Tell us a bit about you and your husband Tim. What's your travel style, and what are some of your favorite destinations?
We both love traveling and have been to a number of places, both together and separately. Tim has been to Mongolia, Burundi, Morocco, and China, and wants to go to South America next. I've always wanted to go to Africa, and am off to New York next week (and hope to go to Canada as well!). We both want to go to Thailand—and of course, I would love to return to Bolivia after having such a great time on my recent trip.
Our travel style is well-rounded. We like to explore by walking around and discovering as we go, but we also enjoy having a structured plan. Tim prefers to cram a lot of action into the itinerary, while I like to go more slowly and take it all in. We both enjoy staying with local people as it feels like we are learning about the culture in a deeper way.
Tell us about the family heritage connection to your Bolivia trip.
I was adopted when I was 5 weeks old. I was born in La Paz, and my family from the UK came all the way to Bolivia to get me. I have always known I was adopted, and my parents would often share stories about how they brought me into the family. I have always felt that I have a special story, and knew that one day, I would return to my country of birth.
Sadly my dad passed away last year, and it left me in a position to finally visit Bolivia. I had lots of worries about what it would be like, but I knew that it would be retracing the journey he took when he adopted me. So that was special for me.
What encouraged you to seek some help from a local specialist for your Bolivia trip?
When I knew I was able to go to Bolivia, I did some research and decided that a guided tour was my best option. I wasn’t planning specifically to take a private tour, but I'm so glad I did. I felt Marie, our local specialist at kimkim, was really informative. She was able to include everything I wanted at a price I felt comfortable with.
Do you have any favorite/especially memorable moments from Bolivia that you'd like to share?
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There are so many memories from the trip, it’s difficult to pin down the most memorable. Everything I experienced gave me so many emotions. The kindness of the locals and their hospitality. The beauty of the Laguna Colorada in the morning. The joy of eating outside looking at mountains and lagoons. And pinching myself that I was at the salt flats!
But I think all my memories are connected to people. People make a trip and we had great guides who gave us so much information about the culture and lifestyle. People cooked for us and the food was delicious. The guide who drove us through all the landscapes. The other travelers we met along the way. It’s people that make a place!
What did you like about Bolivia from a photographer's standpoint? What are your favorite photos from the trip?
As a keen amateur photographer, Bolivia is a dream with so many opportunities to shoot. I took 1000+ photos on my iPhone (decided not to take my heavy camera) and I could have taken more. Everything was interesting! I especially loved taking photos of the salt flats.
You were able to take part in some cool local experiences, like staying with Jamie and Marisol and seeing wrestling in La Paz. Tell us how cultural experiences enhanced your trip.
Staying with Jamie and Marisol [in the Aymara village of Chuñavi, Cordillera Real] was amazing— there were so kind and I think we ate the best food with them. Really enjoyed that they encouraged us to join in with activities such as picking potatoes and making cheese. Plus as it was my birthday I found they helped me celebrate well! They showed us parts of their lives and that’s an honor.
The wrestling was crazy! Just going to El Alto was crazy. I think we were too tired to really enjoy this fully but it was a lovely novelty at the end of our trip.
Did anything about the trip surprise you?
The surprise for me of the trip was it was not as "dangerous" as I expected in terms of what some travel sites suggested. All places have certain crime levels, but I felt safe and protected. I was on a guided tour, but that was very important for me.
Do you feel like you covered Bolivia pretty comprehensively? What would you want to see if you visit again?
Tim and I definitely want to go back to Bolivia. Tim wants to see Santa Cruz and the Amazon, and I would like to go back to La Paz and see the mountains again. I don’t think I would be bored of seeing them!
Would you recommend this itinerary? Is there anything you would change if you could do it again?
I would definitely recommend this trip. I think it was great that the guides didn’t always take us to the tourist hot spots, so it felt personal. The only thing I would change is maybe adding some rest days. By the time we got to Potosi, we were so tired that we didn’t get to explore as much! So I should have incorporated a few more days, making the trip 3 weeks instead of 2.
Last but not least: Where do you want to travel next?
Lastly... yes Thailand is our plan for the next big trip!
Casi's trip was planned by Marie Laine, our local specialist based in Bolivia.