Bolivia info

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Bolivia is a country of extremes. It has an enormous variety in geographical regions, climates, flora and fauna. A few characteristics of the geography will be presented.
The northern Altiplano and Lake Titicaca

This most known geographical feature of Bolivia is also a quite unique one. The plane present between the eastern and western Andean range is about 1.000 km long and over 100 km wide. Altitude varies ‘  between 3.600 and 4.000 meter. In the north it is limited by the Titicaca Lake and in the south it gradually changes into the rough volcano country of Lipez. The Altiplano is most fertile in the north at the lake, down south it gets dryer and less fertile. Lakes become salty and there are few people living. The Rio Desaguadero is the only outlet of the Titicaca lake and flows to the south. There is a lot of small scale agricultural activity by the local Indians as well as herding of sheep, lamas and alpacas.

Main cities and towns: La Paz, Oruro, Copacabana.

 

The southern Altiplano

This is actually not really a plane any more. Often the name South Lipez is applied. Here we find the largest salt lake in the world, the Salar de Uyuni, as well as many other salt and mineral lakes (Coipasa, Chalviri, Lago Hedionda, Colorada, Verde, Celeste, etc.) , many with flamingos present. The region is scattered with beautiful volcanoes. There is also quite a lot of volcanic activity, as shows the presence of several geysers, boiling mineral mud holes and hot springs.

Main cities and towns: Potosi, Uyuni.

 

The Andes range

The Cordillera de los Andes can be divided into different sections. Each has got its own characteristics and specific attractions. A large part of the native population lives on the slopes of the mountains. They are mostly involved with small scale agriculture and herding of sheep, lamas and cows.

 

La Cordillera Real / The Royal Andes range

This is the central part of the Andes range within Bolivia. Roughly it covers the area between just south of La Paz and the town of Sorata. The range counts with a lot of spectacular peaks, of which many above 6.000 meter. The whole region is intersected by many lakes on the west side. To the east the range drops of sharply into the Yungas. Its proximity to La Paz makes it a relatively popular destination for hikes and mountaineering.

Main city/town: La Paz and Sorata.

 

The Cordillera Apolobamba

This is the northernmost section of the Bolivian Andes, between Sorata and the Peruvian border. The area is much more remote and more difficult to access. Most of the many peaks are above 5.000 but do not exceed 6.000 m. To the east the mountains drop into the sparsely inhabited hills of the Alto Madidi. To the west there are many large melting water lakes. Here is the very beautiful Ulla-Ulla National Park.
Main villages: Charazani, Curva and Pelechuco.

 

The Cordillera Occidental

Along the whole western border of Bolivia stretches the western range. An area were the mountains are more dispersed. Here we find the highest peak of the country, Sajama, as well as many other volcanoes, like the Parinacota and the still active Ollague which is exactly on the border. The region is rich in extremes: salt lakes and very beautiful pampas to the east, the dry dessert of the Atacama to the west. Few
tourist come here, but the potential is very big.
Main villages: Sajama, Charana, Pisiga.

 

The Cordillera Quimsa Cruz

This is a little known area south-east of La Paz. The mountains here are not as high but very impressive. Granite walls of enormous sizes are common. There are a few glaciated peaks as well. An area that yet has to be discovered.

Main village: Araca.

 

The Yungas and cloud forest zone

Speaking of the Yungas we usually refer to the steep eastern slopes of the Andes from Sorata until La Paz. Altitude varies from 2.000 to approx. 3.000 meter. The slopes are amazingly steep and the valleys mostly very narrow. The scenery is very impressive. The Yungas are known for two mayor reasons; first because of the beautiful mountain-forests present; secondly for the cultivation of the coca plant. Further to the south the slopes get less steep and the forest is very often covered in a dense fog. East of Cochabamba the region is called Chapare. This is the main centre of coca plant cultivation.
Main villages Yungas: Guanay, Caranavi, Coroico, Coripata and Chulumani.
Main towns Chapare: Cochabamba and Villa Tunari.

 

The Amazon-basin

Almost two-third of Bolivia is lowland. The northern part of the lowlands, roughly west and north of Rurrenabaque, belong to the Amazon-basin. Here rainforest predominates. The most important rivers of this region are: Rio Beni, Rio Madre de Dios, Rio Orthon and Rio Aruna. The biodiversity is very high in some areas. Regional activities involve logging, gold searching, Brazilnut plantations etc.
Main towns: Rurrenabaque, Ixiamas, Cobija, Porvenir and Riberalta.

