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Food Tour: Showcasing Cuisine in Bolivia

  
  
  
  
  
  

 

Authentic Bolivian cuisine remains true to its origin with typical diets still consisting of locally grown ingredients with some Spanish influence. Today, restaurants are creating modern Bolivian cuisine that incorporates traditional ingredients with a culinary twist. Quinoa ice cream, gourmet llama, cactus and alligator are some of my favorite ingredients now included on menus around La Paz.

To highlight Bolivian cuisine, Turisbus, our tour operator portion of our company, is in the process of creating a food tour. The tour will feature Bolivian cuisine and ingredients but with a modern fusion. Classic Bolivian cocktails and wines will also be showcased.

Traditional ingredients:

  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Corn
  • Onion
  • Peppers

Traditional items:

  • Sopa de mani: peanut based broth with chicken and potatoes
  • Chairo: soup consisting primarily of potato, onion, corn, beef and other vegetables
  • Fricase: soup made of pork, potatoes and spicy broth
  • Pique Macho: filling meal of beef, sausage, potatoes, onion, egg and peppers topped with a spicy sauce
  • Charque: dried, salted meat (usually llama or beef) similar to jerky
  • Saltenas: a sweet pastry usually filled with meat, potatoes and a spicy sauce generally enjoyed in the morning
  • Chufly: traditional cocktail made from singani (local brandy made from grapes), ginger ale and lime
  • Suspiro: baked meringue dessert

Creation of a new tour is always exciting since it involves exploring new locations and in this case, trying a variety of mouth-watering meals, desserts, wines and drinks from the best restaurants in La Paz. For the research, I visited over 30 of the best restaurants in town based on TripAdvisor reviews and word of mouth recommendations from locals and travelers. There were a handful of restaurants that were reoccurring favorites. These favorite locations will be featured on the food tour.

Best Bolivian foodLlama with cactus, honey and yogurt at Gustu (left) & Trout with sautéed vegetables and potatoes at Tambo Colonial (right)

One stop on the tour will be at Gustu. This restaurant has been featured in notable food magazines and blogs around the world including, Food & Wine and AFAR. Gustu is the newest project from Noma’s co-founder, Claus Meyer. Noma is a three-time winner of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and is currently ranked #1. The restaurant also has an apprenticeship program that trains local youths about cuisine and entrepreneurship.

Read Food & Wine Magazines featured article “Is Gustu the World’s Best New Restaurant?”

Their menu currently features 5-course, 7-course or 15-course tasting menus as well as a la carte food and drink items. All ingredients and drinks are Bolivian. They feature traditional menu items such as charque (jerky), anticucho (beef heart) and salteñas (meat filled pastries). Fusion menu items include llama with cactus and honey, soft poached rabbit with citric cream and lemon grass or decadent red berries with raw milk ice cream.

Desserts and cuisine in Bolivia

Baked desserts from the markets (left) & Red berries with raw milk ice cream at Gustu (right)

Another stop on the food tour will feature French cuisine. This restaurant, Chez Moustache, is currently ranked #1 on TripAdvisor for restaurants in La Paz. The owner is from France and acts as the chef and manager and bartender at this charming restaurant.

The food at Chez Moustache incorporates Bolivian wines and ingredients into French style cuisine. Menu items feature local trout, duck and even alligator. Traditional mouth-watering crème brûlée and chocolate mousse are also available. Fresh produce is purchased daily from the local markets.

Join us on our food tour, which will be available later this year, to taste traditional food, inspired fusion dishes, delectable deserts, local wines and exceptional cocktails. Our tour will give you a chance to try some of the best Bolivian cuisine and drinks in La Paz.

We would love to hear your thoughts about the food tour. What dishes sound appealing? What is one menu item you desire to taste while in Bolivia? Feel free to leave comments on our blog! 

Find out more information about our tours and services:

Learn More

 

 

 

Salar de Uyuni

  
  
  
  
  
  

One of the most amazing landscapes in the world, the Salar de Uyuni is a vast salt flat on the altiplano of southwest Bolivia. The Salar, or salt flat of Uyuni stretches more than 10,000 square kilometers, making it the largest salt flat in the world and one of the most popular attractions in Bolivia.

