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Bolivia

Bolivia facts at a glance Official Name: Republic of Bolivia Country Population: 10,700,000 Capital City: Sucre (1.6 million) Largest Cities: Santa Cruz, La Paz, Cochabamba, El Alto, Sucre Languages: Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymará (official) Latitude/Longitude: 17º S, 65º W Official Currency: Boliviano Major industries: Mining, gas, tin, textiles Time zone: GMT-4 Electricity: 220 volts, 60Hz. Appliance plugs compatible with continental Europe & USA. TV is NTSC, not PAL. Approximate internal flying times: La Paz to Rurrenbaque = 30 mins La Paz to Sucre = 45 mins La Paz to Santa Cruz = 1 hour Sucre to Santa Cruz = 30 mins El Alto International Airport: http://www.sabsa.aero/ Bolivia travel guide About Bolivia With its ice-capped Andean peaks, crystalline lagoons, rugged lowlands, Amazonian rainforest, terraced valleys and windswept altiplano, landlocked Bolivia is a virtual showcase of South America’s most dramatic landscapes. Its iconic sights include Lake Titicaca, spiritual home of the Inca creation myth and highest navigable lake in the world; the Salar de Uyuni, highest and largest salt lake on earth; and La Paz, the world’s highest de facto capital. The panorama of the city’s ramshackle roofs sprawled across the basin beneath the mighty Mt Illampú is surely one of the most awesome views in the Americas. The country’s greatest treasures are the Bolivians themselves. Nearly two thirds of the people are of indigenous origin, preserving the continent’s purest cultural roots, which, for visitors, means a dazzling array of colourful festivals, mysterious rituals, haunting folklore music, magical markets and dazzling costumed dances. While bespoke tourism is emerging, there are also plenty of long bus journeys over precipitous mountain passes, rough-and-tumble jeep trips across empty landscapes and chilly nights at high altitude in budget hostels under llama wool blankets. Bolivia’s cities encapsulate the country’s staggering contrasts. La Paz mixes both traditional and modern culture in a frenzy of collisions. Weave your way through the backstreets where cosmopolitan restaurants and lively bars compete with witch markets and speeding minibuses. By contrast, Santa Cruz has a younger vibe: famous for its spirited Carnival, it’s the booming hub of the tropical eastern lowlands. Colonial Sucre and Potosí are chronicles of Bolivia’s past – whitewashed mansions, gilt-lined churches, monumental plazas, and steep cobbled streets. While Tupiza and Uyuni offer something different altogether: the isolated culture of Altiplano towns. From jungle greenery to vast white salt plains and wildlife-filled wetlands, the sweep of landscapes can be overwhelming: one day you can find yourself walking through a canyon of rock formations, the next volcanic geysers and endless stretches of white salt. It is this smorgasbord of remarkable features which keeps trips to Bolivia varied, alive and unforgettable. Geography of Bolivia On the south-western Altiplano are the Uyuni Salt Flats, the largest in the world. Here, the shimmering white salt pan and deep blue sky combine to create a truly magical spectacle. The stunning Cordillera Real is a mountain range dominated by huge snow peaks, including Illimani and Illampu (6,380m). The Real divides the northern Altiplano from the tropical forests to the east. The Cordillera Real’s eastern slopes are characterized by the deep, sub-tropical Yungas gorges. Further south, the tropical Chapare is the agricultural heart of Bolivia. East of this band of high forests and plantations lies Bolivia’s Oriente, a vast swathe of Amazonian jungle and savanna accounting for 2/3 of the country and featuring some of the last untouched wilderness on earth. In the north-eastern Department of Beni, some 50% of the country’s mammals and birds reside. Below, and in no special order, we outline some of the top places to go and things to do. CLIMATE Bolivia lies within the tropics, between latitudes 10º and 22º south. The climate, as varied as its geography, is affected by latitude and, especially, by