By Rachael Funk
A language barrier can be an adventure. Some travelers like to brush up on the local language when visiting a new country while others enjoy the challenge of learning as they go. In 2012, a national census estimated Bolivians speak about 64 different languages. Bolivian Spanish is one of the main languages used, while other common tongues include Aymara, Quechua, Chiquitano, and Tupi Guaraní.
Though you could if you wanted to, learning several new languages before your trip is going to be time consuming. Instead, why not familiarize yourself with some of the locations you’ll be seeing? Here are a few popular destinations in Bolivia that are are as fun to say as they are to visit.
The largest lake on the continent, Lake Titicaca provides a natural border between Peru and Bolivia. Incan mythology claims Lake Titicaca is where civilization began. The lore says the god Viracocha emerged from the lake to create the earth, then moved on to create the first humans. An archaeological expedition in 2000 discovered ancient temple ruins in the lake. Many visitors feel a spiritual connection at this sacred site. The peaceful Bolivian town of Copacabana sits on the shore of the lake and is an excellent place to stop for a swim!
This Pre-Incan archaeological site in Western Bolivia holds the remnants of an empire that reached its height between 500 and 900 AD. The mystery of the ancient site captivates history and architecture buffs alike. The advanced design and construction of the ruins is an enigma. Some believe the architecture of Tiwanaku could not exist without extraterrestrial help.
Known as the “city of eternal spring,” Cochabamba’s agreeable climate is one of many reasons to visit. The city boasts the world's largest Jesus statue, which stands 112.2 feet high. In the heart of town, travelers are often shocked by how affordable shopping and exploring is. The burgeoning street food movement has made Cochamaba the gastronomic capital of Bolivia.
Locals call Yungas Road “El Camino de la Muerte,” literally meaning “road of death.” Other cheery names for it are “Road of Fate” and the brilliantly straightforward “Death Road.” As you can imagine, this is not a destination for the faint of heart or the short of attention. If you insist on tempting fate, biking tours are available - but proceed with extreme caution. Many improvements have helped make the road safer, but it still claims a yearly death toll.
Ecotourism junkies will love this relaxing town. An ideal starting point for exploring the pampas or Madidi National Park, there is plenty to enjoy nearby, too. If you're not busy on a jungle tour, you will find many choices for food, shopping, and nightlife here. Take a boat upstream to cool off in El Chorro's waterfall or zipline through the treetops in Villa Alcira. Try to travel between April and October to avoid the rainy season!
Salar de Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni is the world's largest salt flat. In the dry season, a patchwork of hardened salt extends as far as the eye can see. The flat holds an estimated 11 billion tons of salt and contains other elements such as lithium and magnesium. During the rainy season, a thin sheet of water collects and transforms the area. When wet, the ground becomes the world's largest natural mirror. This phenomenon has earned the flats the nickname "heaven on earth."