Salar de Uyuni Highlights from Grupo Rosario

OUR FAVORITE THINGS TO DO IN SALAR DE UYUNI:

  • Scramble up Isla de Pescado, Fish Island for panoramic views of the salar
  • Explore the Siloli and Dali Deserts, remote landscapes dotted with volcanoes
  • Spend the night in a salt hotel, constructed 100% of salt bricks
  • Climb aboard the rusting hulks of old locomotives at the Train Cemetery
  • Marvel at the multicolored lagoons around the salar, include Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde
1 Day Tour
2D/1N Tour
3D/2N Tour 
4D/3N Tour (San Pedro de Atacama - Salar de Uyuni - La Paz) 
4D/3N Tour (Puno - Salar de Uyuni - La Paz) 

Bolivia Tourism: Salar de Uyuni Day 2

  
  
  
  
  
  

Day 2 of the Salar de Uyuni tour began at 8:30 after a restful sleep at the salt hotel. (Read about Salar de Uyuni day 1 adventures here)

We departed from the hotel and drove through the Salar de Chiguana, a small nearby salt flat, and then went to the semi-active and smoking Ollague Volcano which is located just inside the Chilean border. 

Bolivia Salar de Uyuni Tour Ollague VolcanoView of the smoking, semi-active Ollague Volcano

We visited 4 small lagoons (Laguna Canapa, Laguna Hedionda, Laguna Chiarkota, Laguna Honda) and saw 3 different types of flamingos that call the lagoons home. We stopped for lunch at Laguna Canapa. Wildlife views at Laguna Canapa were one of the highlights of the tour (see photos below). After lunch we drove through the colorful mountains of the Siloli Desert. The Siloli desert is simply stunning. Our tour guide brought us directly to the base of the mountains whereas most of the other tours viewed the mountains from a viewpoint far off in the distance. Our group stood in silence at the base of the mountains, taking in the natural beauty of our surroundings. We also saw famous the stone tree (Arbol de Piedra). 

Salar de Uyuni Tour Day 2 Highlights

One of the highlights of the tour is the Eduardo Avaroa National Park which has a steep entrance fee of 150 Bolivianos (~22 USD) to enter the park. Unfortunately, the wildlife viewing and photo opportunities were limited that day.  

Flamingos at Laguna Colorada at the Salar de Uyuni Bolivia

We spent the night in very basic accommodation near Laguna Colorada. The accommodation consisted of shared dorms that only had electricity for a few hours per night (no heat of any kind). It was very cold at night but the star gazing was spectacular due to the limited light pollution. 

Day 2 Menu:

Breakfast: bread with spreads (caramel, butter, jam) and hot beverages (tea, coffee, cocoa)

Lunch: crumbed chicken, pasta, mixed vegetables, apples and beverages (water and coke)

Dinner: vegetable soup, spaghetti and beverages (water and coke) including a bottle of wine for every group

Day 2 of the Salar de Uyuni trip was my personal favorite because of the stunning scenery and wildlife viewings. Look out for the next post. Highlights include a relaxing soak in natural hot springs and llamas!

 

Book a Salar de Uyuni tour with us!

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Bolivia Tourism: Salar de Uyuni Day 1

  
  
  
  
  
  

 

Short on time but want to visit the beautiful Salar de Uyuni? With only 3 days, it is still possible to see highlights within the stunning Salar de Uyuni! Take the night bus (a variety of companies leave La Paz in the evening) and arrive in Uyuni early the next day. Be warned, the bus from La Paz to Uyuni is extremely bumpy! Not recommended for light sleepers. Short flights are also available.  Read our blog posts for more information:

Flights in Bolivia

Getting to the Salar de Uyuni

Choosing a Salar de Uyuni Tour Operator

We left La Paz at 9:00 pm with Todo Turismo (one of the best bus companies in La Paz). The company was celebrating its 9th anniversary and gave passengers complimentary cupcakes and wine in celebration. It was a great start to the trip. The bus was very modern and had reclining seats with foot rests and a working but also clean toilet. The staff members were also excellent. This company comes highly recommended but take note that seats are often sold out days or weeks in advance depending on the season.

Dinner on board: Small box of chicken, rice and vegetables and water

Added bonus: cupcake and sweet white wine

Breakfast: crackers, strawberry wafers and strawberry yogurt

The bus arrived to Uyuni late at approximately 9:00 am with a scheduled arrival of 7:00 am (late departure due to the company celebration), which worked out fine because most tour operators leave around 10:00 or 10:30 am. The majority of the tour operators in town only offer Spanish speaking guides but it is possible to find an English speaking guide for an extra fee. Many people arrive in town and jump on a tour the same day.  The most reputable tour companies tend to sell out in advance.