altitude. The best time to travel is the winter (dry season) between May and Oct when, typically, weather systems over the Andes are stable, and overall you can expect bright sunny days and cold clear nights. Most of the rain falls from Dec to March. Climate can be divided into these distinct zones: The Andes and the Altiplano The southeast Trade Winds lose most of their moisture by the time they cross the Cordillera Oriental (eastern Andes), while the winds crossing the Cordillera Occidental from the Pacific are very dry anyway due to the presence of the cold Humboldt Current. Consequently, year-round, there is relatively little precipitation on the Altiplano, especially in the dry season – most rainfall is from Dec to March. However, there is periodical, localized rain on high peaks and valleys all year round. The further south and west you go on the Altiplano, the drier are the conditions; around Uyuni, semiarid conditions prevail. Temperature-wise, the Andes and Altiplano experience significant fluctuations over a single day. At 4,000m, the pre-dawn temperature can drop to -15ºC, while noon temperatures at the same location can reach 20ºC. Southerly cold winds mean the southern Altiplano is not only drier, but also noticeably colder and windier thanthe north (pre-dawn temperatures at Uyuni in July regularly drop to -20ºC). On treks in the Cordillera Real in the dry season, expect a range of conditions within a single day: cold/freezingnights at camps above 4,000m (where pre-dawn temperatures sometimes reach -15ºC); warm, spring-like mornings and afternoons; and cold evenings. Conditions are generally dry, but note that mountain weather is fickle and localized, and precepitation is not unusual in the dry season. Expect temperatures to swing between sun and shade, sheltered and exposed ground and with altitude gain and loss. A quick-setting sun means temperatures drop fast. The city of La Paz (3,630m) is relatively sheltered. Average high/low temperatures range from 17ºC/1ºC in June and July (coldest months) to 19ºC/6ºC in Nov and Dec (warmest months). In June and July, it rarely rains more than 1 or 2 days per month, while in January there are on average 15 wet days. The Andean sun’s rays are very strong. The tropical lowlands & yunga Year-round, weather conditions in the Amazon basin are hot and humid, although the lowland rainforests lie far enough south of the equator to provide a ‘cooler’, drier winter season between May and October. During this ‘dry season’, the average daytime high temperature is between 25°C and 31°C and the average nighttime low is between 16°C and 22°C. In the dry season, heavy downpours typically occur every few days. Note that around 80% of annual average rainfall – approx 2,000 mm in Bolivia’s northern lowlands – occurs in the wet season (Nov to April). On rare occasions, between May and September, cold fronts from Argentina - surazos - can sweep into southwest Amazonia and push temperatures down to 9°C. (Surazos usually last between 1 and 3 days). The Yungas shares the same dry/wet months but varies from quite wet to very wet depending on whether it isthe 'dry' or rainy season. Average temperature is 24°C. Travel insurance It is a condition of booking any of our holidays that you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover you for trip cancellation (by you), activities involved and destination. This cover should include repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue. We work with Travel Nomads, who offer insurance solutions to people in more than 140 countries across the world. Should you decide not to purchase this insurance, you must provide us with details of your alternative insurance with or before your final payment. Flights Andean Trails can book all your international and domestic flights for this trip and for UK passengers, we have full ATOL bonding and can book flights with most airlines. International flight prices are variable and usually can only be guaranteed at the time of booking. If you would like to upgrade to business or first class, or even arrive at an earlier date/depart at a later