Territory

Wonders of Bolivia

Laguna Verde, Potosí in Bolivia
Laguna Verde, Potosí / Pedro Szekely, / CC BY 2.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

Bolivia IS full of unexpected, pleasant surprises!

This country has an amazing natural diversity – from highland deserts and snow-capped mountains to wast lowlands covered with tropical forest. Here are found all kinds of landmarks. Many wonders of Bolivia still are waiting for their discovery.

The most interesting wonders could be:

  • Archaeological monuments – Bolivia is a home of several exciting ancient cultures, including the great Tiwanaku civilization, here are located some of the most important Inca sites, as well as sites of many other known and unknown cultures.
  • Historical churches and monasteries. True wonders are the churches in the old Jesuit Missions in Santa Cruz department – a few centuries ago here met the artistic traditions of local people and Europeans and the result is brilliant. Not less stunning is the portal of San Lorenzo de Carangas Church in Potosí.
  • Landscape and living nature of plateaus in eastern Santa Cruz – endless forest filled with hundreds of species of orchids and other flowers, with incredibly tall, vertical cliffs rising up in the clouds, magnificent waterfalls and countless archaeological monuments waiting for their explorers.
  • Volcanic plateaus with salt lakes in Oruro and Potosí – some of the tallest volcanoes in the world with geothermal fields, the largest salt flats in the world with the otherworldly landscape, lakes in various colors, and geysers.

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of Bolivia

Geological wonders

Laguna Colorada

Potosí

Shallow salt lake with interesting geology. The water of the lake is colored by algae in red and orange colors. In the lake have formed borax islands in white color. Here live the rare James’s flamingos (Phoenicoparrus jamesi) – this is the highest habitat of flamingos.

Laguna Colorada, Potosí in Bolivia
Sol de Mañana

Potosí

This visually impressive field of sulfur springs contains pools with boiling mud. Some abandoned boreholes emit pressurized steam up to 50 m high.

Sol de Mañana, Potosí in Bolivia
Toro Toro Canyon

Potosí

Magnificent, up to 300 m deep canyon. The area is rich with interesting attractions including caves, cave paintings, prehistoric Quechua ruins, fossils (dinosaur trails and turtle cemetery).

Árbol de Piedra

Potosí

Amazing cliff formation – a mushroom/tree formed rock in the desert, standing on a thin “foot”.

Valle de Tucuvaca

Santa Cruz (Bolivia)

Visually impressive landscape with amazing cliff formations – natural arches and caves. One of the best-preserved stands of Chiquitano dry forest, with numerous rare species of plants including numerous species of bright flowering trees and orchids.

Arcoiris Falls

Santa Cruz (Bolivia)

Magnificent, 88 m tall, and approximately 50 m wide waterfall, located in a dramatic and pristine natural setting in Noel Kampff National Park, on the rim of the exotic tableland.

Arcoiris Falls with rainbow, Bolivia

Biological wonders

Incahuasi Island (Fish Island)

Potosí

Unusual monument of nature – stony island (25 ha) in the middle of Salar de Uyuni – the largest salt flat in the world. Island is covered with a grove of gigantic cacti Echinopsis atacamensis ssp. pasacana, which together with the surrounding unusual landscape creates eerie sight. Similar groves of cacti are on other nearby islands as well, f.e. Isla del Pescado.

Nevado Sajama queñua forests

Oruro

Stands of queñua (Polylepis tarapacana) trees growing up to 5,200 m height. This might be the record altitude for trees.

Archaeological wonders

Tiwanaku

La Paz

Capital of the precursor of the Inca Empire, developed in 300 – 1000 AD. Ancient pilgrimage center of high spiritual importance. Remnants of monumental, megalithic stone architecture with carved sculptures. Near Tiwanaku is Puma Punku – a site that contains amazing stone “details” – giant stones carved in complex forms, up to 131 tons heavy.

Ruins of Tiwanaku, Bolivia
Samaipata

Santa Cruz (Bolivia)

The ceremonial center of Mojocoya and Inca people, located on the top of the mountain. Includes the largest known sculpted rock in the world – a 250 m long, 60 m wide, horizontal area covered with carvings in sandstone. Constructed in the 3rd – 16th centuries.

Samaipata, ring shaped incision in the cliff
Sajama Lines

Oruro

Many thousands of lines cut in the ground for thousands of years and forming a web-like pattern. Lines cover 22,525 km² large area.

Iskanwaya

La Paz

A Bolivian “Machu Picchu” – a ceremonial center and settlement in a dramatic mountain setting, developed since approximately 800 BC and rebuilt in its current form in 1145 – 1425 AD. Now ruins of several hundred buildings remain.

Chusaqueri

Oruro

A prehispanic necropolis with chullpas – burial towers. Several burial towers have preserved their polychrome painting.

Architecture wonders

Potosí

Potosí

A historical mining city next to the largest silver mine in the world. Located at 4,090 m height. In the 17th century was one of the largest and richest cities in the world, numerous very ornate and interesting structures were built in the city in this time.

Potosí, Bolivia
San Lorenzo de Carangas Church

Potosí

An ornate church, constructed in 1548 – the 18th century. Notable is the sumptuous ornamentation of the portal.

Detail of San Lorenzo de Carangas Church portal, Potosí
San Rafael de Velasco Jesuit Mission

Santa Cruz

This Jesuit mission was established in 1721. One of the most beautiful wooden churches worldwide, meticulously restored and well maintained. The church decoration is a unique fusion of European and indigenous arts, performed with sophisticated taste.

Sucre

Chuquisaca

A well preserved historic city with numerous buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Here started the South American independence movement.

San Miguel de Velasco Jesuit Mission

Santa Cruz

Well preserved and ornate church with a massive belltower.

Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana

La Paz

A large and visually impressive shrine, built in Renaissance style in 1550 in the site of Inca cult site. Rebuilt in 1610 and 1651, plundered during the independence wars but still very impressive and interesting.

San José de Chiquitos Jesuit Mission

La Paz

This mission was founded in 1696. The church and other buildings of this Jesuit mission are built of stone and represent a unique adaptation of Baroque architecture. Church built in 1747, the bell tower in 1748, ossuary in 1750, collegy and workshops – in 1754.

Casa de la Libertad

Chuquisaca

This Jesuit college building was constructed in 1621. This building has huge symbolic importance for Bolivia – here was proclaimed the independence of the republic.

Santa Barbara Church, Sucre

Chuquisaca

The only church in Bolivia in Renaissance style. Interior is much later, in Neo-Gothic style from 1887.

San Ignacio de Velasco Jesuit Mission

Santa Cruz

This Jesuit mission was established in 1748. The church is beautiful, richly ornamented, and well maintained.

San Francisco Xavier Jesuit Mission (San Javier)

Santa Cruz

Small village – former Jesuit mission, founded in 1691, developed in its current site in 1708. The richly decorated temple has been preserved and is in a good state.

Torre de la Compañía

Potosí

Visually impressive, ornate bell tower, constructed in 1707 in Baroque style.

WorldYellow Recommended books

The Rough Guide to Bolivia


This new, fully-updated edition of The Rough Guide to Bolivia helps you discover both the big sights and the hidden gems, with expert reviews of the best places to stay, eat and drink for everyone from backpackers to five-star travelers.

Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon


For fans of The Lost City of Z, Walking the Amazon, and Turn Right at Machu Picchu comes naturalist and explorer Paul Rosolie’s extraordinary adventure in the uncharted tributaries of the Western Amazon — a tale of discovery that vividly captures the awe, beauty, and isolation of this endangered land and presents an impassioned call to save it.


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