Landlocked and far less visited than many of its neighbours, Bolivia is the dark horse of Latin America – warm, welcoming and spectacularly beautiful. More than 60 per cent of the population
consider themselves to be of indigenous descent, following the same customs and dressing the same way as they have done for centuries, with maybe just a sprinkling of Spanish colonialism.
Topping the list of natural attractions are the world’s largest salt flats, the Salar de Uyuni, where giant pentagons of crystalline salt stretch endlessly to the horizon. Spectacular at any time of year, they’re especially surreal when seasonal rains coat the flats like a mirror, causing you to question what’s up and what’s down. And if that weren’t enough there are giant cacti, strutting pink flamingos and mineral lakes that dazzle in hues of blue, green and red.
To the north of the country, and straddling the border with neighbouring Peru, is Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake, which lies surrounded by the snow-laden peaks of the Andes.
Not be outdone by nature, Bolivia’s cities are fascinating too. The silver mines of Potosi are said to have produced enough of the precious metal to build a solid silver bridge from there to Madrid. And in spellbinding Sucre, whitewashed streets are lined with pretty churches and balconies festooned with colourful wild flowers.