After arranging the tours, the company filled the 4x4 vehicles with food, water, sleeping bags and other necessities. By 11:00 the majority of the tour companies had left the town and were en route to the nearby train cemetery. Groups stopped to take photos at the train cemetery then went to the town of Colchani. On the way we passed mounds of salt that were in the process of drying to be turned into packaged salt. In Colchani we saw a brief demonstration of the salt making process. After, went to the Hotel del Sal which is the first hotel made completely of salt. The hotel is no longer operating because of a lack of water and various environmental reasons. The groups stopped for a quick lunch and photos.

Bolivia tourism Salar de Uyuni adventure

Day 1 highlights (Clockwise from top left: Train cemetery, Flags at Hotel del Sal, Group on salt mounds, Isle del Pescado)

After lunch we drove towards the center of the salt flat to take fun photographs playing perspective. It is a good idea to buy toys or props beforehand although there are vendors along the way .The prices are higher than in La Paz. Our group used dinosaurs, llamas and Pringles cans. After capturing scenic Salar de Uyuni photographs our group went to Isle del Pescado (Fish Island) for a short hike and photographs. The first day of the tour ended at the town of Agencha with a stay in a salt hotel.

The accommodation in Agencha was much better than expected with 24-hour electricity, en suite rooms and possible warm showers. Plus, it wasn’t too cold.

Day 1 menu:

Lunch: Beef, quinoa, plate of steamed veggies and beverages (coke or water)

Dinner: Chicken soup followed by chicken, potatoes, portion of mixed vegetables and beverages (coke or water)

Look for our next blog post about Salar de Uyuni Day 2 Tour Highlights.

Book a Salar de Uyuni tour with us!

Book This Tour

 

(NOTE: this tour itinerary was with a different company but Turisbus visits similar destinations. View the Turisbus Salar de Uyuni Itinerary)

Bolivia Tourism and Travel Trends

  
  
  
  
  
  

 

Travel trends show an increase in the number of people seeking off the beaten path adventures and cultural immersion. Travelers are generally taking longer trips and are making an effort to truly experience local culture, food and lifestyle, while sharing their discoveries with fellow nomads.

There has been a fundamental shift in the age of travelers. Two emerging groups of travelers are millennial aged backpackers and retiring baby boomers. With the aging of the baby boomer generation, a large proportion of travelers are at or nearing retirement age. This age group of travelers generally has the financial means and time to take leisurely round the world vacations which they have been dreaming of for years. These vacations generally last weeks to months and involve a level of comfort but also exploration.  

Another trend in tourism is with the millennial age group of travelers. With the recovering global economy, many young adults are opting to take a gap year to travel and work. These travelers are generally referred to as backpackers.

With the increasing popularity of social media, travelers can easily share their experiences with friends, family and complete strangers. Thanks to Instagram, Facebook, numerous blog sites and other internet resources, the beauty and appeal of travel has never been greater. People are eager to see bucket list destinations or explore new destinations. In 2012, more than one billion people traveled internationally.

Luckily, because of its central location in Latin America, more and more tourists are traveling through Bolivia. At this stage Bolivia tourism is still developing and delayed flights, broken down buses and other issues are still common. Bolivia travel can be difficult but infrastructure is improving every day.  

Bolivia is largely untouched by commercial enterprises compared to many other countries in the world. There are no McDonalds in Bolivia and very few chain hotels or restaurants. Bolivia provides authentic cultural experiences for those who dare to explore it. 

Cholita and child in CopacabanaLocal woman and child

More and more travelers are discovering the best Bolivia tourist attractions. Every day an increasing number of people visit the Amazon Rainforest from Bolivia. Madidi National Park in Bolivia is home to a variety of stunning flora and fauna. Bolivia also offers world-class mountain trekking and climbing for a reasonable price. The nearby Andes Mountains are one of the best Bolivia tourist attractions.

