Archiv der Kategorie: Bolivia

Bolivia – Summary & Pictures

People: Locals are friendly if a bit shy in Bolivia. We didn’t have many closer interactions than for clear tourist reasons. We met a mix of backpackers, many other couples around our age or a little older. Often we were also the only ones in our accommodation though.

Food: A bit of an issue, especially for me. There are not much vegetarian options, lots of fried chicken. The set lunch menus never excited us either. The best places we ate at were a Turkish place in Samaipata and an Italian pizza place in La Paz. Lol.

Weather: We were a bit unlucky with the weather since rainy season hit early this year. We had to cut our time in Bolivia and leave out quite some highlights unfortunately. Too bad! Luckily, we were also treated to some sunny days in the most important places such as Uyuni.

Costs: Bolivia was a nice change after visiting so many expensive countries. Finally things were cheap again! We spent around 28€/day per person. Could have done it a bit cheaper, but we did quite some tours and also some (necessary) shopping for warm clothes.

Accommodation: We almost always stayed in smaller guesthouses in a double room, barely in hostels because they were usually more expensive. What’s odd in Bolivia is that they always mention prices per person, not per room.

Infrastructure: Easy-peasy after the South Pacific. There’s busses or colectivos to go pretty much anywhere you want. Cheap, lots of competition and therefore often quite good (especially long-distance night busses). Taxis are also readily available and cheap and La Paz has awesome cable cars to offer.

Illnesses: Our stomachs didn’t quite enjoy the Bolivian food as much so we both had some issues now and then, especially Mathijs got quite sick once.

Safety: Bolivia is supposed to be a bit more unsafe and therefore I was a bit more nervous about things sometimes… without real reason. Everything went fine!

Itinerary: We visited pretty much all typical tourist destinations plus some that were a bit out of the way such as Samaipata. As mentioned, we would have wanted to see more – especially around La Paz there were some hikes and towns that I would have loved to do/visit. Also, the Sajama national park sounded very good. Guess we’ll just have to come back one more time!

Highlight: The Uyuni-Tour.

Lowlight: The battle with the weather. As in places: Cochabamba.

Click on the photo below to see our full photo album of Bolivia:

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Tupiza to Uyuni: A tour through breathtaking landscapes

When I visited Bolivia in 2012, the Uyuni Tour was my absolute highlight – so I did not mind at all to do it again now 6 years later! This time we started from Tupiza and ended the tour in Uyuni whereas last time I had done Uyuni-San Pedro de Atacama. Starting in Tupiza added one day to the tour – a really cool day during which there were almost no other tour jeeps around. The tour took 3.5 days in total and led through some of the most amazing landscapes we’ve ever seen. We were with a fun couple from Switzerland and our driver-guide Clemente, with who we spent these awesome days driving around by jeep (there are no real roads).

The first day started with a drive to a pretty desert viewpoint. A bit similar to the landscapes we had seen around Tupiza already, but beautiful nevertheless.

 

We then continued to Ciudad de Itas – rock city. Easy to understand why it would be called like that! I’ve hardly ever seen such crazy shaped rocks before in my life. Walking around, we just felt like dwarfs! It’s crazy how wind and weather can create formations like these – at the same time we know they will disappear at one point; they are not for eternity.

 

What followed was a drive through more beautiful landscapes, passing by lamas, vicunas and picturesque lakes. We also visited a sort of mini-Machu Picchu along the way.

 

We slept in a little village in the middle of nowhere, that was made up just by some houses with the people living from farming and the tourists that are passing by. I cannot imagine living in such a remote place – sure, the surrounding landscapes are amazing, but there is just nothing around!

 

Next day was again a day filled with beautiful landscapes… and lots of animals! It started with visiting a lama farm, where hundreds of cute lamas were waiting for us to take photos of them. Haha, some of them were just really cute! And something unexpected – we ended up seeing some ostriches along the way!

 

And that was all before we reached lakes full of flamingos! There were lakes of all colours – green, white, red… and most of them were filled with groups of flamingos. It was so amazing to see these pretty birds from so closeby and Mathijs went crazy with the camera and our zoom-lens. Often, the mirror-effects of the mountains and flamingos together were just stunning!