date we can also arrange this for you. International flights will arrive into La Paz, but sometimes stop or connect with Santa Cruz or Sucre. We usually recommend overnighting in your arrival city before travelling onward, in case of delays. Please contact us for flight advice especially if you do want to make a connection on the same day. It is important to purchase a through ticket and not separate tickets for connections, so that you are covered for any delays. Passengers with separate tickets who are delayed run the risk of having to buy an entirely new ticket to continue their journeys. All airline schedules are subject to change and are out of our control. Currency & Money Exchange Bolivia’s monetary unit is the "boliviano" (Bs) – often referred to as peso. Notes are in 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 2 (rare) boliviano denominations. Coins are in 2, 1, 0.50, 0.20 and 0.10 and 0.50 (rare) boliviano denominations. There are 100 centavos to one boliviano. Travellers are advised to carry funds in US dollars, bringing mostly cash, in medium to high denomination bank notes. Note that dollar bills must be unmarked and undamaged, otherwise they may well not be accepted. We also recommend you carry an ATM cash card, as ATM (‘hole-in-the-wall’) machines are available in most Bolivian cities. US dollar travellers cheques can be changed in La Paz (commission usually payable), but are not so easy to change elsewhere. La Paz shops and restaurants often accept the major international credit cards, though their use sometimes incurs a fee. Note that it is difficult to buy US$ with bolivianos at points of exit. Bank hours are generally 09.00-18.00 weekdays, and increasingly Saturday morning from 09.00-13.00. Tipping Tipping is a normal part of life in Latin America. The norm in restaurants is approx 10%. Local staff, e.g. on trekking, biking, jungle and rafting expeditions, often look to group members for recognition of their services. The tip will depend on satisfaction with service provided and length of time spent with staff. It should be remembered, however, that over-generosity is counterproductive. A range of US$5-10 per day for the guide is usual plus further tipping for drivers, assistants cooks etc…Tips are best paid in US$ or small denominations of Bolivianos. Communications International and national calls can be made from public pay phones. Country and city codes are normally shownin phone booths. For international calls, dial: 00 + country code + city code minus ‘0’ + telephone number. For city to city calls, dial: 0 + city code + telephone number. Public phones take coins or cards. These are sold in stands and supermarkets. Make sure card corresponds to the phone company whose phone you want to use. Collect calls not possible from pay phones. The main towns and cities have public Internet offices, and their number is increasing. Average cost per hour = US$ 1.30. Transport There are lots of official taxis in La Paz. Haggle a price before getting in. Taxis normally carry 4 people max. Security Bolivia is generally safe, but crime is not unknown and travellers should take the precautions they would anywhere else, especially: Leave paper valuables in hotel safe (caja fuerte), taking only what you need for the day. Carry a copy of passport (leave original in safe). N.B. When travelling, carry paper valuables in a money belt under clothing, not in a ‘bum-bag’. We suggest you do not exchange money on the street. Use either a casa de cambio (bureau de change) or bank. Care is needed in La Paz and other cities. Only carry a daypack if you’re in a group. We suggest you carry this on your chest. Carry camera in bag, replacing after use. Always take special care around markets, bus terminals and busy streets. Never carry a bag or valuables in these areas, as bag-slashers and pickpockets sometimes operate. Beware of distraction techniques. At night, avoid quiet streets or streets with poor lighting, especially if alone; it’s best to use taxis atnight, wherever you are. NEVER leave your bag(s) unattended, especially in airports, bus terminals and hotel lobbies.

