The central valleys contain the cities of Cochabamba, Sucre, Potosi and Tarija.
Bolivia's 'city of eternal spring', due to its warmer climate, is not on the main tourist trail but is an important gateway to some special nature and birdwatching regions within the Carrasco National Park, Villa Tunari and the Tunari National Park.
The city itself offers some of the best and cheapest places to eat authentic Bolivian food including the "pique macho", a favourite dish among Bolivians. Cochabamba's vast, vibrant street market - "La Cancha" - sells almost everything you could think of and is quite the shopping experience.
Tin baron Simon Patino (1862-1947) was born in Cochabamba. Nicknamed the Andean Rockefeller, Patino was the fifth richest man of the 20th Century and built himself a house in Cochabamba in the 1920's to reflect his status. It was conceived with no expense spared and the modest influences for sections of the house include Versailles, the Vatican and the Alhambra. Unfortunately no photographs are allowed to be taken while inside.
Villa Tunari, the biggest settlement of the Chapare region, is the entry point to the Carrasco National Park, a unique location for birdwatching enthusiasts. Towards the northeast of the park the oilbird can be seen around its breeding ground in the Cavernas de Repechon.
Spanish conquistadors called Tarija the Andalucia of Bolivia for its sunny climate, valleys of vineyards and arid mountain scenery. Its similarities with southern Spain were so striking that Luis the Funtes, Tarija's founder, name the river that crossed the city Guadalquivir, after the river that flows through Seville.
The city was founded in 1574 as a southern frontier for Alto Peru, the colonial territory that is modern day Bolivia. Since then Tarija has thrived as a wine, cattle and grain provider for the mining centres of the highlands.
Tarija is famous for its award winning Tannat wines, its carnival and the warmth of its people. The city is small enough to explore on foot and spend a couple of days sampling the region's wines and local produce.
Toro Toro National Park
One of the highlights of the region, but lesser known, is the Toro Toro National Park. You'll see outstanding fossils, dinosaur footprints that could have been made yesterday, dramatic caves, plunging canyons and stunning mountains - geology made enthralling.
Toro Toro is a full-day drive by 4WD from Cochabamba. In places, the road is even scarier than the notorious 'Road of Death', but the ends justify the means; a new road is near to completion.
The central valleys are a rich region for birdlife, and Toro Toro is a good place to see Bolivia's endemic, endangered and magnificent red-fronted macaw.