Popular Bolivia tourist attractions also include mountain biking. Our most famous bike trip involves harrowing hairpin turns and steep cliffs on the infamous Death Road. Another popular attraction is the Salar de Uyuni which is the world’s largest salt flat. This vast white desert makes the perfect background for stunning photographs. During the wet season the Salar de Uyuni becomes the world’s largest mirror. Lake Titicaca, or the world’s highest navigable lake, is another popular attraction in Bolivia. The sleepy town of Copacabana is a great place to begin your Lake Titicaca adventures. 

Salar de Uyuni Bolivia wet season

Salar de Uyuni during the wet season 

Top Bolivia tourist attractions:

Bolivia tourism is still in its infancy compared to neighboring tourism powerhouse countries. Because of the contrasting landscapes, beauty and culture of this country, we believe that Bolivia is one of the best countries to explore.

With stunning scenery, friendly locals, unique culture, rich history and exotic cuisine, Bolivia is a magical destination. This land is a country for travelers who seek off the beaten path adventures.

 

For tips about Bolivia travel read our blog posts:

Flights in Bolivia

La Paz travel tips

When to visit the Salar de Uyuni 

Getting to the Salar de Uyuni

 

 

 

 

Bolivia Tourism Community Bike Trip

  
  
  
  
  
  

A few weeks ago I was invited on a "Fam Biking Trip" to Palca Valley with one of the best local bike companies in La Paz, Gravity Assisted. Gravity Assisted is one of the safest bike companies in La Paz and is our company of choice for Death Road tours.

Gravity Assisted was celebrating the opening of their new office in the Witches Market area of La Paz. They invited some of the tour companies on a family bike trip to celebrate their new office and introduce a new tour they will be offering.

We met at the new office off of Linares Street. La Paz is not a big city, so most of the people invited on the tour knew each other or a handful of other people. I was the exception, being a short term intern in La Paz. It was wonderful meeting locals and expatriates who were in the tourism business and also love Bolivia.

After a short meeting in the new office we were off to Valle de las Animas. After an hour long bus ride we arrived at the trail head or "The Soul Trail". This ride is marketed as an easy ride on downhill roads through beautiful canyons, countryside and the historic town of Palca.

View of Mt. Illimani from Valle de las Animas Bolivia

View of Mt. Illimani from Valle de las Animas

The trail head was a turnoff on the road leading to Valle de las Animas and had stunning views of Mt. Illimani. The equipment were unloaded and we were fitted with bikes, helmets, gloves and optional knee pads. The guides gave us short briefings about the trail, safety and general mountain biking tips.

Biking with Gravity Assisted in Bolivia

The group and bikes on arrival at Valle de las Animas

After the briefing and a few minutes of practice, we were off. The initial part of the ride was on a wide road with a gradual descent. We passed by small houses, llamas and locals while enjoying views of the nearby canyon. We stopped frequently for photo opportunities and to keep the group together. 

The trail become slightly more difficult later, with steeper grades and sharper turns as well as a few creek and dry river bed crossings. Part of the trail becomes an impassable river during the wet season in Bolivia. 

With such a large group of bikers, ranging in availability, the ride took longer than expected and we didn't make it down to the mines as planned. Regardess, the ride was great and the views were stunning.

Bikers in Palca Canyon La Paz Bolivia

Riders in Palca Canyon

After finishing our ride we went to the beautiful Alkamiri Boutique Eco-Resort and Spa for a barbeque lunch. Our lunch was held in their lovely fomal dining room. The hotel is set away from the road and has breathtaking views of the nearby canyons and mountains. 

After lunch we went back to La Paz and caught the end of the World Cup game.

"The Soul Trail" ride is a great half day tour in La Paz and wonderful practice from the famous Death Road. The tour provides stunning views of Illimani and is a great day trip for those wishing to escape the city. This bike ride is suitable for less experienced riders. However, a few of the participants did have minor falls on this trip. Take caution and wear necessary gear to avoid injury. 

I was fortunate to participate in this family bike trip and have the opportunity to meet some of the best tourism operators in the country while enjoying a lovely afternoon in Valle de las Animas and Palca Canyon. It was also great practice for the Death Road. I highly recommend taking a tour of this beautiful area just outside of La Paz. The landscapes of Valle de la Luna, Palca Canyon, Valle de las Animas and Muela del Diablo are stunning. 

 

Need a Death Road tour? Book a tour with Grupo Rosario!

