Hot Spots

The It List 2009

by Ondine Cohane

Bolivia

Whether it's surfing in Nicaragua, diving in Honduras, or fly-fishing in Patagonia, Latin America has become a thrill seeker's paradise. Now Bolivia is taking its turn, emerging as an extreme-sports zone. The country's topography incorporates many of its neighbors' best features, including deep Amazonian jungles, a vast desert, and soaring Andes mountains. Even better, it maintains the low prices that the others have long abandoned. Many mountain bikers make directly for North Yungas Road (pictured), which leads from La Paz to the town of Chulumani, and is often called the world's most dangerous road. Imagine pedaling 40 miles down 12,000 feet of hairpin turns through mountain passes with few guardrails. But you can see the country's breathtaking beauty without risking life and limb. Choices range from the more than 4,000 square miles of salt flats (where even one of the hotels is made out of salt) to the biodiverse Amazonian basin, where piranhas and anacondas are among the main residents. There's also prime kayaking along Lake Titicaca on the Peruvian-Bolivian border. Add in colorful villages, gorgeous pre-Incan ruins, and some of the friendliest people in Latin America, and you'll wonder why you didn't get here sooner. Well, that may be because of the notoriously uneven infrastructure and shaky government—firebrand president Evo Morales is a big supporter of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez—but it's unlikely to affect your own visit negatively. Unless you're ready to rough it MacGyver-style, book your trip with Blue Parallel and take along one of their expert guides. They've just launched customized countrywide itineraries that kick off from the capital of La Paz, and include a trip to Chacaltaya, at 18,000 feet the world's highest ski resort.

NEXT: Who Said They Were the Badlands? >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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