Che Guevara is an iconic figure in 20th century world history and most people associate him with the island of Cuba. But it was actually in Bolivia that he was shot dead, 50 years ago this October. To mark the anniversary, the South American travel specialists, Real World Holidays, have created a special four-day tour of places in Bolivia associated with this famous revolutionary.
I spoke to Dan Clarke from Real World Holidays and asked him who this tour is likely to appeal to. “Anyone interested in the politics and history of South America and anyone who wants to see the truth behind such a massive figure,” said Dan. “Anyone who likes getting behind the truth of things will enjoy this.”
You’ll get to visit the remote jungle where Che Guevara spent his last days while leading a guerrilla rebellion in Bolivia. “We visit the campsites established by the guerrilla group as well as the museum in La Higuera and the site of the schoolhouse where he was held. There’s also the hospital in Vallegrande where his body was taken and where he was originally buried,” said Dan.
Che was captured after tip-offs from locals in the area. But Dan says Bolivians now see him in a different light. “I think he’s more popular locally now than he was at the time,” explained Dan. “If you read his diaries, you’ll see he was quite frustrated with the locals. He suspected that they were informing the army of his activities. But now, most of them are pleased of the attention. Certainly hotels and tour guides are glad of the business because it’s not a part of the country that sees a lot of interest otherwise.”
Dan says it’s easy to combine this four-day tour with a more extended stay in Bolivia, visiting some of the countries most famous sites. “It is a very different area of the country, deep in the south. But within a day you can be at Lake Titicaca. You’re also not far away from the Salar de Uyuni salt flats, which for me are one of the highlights of South America – absolutely other-wordly.”
Dan told me Bolivia has a different feel to nearby countries in South America. “It’s certainly different to Brazil or Argentina, both of which feel quite European in many ways,” he said. “Bolivia feels much more South American – in good ways and in bad ways. It’s a lot more chaotic but I would say it repays you ten fold. The people are fantastic and the landscapes and scenery are just out of this world.”
Although Bolivia is lacking behind other countries in tourism, Dan says it’s catching up fast. “It’s less challenging than it was even five or ten years ago. Just moving around, the infrastructure is hugely improved and it doesn’t mean it’s taken away from the charm of the place. It’s now more realistic for people going on holiday as opposed to backpackers who have got all the time in the world and can spend three days waiting for a bus.”
To find out more about holidays in Bolivia and for a great article on the history of Che Guevara in the country, go to RealWorldHolidays.co.uk.