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Travel Tips: Budget Travel in Bolivia

  
  
  
  
  
  

 

La Paz is a lively city and great budget travel destination to explore for a few days. Souvenirs are some of the cheapest in Latin America. People often spend days browsing the markets of Calle Sagarnaga for souvenirs, trekking gear and other random finds such as unique instruments or custom made leather goods. Food can be extremely cheap. Clothing is reasonably priced.

Very cheap but good quality leather goods such as custom made jackets are located throughout the city. A variety of leather purses and shoes are also plentiful. In general, souvenirs and goods on Sagarnaga are the most expensive. To avoid tourist prices, head further up the hill past Illampu. There are clothing stores and stalls along Tumusla between Plaza Eguino and Garita de Lima. Fresh produce, personal beauty items, and electronics galore can be found along Max Paredes and the surrounding streets.

The markets of El Alto have anything and everything for sale. Here, it is possible to find recycled clothing or parts to build an entire car or even a house. I have seen everything from used socks to new cars being sold in the markets of El Alto which takes over a large part of city every Thursday and Saturday. This market, called “16 de Julio,” is worth exploring if you are in the area. Make sure and watch your belongings due to pick pockets. Do not wear flashy clothing or bring expensive electronics.

 El Alto market shopping

 El Alto market vendors selling chicken, fruit, toys and movies

For cheap food, eat where the locals eat. Filling 3-course lunches can be found in the Mercado Lanza or other small restaurants for about 15 Bolivianos or US $2. These restaurants are probably best avoided for anyone with a sensitive stomach but travelers often frequent these restaurants without problems. 

Market prices around La Paz:

2 Bolivianos (US $0.30)

  • Bus ticket - on the La Paz public bus or mini buses
  • 4 bananas
  • Snacks - peanuts, beans or small chocolates from street stands
  • Disposable tissues
  • Glass of juice - juices being sold from a glasses in street stands
  • Coke or soda - in glass bottles from markets or street stands

4 Bolivianos (US $0.60)

  • Tucumana - a deep fried Bolivian version of an empanada 
  • Saltena - sweet and juicy meat and potato filled snack
  • Cake / pastry - desserts from small stands
  • Bottled water - 600 ml (20 oz) 
  • Avocado sandwich - found in cafeteria stalls inside the Mercado Lanza

7-10 Bolivianos (US $1 - 1.50)

  • Bag of apples - roughly a dozen small apples
  • Non-alcoholic drink - in central tourist restaurants
  • 10 pack of pain medicine - tylenol, ibuprofin, paracetamol or similar 
  • 10 pack of throat drops 
  • Phone credit - local credit for texts, internet 
  • Burger and fries - from street stands that pop-up at night
  • Fruit smoothie - from Mercado Lanza or street stands
  • Gloves - basic pair of gloves
  • Leg warmers - knit pair from touristy shops 
  • Taxi - price for a ride within the city center 

25 Bolivianos (US $3.50)

  • 2 or 3 course lunch - including soup, main and sometimes dessert (many restaurants offer this for 15 or 20 Bolivianos)
  • Shampoo or conditioner - fairly expensive but most brands are imported from the US or Europe
  • Deodorant
  • Women's haircut - nothing fancy but a decent trim with layers
  • Wine - decent Bolivian wine from a small shop / stand
  • Taxi - price for a ride to Zona Sur or the south end of town which takes approximately 20-30 minutes depending on traffic
  • Beer or wine - from most restaurants or clubs (imported drinks and spirts with mixers tend to be more)
  • Dessert - from a midrange or upscale restaurant in town
  • Pillow - souvenir pillow covers from the markets
  • Hat - souvenir knit hats
  • Scarf - souvenir small knit scarf

70 - 100 Bolivianos (US $10-15)

  • Dinner w/ beverage - average price at most midrange and nice tourist restaurants in the city
  • Day tour to Chacaltaya and Valle de la Luna (basic budget tour)
  • Private accomodation - in a hostel
  • Jacket - Northface or similar knockoff light jacket or fleece
  • "Alpaca" sweater - most likely not made from alpaca but decent sweaters that make nice gifts regardless
  • Shoes - basic pair of tennis shoes
  • Jeans - decent pair (leggings and t-shirts will be less)
  • Purse - a small but nice leather purse
  

400-500 Bolivianos (US $60-70)

  • Death Road tour - price from mid-range tour operators
  • 1 night in a hotel - price for a mid-range hotel in La Paz
  • Leather jacket - quality and price varies but many shops offer custom leather jackets in this price range 
  • Leather purse / backpack 

1000 Bolivianos (US $150)

  • 2 or 3 day mountain climbing tour - Huayna Potosi or other climb including transportation, food, guide and most gear
  • 20 hours of private Spanish lessons - price for a popular language school in town but group and private tutors can cost much less

La Paz is overflowing with shops, markets, restaurants, street stalls and tour agencies. Shopping in La Paz can seem a bit overwhelming at first but we hope this guide will help! 

