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World’s Highest Wines; Tarija, Bolivia

Chilean and Argentine wines have been gaining popularity in the United States and European markets for the past decade.

Now – located just north of South America’s two largest wine producers – Bolivia is hoping to stake their claim on the global market.

They just might. Continue

Carnaval in Oruro, Bolivia

Carnaval. The biggest celebration in the Americas… and while it may lack Rio’s hedonistism, the Carnaval de Oruro can certainly hold its own as one of South America’s best places to celebrate.

But first…

What Is Carnaval, Exactly?

Carnaval is a celebration prior to the beginning of Lent. And in case you’re wondering, Lent is the forty day period before Easter (Roman Catholics believe Jesus rose from the dead on Easter).

During Lent, Catholics (over 90% of Bolivia’s population) are expected to make sacrifices in honor of Jesus. The most common sacrifice is to avoid eating red meat. In Latin, the period before Lent was originally called “Carne Levare” which literally means “take away the meat.” Needless to say, people party hard before forty days of sacrifice. And now you can join in on the fun, whether you’re Catholic or not.

Continue

Street Food, Art and Culture; La Paz, Bolivia

Layers. The best cities always have them. Layers which reveal different views and experiences – if you’re willing to let them, anyways – over a period of days, weeks, years.

La Paz is such a city. And unlike most large cities around the world, its high elevation (an ear-popping 11,975 feet/3650 m) quite literally forces you stop and soak up what La Paz has to offer.

This is a very, very good thing. Continue

Trekking the Cordillera Region; Chulumani, Bolivia

At first glance, you’d swear you were in the Himalaya. Known as the “Tibet of the Andes” Bolivia’s Cordillera Apolobamba is a startling transition from the Amazon jungle in the east to the Andes mountains to the west.

This altiplano (“high plateau”) includes valley floors over 13,000 ft (3,962m) above sea level. Snow-capped mountains and glaciers loom above the valley as a sign of good things to come. Continue

Island Hopping; Titicaca Lake, Peru & Bolivia

Lake Titicaca. Sitting 3,811 m (12,500 ft) above sea level, it’s the largest high altitude lake in the world, and spreads over 8400 sq km across Peru and Bolivia’s section of the Andes mountains.

These snowcapped mountains overlook Titicaca’s pristine waters, which surround several small islands where village life has remained unchanged for centuries.

Most travelers arrive in Juliaca. It’s not a pleasant introduction. Home to the only commercial airport around, it’s a necessary, albeit unpleasant place to travel through. Take our advice: hightail it to the much more attractive and laidback Puno.

Puno – a small port town located on the northeastern coast of Lake Titicaca – is the first stop before the islands of Lake Titicaca. Spend a day or two here admiring the few colonial buildings, old fishing boats and setting up a tour of the islands beyond.

WARNING: Tours vary widely. Be sure to ask other travelers for reviews.Continue