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Lima

Lima Tours, Travel and Adventures Tourism in Peru VISIT LIMA “Discover all the cities living within the city of Lima, where the faces, cultures, festivals and flavors of Peru gather together.” Lima Tour Operator: Caral Tour, Lima Museum, Pachacamac, Gold Museum, Tours in Lima.Back to top Lima is an entertaining, friendly and gourmet city. It was the most prized jewel of the Spanish colonies and for 300 years the wealthiest city in the Americas. Instead of raising palaces for its kings, Lima built grand churches that guard valuable collections of masterpieces and constructed mansions for the aristocracy. Its historic center was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1991, yet it is much more than this illustrious title. Lima is also a city of fascinating museums that exhibit treasures that were uncovered at archeological sites from pre-Hispanic cultures. Then again, there is also the district of Miraflores, lying on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, facing both the open sea and modern life, where avant-garde condominiums rise sparkling into the sky and glittering shopping malls are within walking distance of each other. You can also find such modernity in San Isidro, with its lovely residential neighborhoods, large parks and restaurants and open air cafes filled with lively conversations. The outskirts of Lima also have their fair share of attractions. From Callao, you can take a boat ride to visit sea lions and marine birds that find shelter on the Palomino Islands, and, for the more adventuresome, sail out to the continental shelf and watch whales sporting in the waves. South of the city is Pachacamac, a pre-Hispanic complex that was site of the most important pilgrimage shrine in ancient Peru. And a short distance north sits the remains of Caral, the oldest city in the Americas, built 5,000 years ago. Lima is the main point of entry to Peru and also a chief launching point for trips to the interior of the country. " Lima is a city where food is a religion and whose temples are its inviting seafood, Amazonian and Andean restaurants as well as those that serve a fusion of Peruvian flavors with others from around the world." Peru Tour Operator: Classical Inca Trail, Short Inca Trail, Pachacamac, Machu Picchu tou,rs Lima.Back to top LIMA TOURS LIMA CITY NIGHT: Discover the beauty of Lima, visiting its foremost architectural monuments beautifully illuminated. FOUNTAINS OF LIMA: Be surprised by the largest compound of electronic fountains in the world. DINNER SHOW: Come for an unforgettable evening enjoying a wonderful dinner buffet and a spectacular show. PACHACAMAC: A unique archaeological and mystical experience; the oracle, temples, palaces, Myths and legends. LIMA MUSEUMS: Larco museum and Archeological Museum. LARCO MUSEUM: The finest collection of gold and silver from ancient Peru. GOLD MUSEUM OF PERU: Come and meet the most famous collection of gold in Peru. GASTRONOMIC TOUR: Discover the secrets of peruvian gastronomy. PERUVIAN PASO HORSE EXHIBITION: A national tradition, turned into people´s pride. CARAL TOUR: Discover the oldest civilization in America. Peru Tour Operator: Classical Inca Trail, Short Inca Trail, Pachacamac, Machu Picchu tou,rs Lima.Back to top Routes & length of stay 3 days (minimum recommended length of stay) 1 day Historic downtown.1 day Main museums.1 day Sightseeing in Miraflores and San Isidro.1 day Callao: the Palomino Islands and Fort Real Felipe (Royal Philip).1 day Sacred city of Caral.2 day Lunahuaná and the North Yauyos Cochas Scenic Reserve. Accommodation and tourist services. There are many 3 to 5 star hotels in the city that combine elegance, business and pleasure.You can find tour guides, even for nighttime sightseeing, at places of interest in the city.Guided tours of Lima and archeological sites available, as well as car rent and taxis. Lima Tour Operator: Caral Tour, Lima Museum, Pachacamac, Gold Museum, Tours in Lima.Back to top Recommended for: People interested in Spanish Colonial landmarks, who have access to a large number of churches, homes and other landmarks such as the Muralla de Lima (wall of Lima) and Fort Real Felipe. Archeology buffs, who must visit Caral and Pachacámac. Cultural tourism enthusiasts, who visit the city’s numerous and noteworthy museums. Bird watchers, who cannot miss to visit the Pantanos de Villa and the Palomino islands in Callao. Surfing in the beaches of Lima, gliding, rafting, kayaking and mountain cycling in Lurín. Various / Others Lovers of fine food, who will find a smorgasbord of options, all delicious and different from each other. Handicraft collectors, who need to find their way to the tourist markets called “Indian Markets and shopping malls”. Lima Tour