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The Southwest: Salt-flats, Colored Lakes and Vineyards

Some of Bolivia鈥檚 biggest expanses of wilderness, naturally colored landscapes and lush valleys all lie in this southwest corner of the country, which extends down to the borders of Chile and Argentina.

To the west, the southern part of the Altiplano, or high plain, is dominated by staggering stretches of salt flats and miles of surrealist desert studded with towering volcanic peaks. Driving through the Salar de Uyuni is an out-of-body experience鈥攐n a sunny day, the blindingly white salt flats act as a mirror, reflecting the blue sky and clouds, or even the stars on a clear night. Given the inhospitable terrain and the infrequency of local buses, the easiest way to visit this region is on a four-day jeep tour from Uyuni or Tupiza.

To the east, the highlands drop down into dusty red plains where orchards and vineyards soak up the blazing sun. Occasionally the desolate plains split, creating canyons that plunge down into fertile green valleys, making it another good area for trekking. An added bonus is the ability to sample some of Bolivia麓s finest vintages in the numerous bodegas surrounding the city of Tarija.

Although this region麓s high altitude has made it difficult for much to grow or flourish here, it does have an abundance of natural resources like sodium, iron, tin and silver. In fact, the biggest city in this region is Oruro, whose history is almost completely entangled with that of the silver and tin mining industries.









12 Jan 2010

Top Museums in the Southwest

Museo Arqueologia y Antropologico de los Andes Meridionales

Uyuni's only cultural attraction, this museum features mummies and skulls, with Spanish-only descriptions of the process of mummification and cranial deformation. ...
Museum
Uyuni, Bolivia

Museo Nacional Paleontol贸gico Arqueol贸gico

This free university museum on the corner of Calle General Bernardo Trigo and Calle Virginio Lema displays an impressive collection of fossils, dinosaur bones, ceramics, precious stones and human ...
Museum
Tarija, Bolivia

Museo Sacro, Folkl贸rico, Arqueol贸gico y Minero

The Museo Sacro, Folkl贸rico, Arqueol贸gico y Minero is a definitely worth a visit if you鈥檙e hanging around Oruro. Attached to the Sanctuario de Savac贸n, it has both above-ground and below-ground ...
Museum
Oruro, Bolivia

Museo Nacional Antropol贸gico Eduardo Lopez Rivas

Anthropoligcal and archaeological artifacts as well as information about the Chipayas and Urus tribes are on display at the Museo Nacional Antropol贸gico Eduardo Lopez Rivas. Carnaval costumes and a ...
Museum
Oruro, Bolivia

Take a Tour of the Southwest

Tupiza Tours

Tupiza tours is popular with backpackers looking for adventure-filled trips at decent prices. Guides are knowledgeable and friendly, some speak English. This company also offers fans of Butch Cassidy ...
Tour Operator
Tupiza, Bolivia

Natour and Salt Fields Trips

Natour offer a few options of Salt Flats trips, including some different options for the three-day, two-night trip, including trips that have superior accommodations, and then some two day tours and ...
Tour Operator
Uyuni, Bolivia

Andes Salt Expeditions

With offices in both Potos铆 and Uyuni, this tour operator provides a wide variety of Salt Flats tours, from one day and two-day-one-night options through six-day-five-night trips. Some of the longer ...
Tour Operator
Uyuni, Bolivia

Zig-Zag Eco Tours and Treks

Based out of La Paz, Zig-Zag can provide a pretty standard three day, two night tour of the Salar, taking in the regular attractions that are visited. The tour can drop travelers who want to head ...
Tour Operator
Uyuni, Bolivia

Ruta Verde

Owned by a Dutch and Bolivian couple, Ruta Verde offers a standard three day, two night tour of the Salt Flats that takes in all of the main attractions on the circuit. They can also provide two and ...
Tour Operator
Uyuni, Bolivia

Viva Tours

VIVA TOURS is a tour operator specializing in ecological tourism and adventure. We have more than a decade of experience, marked by transparency, responsibility and efficiency, and offer services at ...
Tour Operator
Tarija, Bolivia

Oruro Tours

As it鈥檚 not very touristed, and frankly there isn鈥檛 much to see, Oruro lacks on the tour agency front. There are some travel agencies situated around the plaza principal and as far as tours ...
Tour Operator
Oruro, Bolivia

Bambu Travel

Not exactly a tour agency, Bambu Tours still serves as one of Oruro's travel information centers. The office helps plan bus, train and plane travel, both national and international. It's a small, two ...
Tour Operator
Oruro, Bolivia

Sur Bike

One of the newer editions to the Tarija tourist scene, Sur Bike specialize in downhill bike tours in Tarija鈥檚 stunning countryside. Owner Ernesto and wife Andrea are the epitome of hospitality and ...
Tour Operator
Tarija, Bolivia

Br煤jula Travel

This friendly travel agent has activities to fit any budget. Their specialty trips take visitors rapelling and trekking in the Valle de los Condores. They also have tours to the Camino de Inca, ...
Tour Operator
Tarija, Bolivia

Latina Real Tours

This friendly, German-run travel agency has a wealth of information about activities around Tarija and across the whole of Bolivia. They specialize in long-haul trips covering numerous departments in ...
Tour Operator
Tarija, Bolivia

Stunning Architecture of the Southwest

Iglesia de San Roque

This 19th Century church looks over the city like a watch-tower, perched up on a hill at the top of Calle General Bernardo Trigo 鈥 and with good reason, it was used as a look-out point when it was ...
Historical Building
Tarija, Bolivia

Casa Dorada

The magnificent ochre and silver Casa Dorado sits in the middle of the city on the corner of Calle General Bernardo Trigo and Calle Ingavi just a block away from the main plaza. It took more than 20 ...
Historical Building
Tarija, Bolivia

Bas铆lica y Convento de San Francisco y Museo Fray Francisco Miguel Mari

The Bas铆lica San Francisco was built in 1606 and is the oldest church in town - try and go inside to see the beautiful oil paintings (there is mass most evenings). The museum is housed in the ...
Historical Building
Tarija, Bolivia
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