Bolivia is a culturally rich and naturally diverse country in the centre of South America. Its natural ruggedness and unspoilt landscape, outside of the main cities, makes it one of the most spectacular countries to explore and photograph, and its warm and welcoming indigenous people, inside and out of the main cities, make it one of the most captivating. You'll find the country steeped in tradition and culture, with over 60% of its residents of indigenous heritage - as a result you'll see most locals dressed in brightly coloured traditional dress. Bolivia is well-known for its many celebrations, with parades taking place almost every month. Spending your gap year in Bolivia won't disappoint, with natural spectacles such as the Andes, Lake Titicaca, the salt flats of Uyuni, and tributaries of the Amazon River, there is plenty to keep even the most intrepid traveller interested. And if you're thinking of using Bolivia as your base from which to plot further travels, you couldn't be in a better place, with Peru to the northwest, Brazil to the northeast, Paraguay and Argentina to the south, and Chile to the southwest.
Bolivia has a whole range of extreme activities to keep your inner adventurer satisfied. From paragliding in La Paz and Cochabamba, rock climbing or mountain trekking in the Andes, travelling the most dangerous road in the world in Yungas, white water rafting in el Chapare, or skydiving in Santa Cruz, there are a whole host of exciting things to see and do. Of course, if you're not after such extreme activities there are plenty of areas in Bolivia where you can hire mountain bikes, go horse riding, join a trek, or take a boat tour on Lake Titicaca. There are so many points of interest, it's worth hiring local tour guides or checking out local travel agents to find out about everything on offer.
Not as developed or set up for tourism as some of its neighbouring countries, you'll find Bolivia is an excellent country to travel around on a budget. Most cities and towns have an abundance of low-cost backpacker accommodation and guesthouses to choose from, with some of the more remote areas even offering homestay accommodation with local families - if you're interested in the latter option, you should book through a reputable tour company. Food and drink are also available at a very reasonable rate, especially if you choose to eat the local cuisine - which is delicious, so why wouldn't you?! Activities and excursions are numerous and varied - from simple guided town walks to abseiling and skydiving, and are often more affordable than you'd expect, although it's always worth getting recommendations from the local travel and tourism office as they'll be able to point you to the right companies to book with, which will always be safer and often cheaper than going to touts on the street.
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