Operator: Caral Tour, Lima Museum, Pachacamac, Gold Museum, Tours in Lima.Back to top What to buy? Crafts from all corners of Peru can be bought at the tourist markets of Miraflores and Pueblo Libre.Fine clothing made of alpaca and vicuña wool can be purchased at exclusive stores.There are plenty of shopping malls in the city, the best ones being Jockey Plaza and Larcomar.The street Avenida La Paz, in Miraflores, is well known for its antique dealers.Jewelry stores offer exquisite gold and silver pieces. Lima Tour Operator: Caral Tour, Lima Museum, Pachacamac, Gold Museum, Tours in Lima.Back to top What to eat? Called the Gastronomic Capital of the Americas, Lima boasts a grand international table that in many cases is a fusion of different tastes, like the Nikkei, which combines Japanese cooking with Peruvian. Such emblematic dishes as lomo saltado (type of stir fried sirloin strips, a blending of Chinese and Peruvian cooking) are an expression of this marriage, too. Like any other coastal city, Lima owes much to the fish and seafood gotten from the ocean. Cebiches, arroz con mariscos (rice with seafood) and conchitas a la chalaca (mussels covered with onions and chili peppers) are dishes of mass consumption and can be found sold from sidewalk vendors to the most refined of restaurants. Pasta also has a strong presence in Lima cuisine, but it is impossible to stop there; the creativity of its chefs allow for daring combinations, like sea bass flambéed in pisco brandy and served with squid and asparagus risotto. Peruvian Creole cooking has a fine showing on the menu, as well, with dishes like ají de gallina (chicke and milk stew), anticuchos (barbecued beef hearts marinated in a spicy chili pepper sauce), mazamorra morada (purple corn pudding) and the ever present cocktail, the pisco sour. And there is more: all the flavors of the nation, from the jungle to the mountains, northern and southern, have found their way into the capital city, joined hands and enriched Lima. Lima is a very humid city since it is located on the coast. As is customary for all coastal cities, visitors should take the necessary health precautions. We recommend that you exchange money at banks or currency exchange agencies.Avoid transactions of this kind on the street. Lima Tour Operator: Caral Tour, Lima Museum, Pachacamac, Gold Museum, Tours in Lima.Back to top IN LIMA PERU: Places to visit and celebration dates • Main Square. It was here at this spot that Francisco Pizarro founded the city of Lima on January 18th, 1535. Around its perimeter sit famous and grand buildings, like the Government Palace, City Hall, Cathedral, Archbishop’s Palace and Club de la Union Building. Centerpiece of the square is a bronze fountain set there in the mid 17th century. • Cathedral of Lima. While originally finished in 1622, it has gone through various remodeling periods and now expresses a whole host of different architectural styles: Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neo-classical, all of which have left their particular mark. Inside, true masterpieces of art hang on its walls and preserved there as well are the remains of the Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro.• Church of Saint Dominic. It is the oldest church in Lima. Lavishly decorated, the one piece that stands out above the rest is the wooden crucifix carved by Juan Bautista Vásquez. Next door is a convent where the remains of famous Dominican saints rest, the likes of Saint Martin of Porres, Saint Rose of Lima and Saint John Macías. • Church of Saint Francis of Assisi. These church and convent are without a doubt the most notable examples of Colonial architecture in the city. The church’s interior stuns the visitor with pieces like the magnificent wooden seats of the choir, Baroque and Neoclassical retablos (side altars) and religious wood carvings. And, you must find your way to the bowels of the church for there begin the famous catacombs of Lima. • Church of Saint Rose of Lima. An architectural complex formed by the church and sanctuary. Still standing is the house where the saint lived and the hermitage she built with her own hands so she could devote herself to prayer. • Church and Monastery of the Barefoot Friars. Originally opened in 1565 as a house of meditation and penance, today it is site of a valuable art collection, mainly displaying paintings from the Cusco, Lima and Quito Schools. • The Aliaga House. This former residence of one of the founders of Lima, Jerónimo de Aliaga, is now a museum. Above the entrance is a gorgeous balcony built during Lima’s Republican Era, and inside, elegant rooms and attractive patios. • Torre Tagle Palace. One of the main jewels of 18thcentury Colonial architecture. Uncharacteristically, its balconies, Arabic in style, feature an