Savvy Traveler Q&A: Bolivia with Travel Blogger, Meg Jerrard of Mapping Megan
June 01 2015
Bolivia. It is like no other place on the planet.
There are the breathtaking Andes, the daunting altitude, the lush rainforest, the too-small bowler hats worn by the indigenous women, the vast salt flat, the decorated llamas, the pink flamingos, and that famous harrowing mountain bike ride. All of this plus more makes this land locked South American country an obvious answer to those seeking adventure, culture and nature.
I traveled to Bolivia back in August of last year, and was captured by the diverse and perplexing nation. However, when we set out to do our summer travel series, I didn't expect it to be so difficult to find another savvy traveler who had penetrated its sovereign borders. With high hopes I reached out to one of my all time favorite travel bloggers, Megan Jerrard of Mapping Megan, and asked her if she would share her Bolivian adventure. It was with great delight that I received her response of, "it would be my pleasure!"
I am thrilled to have you explore Bolivia through the eyes of this experienced adventurer. Let your wanderlust ignite!
Name: Meg Jerrard
Occupation: Travel Blogger
Hometown: Canberra, Australia
When did you first fall in love with travel?
I hit the UK for a year after graduating high school and realized that travel made me truly feel alive - it was a feeling of excitement, adventure, and I think also the escape from monotony.
I realized seeing the world in living color far surpassed settling for watching it on a television screen or reading about it in a book. I wanted to actually feel, taste, and experience the world instead of settling for the version I was reading about in books.
What’s your favorite way to get through a long flight?
Catching up on my new release movies - on my last flight from the United States to Australia I may have watched Disney's Frozen on repeat for 16 hours ... self professed Disney freak right here!!
What is the most unique memory of your time in Bolivia?
Bolivia is one of those countries which offers so many unique experiences, so I'm hard pressed to define just one. Definitely cycling "death road" - a 69 kilometer narrow one way road which snakes it's way around the side of a very sheer cliff, this is known as the most dangerous road in the world!! Luckil I lived to tell the tale, though it was sheer adrenalin the whole way down!
Next would be abseiling out the window of a 17th story building in the middle of La Paz, and then you can't forget the wildlife experiences from exploring the Bolivian Amazon!! Swimming with pink water dolphins, fishing for piranhas, hunting for pythons - it was the experience of a lifetime!
Megan about to tackle "Death Road."
Did you experience altitude sickness in Bolivia? If so how did you remedy it? Coca leaves?
Both myself and Mike experienced Altitude sickness upon arriving in La Paz, and this lasted probably 2 days. Honestly we just slept it off and were very unproductive for those initial few days while we let our bodies acclimatize naturally. We would go outside and attempt to explore the city though even walking up the smallest crest felt like you were running a marathon.
At 12,000 feet above sea level the lack of oxygen definitely takes some acclimatizing. It just takes getting used to, so I would highly recommend anyone planning a trip to Bolivia to allow for a few days at the beginning of the trip to deal with altitude sickness.
To give you some perspective, on flying into La Paz we could see the Andean peaks through the plane windows in flight - it was as if we were flying low to the ground, but in reality, it's that the land was so high!
What local dish did you try?
Piranha, caught fresh from the Amazon River basin! This was definitely a perk of our Amazon River tour; they're not incredibly meaty little creatures, though do taste delish!
This is what piranha looks like for dinner!
What was your most unusual experience in Bolivia?
It was most definitely witnessing all the hanging llama fetuses in the witch market in La Paz. That place was incredibly...interesting!! One of the more unique sights in La Paz, vendors from the witch markets sell all kinds of different animal biproducts which form part of sacred rituals and the sorts, and it's now become one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city.
Is there something you recommend everyone do if they go to Bolivia?
Walk the streets of La Paz - there are so many interesting and quirky side streets, markets, and just generally take in the different street scenes; women in traditional dress selling fruits on the side of the road, spectacular Andean peaks looming up ahead, gorgeous historic buildings, and hanging llama fetuses in the witch market!! It's an absolutely beautiful city, and you've got something different (and even strange) on every corner.
Pack comfortable walking shoes - there are many steep hills throughout the city as La Paz is one which is built into a valley in the mountains. Also, kayaking Lake Titicaca - it's a must!
What was your most memorable meal in Bolivia?
Every night we were in La Paz we had room service delivered to us in our room at the Ritz. That's right, we stayed in a beautiful one bedroom apartment at the Ritz for a full week ... for $80 a night!!
Bolivia is one of those countries where your money literally goes further than you ever would have imagined, so our most memorable meals from this trip are part of the fact that we could order prime steaks every night from room service and it only cost $20 USD!!
What travel tip or essential item to pack do you have for Bolivia?
If you're flying domestically within the country, you'll most likely end up taking the local airline Amazonas. Allow for an extra day inbetween your arrival and the departure of any tours in your final destination; the local airlines in Bolivia are notorious for cancellations and flight delays. We got caught and had to postpone our Amazon tour by a day after an unexpected overnight delay in La Paz.
Also, travel with the credit card you booked the flight on. They make you present it when you collect your boarding pass, and they'll force you to purchase new tickets if you present a different card. Something about trying to prevent fraud.
View from Amazonas airline.
Would you visit Bolivia again?
I would highly recommend Bolivia to absolutely everyone because it's such an amazing country full of phenomenal opportunities for adventure, cultural immersion and nature/wildlife experiences. We spent 2 weeks here and I feel like we experienced the country in full, so the only reason why I personally wouldn't go back is because there's so much more of the world to explore!
Want to learn more about Meg's time in Bolivia? Check out her travel post below:
Megan with a piranha she caught in the Amazon River basin!
**All Photos by Mapping Megan**
More about Megan:
Megan is an Australian Journalist, and the founder and Senior Editor of Mapping Megan – an award-winning adventure travel blog bringing you the latest in adventure travel from all over the globe.
With the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure, Megan and husband Mike believe travel has the potential to inspire change in people, and in turn inspire change in the world. They embraced travel as a lifestyle in 2007, and are dedicated to documenting their journey and observations through entertaining, candid articles and brilliant photography.
Adrenalin junkies and incredibly active travellers, from mountain biking the most dangerous road in the world (Bolivia), to skydiving over the Swiss Alps and summiting Mt Kilimanjaro, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven't been everywhere, but it's on their list.