 

The pampas or llanos

The rainforest gradually opens up and changes into natural grassland. Large swampy areas are present everywhere but mainly in the south-eastern part of the country. To the far east the landscape becomes part of the Brazilian Pantanal. There is a lot of extensive cattle-raising in this region.

Most important cities/towns: Trinidad and Santa Cruz.

 

The Chaco

In the far south and south-east the landscape is very different again. Here the dry Chaco dominates. Low mountains covered with deciduous forest are prevailing. Eastwards are more savannah-like areas. The Chaco is sparsely populated and has a very special flora and fauna. Few economic activity is performed, mainly cattle-raising and agriculture in the lower flat areas.

Main city: Tarija.

 

WHEN TO TRAVEL?

Roughly all programs can be done from April on until the end of October.

All city programs are all year round possible, even so the trips around La Paz.

All mountaineering tours and the trekking tours in the Cordillera Apolobamba and Real are safest planned from May to the end of September. Except for the Sajama in the west: March to November.The Mapiri yungas trek is best to be done between May and September.

If you want to come to the salt lakes of-season, they will be flooded with water. No crossing possible.

But the rest of South Lipez can theoretically be visited, but count with snow and changes in the route plan.

A season is a statistic something. Do not depend to much on it. Always check with current status of the weather if you have of-season plans, so if you want to do something between November and end of March.

Geology

CLIMATE

Bolivia has of course a lot of different climates, corresponding to each geographical region.
For the tourist the following is most important:
From November to March is summer, when most of the rain falls. This means for La Paz a lot of drizzle and low clouds covering the city. On the Altiplano it rains a lot and lakes flood. Sometimes you get snow. This also the ԫwarm ԫ season, 18 ԼC in the day and 6 ԼC at night. In the lowlands it rains a lot more and temperatures rise up to the thirties during the day. It is very humid.
In wintertime, April to October, it rains very little in La Paz and on the Altiplano. It is sunny and pleasant at day, but it gets cold at night around zero degrees in La Paz and with night frost on the Altiplano. The lowlands stay warm and it rains a bit less. The southern part of the country around Tarija is much drier, with very little rain, but with high temperatures. In the mountains at high altitude, like during the trekking and climbing expeditions, one can expect very cold winds at day and freezing nights (minus 10-20 ԼC). This also counts for the salt lakes and south Lipez, where temperatures drop dramatically at night (minus 10-25 ԼC).
So a trip to Bolivia requires that you are prepared for everything.

National parks and reserves per province.

A brief survey of all protected areas.

Beni Nationale parks

* Territorio Inda‘­gena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Secure
* Noel Kempff

Biosphere Reserves

* Estacia‘³n Biola‘³gica del Beni
* Territorio Inda‘­gena Pila‘³n Lajas

Chuquisaca National Parks

* Parque Nacional y Area Natural de Manejo Integrado Inao

Other Protected Areas

* Area Natural de Manejo Integrado El Palmar

Cochabamba National Parks

* Carrasco
* Territorio Inda‘­gena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Secure
* Tunari

La Paz National Parks

* Parque Nacional y Area Natural de Manejo Integrado Cotapata
* Parque Nacional y Area Natural de Manejo Integrado Madidi

Biosphere Reserves

* Territorio Inda‘­gena Pila‘³n Lajas

Other Protected Areas

* Area Natural de Manejo Integrado Nacional Apolobamba

Oruro National Parks

* Sajama

Pando National Reserves

* Reserva Nacional de Vida Silvestre Amaza‘³nica Manuripi

Potosa‘­ National Parks

* Torotoro

National Reserves

* Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa

Santa Cruz National Parks

* Noel Kempff
* Parque Nacional y Area Natural de Manejo Integrado Ambora‘³
* Parque Nacional y Area Natural de Manejo Integrado Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco
* Parque Nacional y Area Natural de Manejo Integrado Otuquis

Other Protected Areas

* Area Natural de Manejo Integrado San Mata‘­as

Tarija National Parks

* Parque Nacional y Area Natural de Manejo Integrado Aguaraga‘¼e

National Reserves

* Reserva Nacional de Flora y Fauna Tariqua‘­a

Biological Reserves

* Cordillera de Sama

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