one was an old time vineard, where they stomp their way into great wine! regardless of where you go, i highly suggest you see a combination of the ones i saw. Dont hesitate to buy the wine directly from the processing plants! the couple i was with was very envious of my wine purchases upon the completion of our tour. Some items can only be found at the vineards! take advantage!
If you are in tarija a short time i recommend a Tarija in a day tour! many tour agencies offer them and they are very well worth the money! i paid 25 usd for the entire trip! and we went everywhere! Tarija is so small but they have long festivals! specially during carnaval, though you can see a lot in one day, the festivals beg for more of your time! Salud!
I love La Paz! its so busy, chaotic, loud, tons to buy, tons to see, tons to eat! and if you've had enough of the hussle and bustle, there are plenty of places to get away that are close by in comparison to other departments. No wonder its the one department with the most tourism. La Paz is the only city i know where an old lady with a "kepy" strapped to her back can out walk anyone, uphill! Viva La Paz!
Does this statue look familiar? yeah, Brazil has one too! but the one in Cochabamba is bigger! not to take anything away from Brazil, but Cochabamba is a rapidly growing city that still has not been fully discovered by tourists. The weather here is close to perfect and being so tropical there are many outdoor adventures to fit your style, from taking a stroll through the many plazas to playing with the monkeys, biking and kayaking in El Chapare and Villa Tunari.
Not far from the entrance you will come face to face with El Tio. El Tio is the devil of the mines and though he is not worshiped, he is highly respected. The miners have many beliefs that stem from being one with the earth, and so, as they work and tear into the soil and dig way beneath its surface, they can be faced with many uncertanties, (caveins for the most part) for disturbing the earth. They believe that when this happens, it was because they were not being respectful to the underworld and El Tio. So to protect themselves they pay omage to the Tio each time they go in! this includes sharing their coca leaves, alcohol, party favors, etc.
What a sight! the view from the very top of El Calvario is unlike anything i have seen so far! The hike takes about an hour and a half and what a hike it is. Prepare to be out of breath, no matter how slow you are going, the steep slopes take a toll on you and your knees! You may run across some sheep and a few locals, but i did not see too many tourists. It was actually nice to have the entire place almost to ourselves. When you arrive to the top of El Calvario you will see that the only vendor there is selling candles (for payers), there is no water! plan accordingly. There is no charge for accessing El Calvario and since ther is not much to purchase up top, i recommend that you dont bring money, the hike is a lonely one and though i felt safe with my partner, we ran accross some odd folks. I would say that the best view is enjoyed during the daytime, but i have heard that the night sky is within reach up there! again, i would recommend taking the hike with others if you plan on going up there at night! either way its an unbelievable experience.
If you are planning a trip to Rurrenabaque to do a pampas and jungle tour take note! traveling to this area during rainy season (nov-Feb) is not really recommended (too much rain and you could risk not going, or overstaying). I had a whole trip planned and was dissapointed when we heard we would not be going on the day planned because of the rain. There are 2 ways to get to Rurre, by plane and by bus. The plane ride is 45 mins and the bus ride is 18hrs. If you choose the plane you should know that there are 2 airlines that go there, Amaszonas and T.A.M..
T.A.M. is not heavily advertised by the touring companies because its a big cargo plane operated by the military and it only flies MWF, depending on the weather. It appeared to me though that T.A.M. is able to handle a bit of rain better than Amaszonas, so i dont hesitate to recommend it, its also cheaper.
If you have the time, i highly reccommed you do both tours. If not, i would say that the pampa tour is the best. I was lucky enough to have our tour guide stay with us an extra day to show us the jungle and in comparison the pampas tour gives you a better look and interaction with the wild life. I had a great experience with Bala Tour agency and our stay at Caracole Ecolodge was everything i had hoped for.
More Regions in Bolivia