asymmetrical design on its façade. Besides the hallways, patios and corridors, there is a lovely wood paneled prayer room. Now, it is headquarters of the Foreign Affairs Ministry. • Park of the Wall. Showcases the remains of the wall that surrounded Lima in the 17th century. An immense statue of the Conquistador and the city’s founder, Francisco Pizarro, stands in the park, and a site museum displays artifacts recovered from the area. • China Town. Its bustling streets, full of street vendors, malls, banks and stores selling Chinese goods, are the perfect places for enjoying exquisite Peruvian-Chinese food at any of the many restaurants operating there, known locally as “chifas”. • Acho Bullring. It is the oldest bullring in the Americas and the third oldest in the world. October is the month of the celebrated Lord of Miracles Bullfighting Festival in which the world’s best matadors come to show off their skills. Lima Tour Operator: Caral Tour, Lima Museum, Pachacamac, Gold Museum, Tours in Lima.Back to top Excursions from Lima: • Fort Real Felipe. Located in Callao, its military architectural style is one of a kind, dating back to 1776. Pentagonal in shape, it is a masterpiece of stone and brick. • Caral. North of Lima is the arid Supe Valley whose winds sweep over the site of the Caral archeological complex. Tests performed by researchers working there have discovered that the city is 5,000 years old, making it a peer of such great civilizations as Egypt, China and Mesopotamia. The architectural complexity of its pyramids, where archeologists have uncovered important artifacts such as musical instruments, speak of the high degree of scientific and cultural development of its people. • Pachacamac. Also south of Lima, located in the Lurín River Valley, this mud city was, according to the mythology of the ancient peoples of Peru, home of the creator god, Pachacámac (“he who moves the world”) and site of the most important and respected oracle in the Andean world. Archeologists estimate that the site was inhabited as early as 200 A.D. and have called it one of the principal ceremonial centers in the pre- Hispanic Americas. • Lunahuaná. A lovely, sunny valley south of Lima and a perfect spot for adventure sports. If it is food you crave, then order any dish with its river shrimp. Its exquisite wines and pisco brandies must also be tasted. Nearby, rest the ruins of the ancient Inca Wasi (House of the Inca) archeological site. • North Yauyos Cochas Scenic Reserve. Even the most experienced traveler will be astounded by what this corner of the Andes has to offer. Encompassing the upper Cañete River Valley, this area teems with waterfalls and enchanting lagoons, heaven on earth for trout fishermen. Spread out over a vast area of 221,268 hectares, it is well forested and filled with abundant wildlife. Also worth visiting are the two small villages of Huancaya and Vilca with their bridges erected during the Colony. Lima Tour Operator: Caral Tour, Lima Museum, Pachacamac, Gold Museum, Tours in Lima.Back to top WHEN? - Anniversary of the founding of Lima.January 18th. The founding of the Spanish city of Lima is celebrated with live music, parades and popular art fairs. - Surco Wine Festival. Second week in March. You can taste wine and pisco brady and even take part in their preparation at the various wineries of the district of Santiago de Surco. - Pisco Sour Day. February. Peru’s banner cocktail takes center stage this day at all bars and restaurants in Lima. - National Peruvian Paso Horse Show. April 20th – 28th. The show takes place on the grounds of the Mamacona Hacienda (district of Lurín). The best Peruvian Paso horse breeders gather together for this event. - International Book Fair. Last two weeks in July. Peruvian and foreign writers meet and greet inside of 53,820 square feet of space crammed with books. - Lima Film Festival. August. This is an international film festival where you can watch Latin-American films compete against each other, vote for the winner and meet actors, directors and screenwriters from all over the world. - Lord of Miracles. October. The image of the Lord of Miracles (Señor de los Milagros or Cristo Morado – the Purple Christ) exits from its home church and is carried in massive processions through the streets of Lima downtown. By far, it is the most attended religious procession in Peru and one of the most important in the entire world. - Creole Music Day. October 31st. A traditional musical genre from the coast of Peru that has its greatest advocates in Lima.Experience its full force at concerts in bars, restaurants, peñas (traditional pubs) and plazas. Lima Tour Operator: Caral Tour, Lima Museum, Pachacamac, Gold Museum, Tours in Lima.Back to top

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