Please feel free to ask us any questions about prices, attractions, accomodation or cuisine in La Paz. We're here to help. 

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Extreme Mountain Climbing in Bolivia

  
  
  
  
  
  

Huayna Potosi is one of the most popular mountain climbs in Bolivia and is often called the world's easiest 6000 meter climb (19,685 feet). That being said, no 6000 meter climb is easy. Huayna Potosi is an easier 6000 meter climb than most mountains because it is located just under 2 hours from La Paz, offers decent accommodation and does not require a lot of technical climbing. Plus, the actual climb from high camp is only about 1100 meters (3,608 feet) and takes about 5-6 hours. 

Huayna Potosi in Bolivia

View of Huayna Potosi 

Last Friday I started a 3 day mountaineering tour with Altitud6000. I chose this company because of their reviews on TripAdvisor and also because of pricing, availability and all around helpfulness. Many tour companies in La Paz offer 2 or 3 day tours but I highly recommend the 3 day tours for acclimatization. I met many climbers along the way that did not reach the summit, even on 3 day tours. 

The 3 day tour to Huayna Potosi with Altitud6000 is currently 1400 Bolivianos ($202 US). This price is 30-40% higher than some of the other tour operators in town but I believe it was worth it. This company has great guides, good food and they provided ALL of the necessary equipment. 

On the morning of Friday, July 18, I arrived to their office at 8:30 am. I met some of the guides and other climbers and then was off on my 3 day adventure! They took us to their off-site storage location just a few blocks away. Here they gave us our equipment. We were fitted with everything that we needed for our climb. I was given 2 pairs of gloves (inner and outer), thermal fleece pants, waterproof pants, a shell jacket, headlamp, boots, crampons, gaitors and even wool socks to wear with the boots. 

After trying all of our gear we were driven up to base camp on Huayna Potosi. Base camp is exactly that, a base camp. No luxuries but a comfortable stay with a dining area and cabin full of bunks. We were given lunch and then set off to the nearby glacier to practice walking with crampons, using an ice axe and try ice climbing. There were 12 people in my group and this was everyone's first time attempting to climb a 6000 meter mountain. This was my first time even wearing a harness or crampons. 

Group of climbers on Huayna Potosi in Bolivia

My amazing group hiking up to Rock Camp

On the second day we woke up early and hiked to the upper camp. Once at the upper camp, altitude 5130 meters, we were literally stuffed with food for about 6 hours straight. We were given mid-morning tea with cookies, crackers and bread followed by a massive lunch of burgers and fries. They gave us mid-afternoon tea with more snacks followed by chicken soup and a plate of trout and potatoes. Throughout the day we were advised to drink coca tea to help with the altitude. All of this before 6 pm. After 6 pm it was lights out and time for bed. With the altitude and unusual sleep schedule, most people in the camp did not sleep well. 

On Sunday we woke up at 12:30 am! We had just enough time to carb load with bread and cake before getting ready. By 1:30 am we set off into the darkness with our trekking gear, water, snacks and cameras. We assembled at the base of the climb and put on our crampons and gaiters in the dark. The climbers were assigned to a guide, 2 per guide, and tethered to the guide for the duration of the climb. 

A short time into our hike we could see the lights of El Alto between nearby peaks. Between the sparkly fresh snow, city lights and moonlight, the views were absolutely stunning. Our tour guides kept a slow and steady pace and stopped us approximately every 45 minutes to give us hot tea and chocolate. 

We passed over crevasses and next to massive glaciers which were hard to see in the dark. We continued to climb through the night. No one in our group had any major issues with the altitude or other issues during the climb. 

