www.bradtguides.com For some, their strongest associations with Bolivia are contained in the final frozen frame of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, when los bandidos Americanos emerge guns blazing into a Bolivian plaza and a withering hail of bullets, only to live on in Hollywood legend.
For others, it’s the place where Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara entered a similarly murderous final frame in a remote pueblo at the hands of CIA-backed soldiers. However, David Atkinson brings the country alive and up-to-date with Bradt’s all-encompassing first edition guidebook, Bolivia. Atkinson emphasises that today Butch’s handy Spanish phrase ‘esto es un robo’ (‘this is a robbery’) is more likely to be employed by indigenous president Evo Morales, referring to foreign exploitation of Bolivian natural resources.
Elsewhere the revolutionary route can still be followed on the recently developed Che Guevara Trail through tropical southeastern Bolivia. The country has certainly moved on but as the guide points out, Bolivia is where McDonalds failed, and despite the Spanish Conquest ancient cultures endure as rich and vibrant as ever. Right now Bolivia is an organic evolving destination and one of the best places to soak up some authentic Latin American culture before the inevitable arrival of mass tourism.
From high Altiplano to lowland Oriente Bolivia is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries. Rich indigenous culture is mixed with traditional markets, music, festivals and agricultural practices unchanged since the Incas.
The capital, La Paz is the world’s loftiest and Lake Titicaca the world’s highest navigable lake – just some of the country’s superlatives. Bradt’s new guidebook offers the low-down on high-altitude trekking routes, suggests the best way to avoid getting a bite when piranha fishing, details the final footsteps of Che, Butch and Sundance, and explores some of Bolivia’s mysteries including Tiahuanaco, Bolivia’s answer to Machu Picchu. The author has excelled in his exhaustive investigation of the best salteñas (savoury pasty) shops, cafés and restaurants.
David Atkinson is an award-winning travel writer who previously travelled to Bolivia in 2004 as a volunteer and came back a father. David’s writing appears regularly in UK national press and specialist travel publications. These days he lives in northern England with his Bolivian wife and baby daughter.