Bolivia in central South America is one country that knows how to party. Spanning a variety of landscapes from the Andes Mountains, to the Atacama Desert and Amazon rainforest, there are also countless crazy festivals and Entradas (parades) held around the country throughout the year.
The largest festival is Carnaval, dating back 200 years, celebrated across the country during four days of parades, marching bands, colourful costumes, and street parties. Ãƒâ€˜atita held during early November is one of the more unusual ones and is similar to Mexico's Day of the Dead. It's weird, wonderful, and intriguing. Many Aymara people in the Andean highlands believe decorating the skulls of the dead (often dug up for the festival) will protect them and heal ailments. La Paz is one of the best cities to experience this festival.
The largest city is Santa Cruz de la Sierra: the capital is Sucre, while the administrative capital La Paz sits at 3,500m on the Andes Altiplano plateau. The snow-capped Mount Illimani is in the background while nearby is Lake Titicaca, the continent's largest lake which borders with Peru. Explore Isla del Sol with traditional villages and Incan ruins and the pre-Incan site of Tiwanaku with its unique monoliths and underground temples.
Bolivia has no shortage of excellent coffee, cafes, restaurants, bars, live music, and nightlife. It's a backpackers haven, and many have chosen to stay for years. There's no shortage of upscale accommodation from the 5-star to colonial boutique hotels with local character.
Further afield, there are the Salar de Uyuni salt flats, the Yungas area perfect for hikers, and the volcano of Sajama National Park.Â Nature lovers will want to add Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, one of Bolivia's most remote national parks to their list if visiting in December. Here the highest population of endangered flamingos, such as the James's, Chilean, and Andean species, feed on the reserve's algae-rich waters. For the best photo of these elegant, graceful and beautiful birds, go to the Laguna Colorada or 'Red Lagoon'.
It's a culturally rich country with so much to see and experience; take a month or maybe more here and soak it up.
Bolivia is a country whose climate changes with its varied landscapes. With altitude, it gets colder, especially in the Andes, and the high desert of Altiplano, which often freezes at night while the days can be scorching hot, to the wet and humid Amazon rainforest.
There are two seasons: the Wet and the Dry. The Dry, their winter, generally begins in May and ends in late November and is the best time for hiking and outdoor activities. In the higher regions are freezing, so pack warm gear as many hotels don't have heating, especially budget ones. At Salar de Uyuni - the country's most famous attraction - temperatures can drop to -20 C!
For those wanting to do outdoor activities, the Wet is best to avoid, especially from January to March, when most rain falls. Hence the Dry is peak tourist season, and if you are looking for a good deal, consider the shoulder seasons, which often have bargains on accommodation and tours.