The ascent took about 6 hours. Our entire group of 12 made it to the summit of 6,088 meters (19,974 feet)! Unfortunately we didn't quite make it to the summit for sunrise but the views were stunning regardless. We only spent a few minutes at the top to take pictures, admire the view and congratulate each other before heading back down. 

View from the top of Huayna Potosi in Bolivia

View from the top of Huayna Potosi 

We used all of our energy and adrenaline for the ascent but the descent was the most difficult part of the climb. At this point the sun was shining and we could see the steepness of the ridges and the depth of the crevasses we had crossed in the dark of night.

This was by far one of the best experiences of my life. I highly recommend a trip to Huayna Potosi or another 6000 meter peak for active travelers passing through the beautiful Andes Mountain range area. Altitud6000 was also a wonderful company to use. I found them highly professional but also a lot of fun. This was one of those experiences that I will never forget.

 

Please don't hesitate to contact us about adventures in Bolivia. 

We would love to help you book your perfect trip!

 

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10 Strange Foods to Try While Traveling

  
  
  
  
  
  

 

1. Haggis - Scotland

This dish is the national dish of Scotland. Haggis is a large sausage filled with various sheep organs including lungs, heart and liver. The filling is mixed with a variety of spices, onion, oats and then stuffed into sheep stomach for casing. The sausage is then simmered for a few hours to cook thoroughly.  Supposedly it tastes like a nicely seasoned sausage.

Haggis the national dish of Scotland

Photo by Kim Traynor

 

2. Hakarl - Iceland

This dish is made from cured decomposed shark. Hakarl is a delicacy in Iceland which many locals enjoy. The process involves burying the meat underground for three months then letting it air dry for 5 months. The smell is very similar to the taste. Rotten fish sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?

3. Rocky mountain oysters - USA

Rocky mountain oysters are a contradiction. They are not seafood at all. Rocky mountain oysters are actually bull testicles. The testicles of male cows are often removed to keep the bulls from being too aggressive. The testicles are commonly breaded with flour and spices and then served fried. They are considered a delicacy and some people believe they are an aphrodisiac.  

4. Black ivory coffee - Thailand

This coffee is made from coffee beans that have been ingested by elephants. These beans are then plucked from the droppings. After being picked they are sun dried and roasted.  This coffee is supposed to have a very smooth but earthy flavor. This coffee is also one of the most expensive types of coffee in the world. The beans are marketed as being “naturally refined” Thai Arabica beans.

5. Fried spiders - Cambodia

Afraid of spiders? Maybe eating a spider will change your opinion. Fried spiders are considered a delicacy in Cambodia. These critters are crispy on the outside after they have been fried but remain gooey on the inside. They are also seasoned for nice flavor.

 Fried spiders Cambodia

Photo by: www.viajar24h.com

6. Sannakji - Korea

This dish consists of baby octopus drizzled in oil. The catch though is that the freshly caught octopus tentacles are still squirming. Consumers need to thoroughly chew their food to avoid choking. It is possible for the tentacles to suction to mouths or throats.

7. Caldo de cardan - Bolivia

This soup, common in Bolivia, is known as an aphrodisiac. The main ingredient in this soup is bull penis. The bull parts must be cooked for approximately 12 hour for best results. During cooking the broth becomes infused with flavor. The soup is a good remedy for back and joint pain.  It is also believed to cure hangovers and combat fatigue.

8. Century eggs - China

Century eggs are so aptly named because they have been preserved for a century! Okay, not really. Generally, century eggs have been preserved for a few weeks to a few months. This delicacy is usually made by soaking chicken or duck eggs in a saline solution. The egg yolks become a dark yellow color with the consistency of cream cheese. The egg whites turn a black color and have a jelly like texture. They have a strong odor but generally taste like hard boiled eggs.

Century eggs from China

Photo by: Kowloonese

 

9. Escamoles - Mexico 

Escamoles are ant larvae that live in the roots of certain cactuses. These ants are harvested and often eaten in tacos. They are considered a delicacy in Mexico and referred to as “insect caviar”. They are said to have a buttery and nutty taste.

10. Casu Marzu - Italy

This cheese is found in the Sardinia region of Italy. It is not your average moldy cheese. This cheese is made from sheep’s milk but the interesting part is that the cheese is completely rotten. The cheese is left open to allow flies to lay eggs in the cheese. The larvae feed on the cheese which accelerates the decomposition process.

