Countries » Bolivia
Bolivia feels like 'real' South America. Bolivians are largely poor but resilient, and proudly maintain their traditions. About half the population are descended from indigenous Aymaran and Quechuan ancestry, and may only speak partial Spanish let alone English so positive gestures, expressions and body language will get you far.
Bolivia has some amazing experiences to offer, from drinking coca tea, touring the iconic Salt Flats and cycling the 'Death Road' outside capital La Paz, to the colonial delights of Sucre, Lake Titicaca and Isla del Sol.
Transport in Bolivia can be uncomfortable and unsafe, so be cautious about which bus you jump on. The good news is that travelling this high-altitude nation spread across salt plains, dusty mountains and rainforests is cheap, so you can really take your time.
If rotund women in multi-coloured alpaca shawls and bowler hats in Cochabamba sound as interesting as Brazilian babes on Copacabana, then make time for Bolivia in your gap year schedule.