This food is actually illegal in Italy because it can cause health issues. Sometimes the larvae do not die after being ingested and can cause intestinal problems. Regardless, the cheese is still enjoyed, especially during special occasion events. 

Read our blog posts about food in Bolivia for more information:

Bolivian Food

Travel Tips: Advice for Your Trip to Bolivia

  
  
  
  
  
  

 

So you've decided to visit Bolivia! Now what? Here are some travel tips, preparation advice and general tips to ensure you enjoy your trip to La Paz. 

Preparation

It is essential to research your destination thoroughly before your vacation. Read our blog post about vacation planning for more vacation research and preparation tips. 

It is important to know the local currency and conversion rates. If possible bring a small amount of local currency from your home bank before your vacation begins so you have some local currency. Generally speaking, ATM rates at bus stations and airports give the worst transaction rates. We recommend avoiding exchanging money on arrival if possible. 

Check your home country's travel alerts or register for alerts before going abroad. Many countries have travel alert notification programs through the embassy or some government department. 

Be sure to check the voltage and adapter requirements before you travel. I brought a travel hairdryer that was not dual voltage which was a complete waste of space in my luggage. Many of the outlets in South America are general usage and fit appliances from Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia but I still recommend bringing a universal adapter just in case. 

It is also beneficial to plan your daytrips or tours in advance. Many top tourists attractions in South America, such as Machu Picchu, can sell out weeks or months in advance during the busy season.

Also remember to research events. There are hundreds of festivals throughout Bolivia and South America that are unforgettable experiences. It would be a shame to miss La Paz's biggest festival, the Gran Poder, if you happen to be in the region. 

Stunning costumes from the Gran Poder in La Paz Bolivia

Dancers in La Paz's Gran Poder Festival

Flights

Arrive at the airport early to avoid last minute stress. There is nothing worse than running to catch an international flight and in turn worrying about missing two, three or four connecting flights.

Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to take on and off for security and during the flight.

Although carry on bags generally save you money, they are also stressful to deal with on long journeys. American Airlines international flights (such as Miami to La Paz) offer 2 free checked bags per passenger. You should be able to get away with just using a small carry-on with essentials. Bring a change of clothes just in case the airlines loses your luggage which is all too common.

Bring or wear a sweater that is easy to remove since airplane cabin temperature is usually cold but can be hot if you are in direct sunlight. Also bring socks to keep your feet warm during the flight.

Visa

Bolivia does not require a visa for EU passport holders, Canadians, Australians, Japanese or citizens visiting from other South American countries. 

Americans visiting Bolivia should print and fill-out a visa form to have upon arrival in Bolivia. A completed visa form, passport size photo and $135 cash are required. I was able to skip the line because I had all of my visa documents ready. Bring exact change and crisp bills to ensure your visa is processed without hassle.

More information about visas for Bolivia can be found on our blog here.

Taxis

It is fairly easy to find and take a taxi to the city from the airport of El Alto but I recommend arranging pickup from your hotel or hostel as most international flights into La Paz arrive very early in the morning. Most hostels and hotels, especially in La Paz, offer this service at a slightly higher rate than a standard taxi.

Hotels

Request a quiet room if you are a light sleeper. Hotels generally have a certain area or floor of the building is quiet and away from street traffic or in-house bars or restaurants. The streets of La Paz are very busy from approximately 9 am to 9 pm.

La Paz Bolivia The beautiful city of La Paz with a view of Mt. Illimani 

La Paz

Bring acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help with headache pain from the altitude. Mild altitude issues are common in La Paz because people are generally not acclimatized. Also drink local coca tea which helps to alleviates symptoms of altitude sickness. 

Request extra blankets if necessary as La Paz does become very cold at night with temperatures approaching freezing year round even in the summer (northern hemisphere winter).

Bring or buy sunglasses as the strong sun can hurt your eyes and cause more headaches.

Drink a lot of water! Due to the altitude and sun it is very easy to become dehydrated. We recommend drinking bottled water throughout your trip. 

Other Tips

Taxi fare should be negotiated beforehand as taxi drivers do not use meters.

Last but not least, don’t forget to download our handy travel apps for smartphones or tablets. These travel apps will help you organize your documents and navigate the city. 

Most of all, don't forget to bring your camera and sense of adventure to explore this crazy, fascinating and beautiful country! 

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