 

In between, we passed by Dali desert, which I already knew from my first Uyuni Tour, and some geysirs of crazy colours that were sizzling or where mud was bubbling just right next to where we were walking. It’s nice that in a country like Bolivia you can get so close to such natural wonders, whereas in Europe for sure there would be (ugly) fences all over the place.

 

Best of all was Laguna Roja though, near the end of our day. This lake looked just so unnatural in colour, with its bright red parts and loads of pink flamingos feeding in there. Definitely one of our favourite spots of the whole Uyuni Tour!

 

What an awesome 2nd day of our tour! And there was of course still more to come… Namely some more crazy rock formations on the 3rd day to begin with. Unfortunately I felt a bit sick on that day, so wasn’t able to join in on all the climbing and exploring.

 

Later on, we visited Laguna Negra, a black lake in a very picturesque setting with loads of lamas around to pose for photos once again. It was another one of those special places, that we really enjoyed. During this tour, we just went from one amazing landscape to the next, but it was always something different again and again and every day had its surprises waiting for us.

 

A short photo stop was made at Canon de Anaconda, where a dark green river snakes through a canyon, looking like an anaconda from above.

 

We then went to the salt flats to watch sunset there, but it wasn’t really that special to be honest. The sunrise next day (our last day) on an island covered in cacti was way more special! However…we had to share it with hordes of tourists and this was the spot where I got the most annoyed during the whole tour. People just being completely respect-less, climbing past signs saying „no access“ and standing in the way of everyone’s photos and view. Arrrggghhh! So annoying. I preferred the first time I visited this island in 2012 during the day, when it was just as pretty, and I only remember my own tour group being around…

 

What followed, was the most well-known part of the Uyuni Tour: the part where you go out on the salt flats and take funny perspective pictures! While we certainly had some fun with these, it was also rather tricky with a DSLR, as the focus would kind of ruin the picture. But well, it was still amazing being out there on the white salt, nothing but white salt…

 

The last and final stop of our tour was the old train cemetery, basically an area where old trains are left to rot away which is quite scenic and you can take some more nice pictures. Similar to the cactus island though, this place was a bit too overrun by Insta-famous wannabes for our taste.

 

With that, our amazing 4 days had come to an end and our jeep spit us out into ugly Uyuni city, from where we took a bus across the border to San Pedro de Atacama next day… Bye bye, Bolivia! We would have wanted to stay longer, but the rain in some parts made us leave quicker. So I guess we’ll have to come back one day.

Wild West in Tupiza

Our plan of following the sun seemed to be working: when we arrived in Tupiza after a very uncomfortable minibus ride (squeezed in the back with barely any legroom), the sun was shining and the mountains around town were glowing in a beautiful red. A good welcome! On our first full day, we decided to climb up Cerro de la Cruz for a view of the city. It was a bit of a walk along dusty roads first, but the climb itself took shorter than expected and brought us up to a beautiful viewpoint. Seriously, the views in all directions were just stunning!

Since it was getting hotter and hotter, we then took advantage of the free swimming pool in the partner hotel of where we stayed. It was not as nice and refreshing as expected, but a reasonably good way to relax a bit before we had to get some things done, like booking the Uyuni-Tour, getting our laundry done etc. Travel life! We also spontaneously decided to book a 3 h horse riding tour for the next morning, since the prices were really low and it seemed like a great way to see this desert landscape.

Good idea! Next morning, we headed off together with Ladina and Kevin from Switzerland, who should also be our Uyuni group as we found out. We first took a colectivo to the place where the horses are kept, and off we went! The first place we visited was Puerta del Diablo, the devil’s gate, an impressive rock formation where we briefly got off the horses to take some pictures.

We then passed by Valle de los Machos – some more funny looking rocks – to Cañon del Inca, a really cool canyon. But anyways – the whole trip so far had been amazing!! Riding horses in this kind of landscape feels exactly like the thing you should be doing. Sometimes we were going fast, and it felt a little bit like in a Western movie.

So when our guide asked if we didn’t want to extend the trip to 5 h and add Cañon del Duende, we didn’t hesitate for long… We took a route that connects the two canyons – actually quite a long ride, but very beautiful once again. Cañon del Duende itself can be explored better by foot, as it’s quite narrow in the end and you have to climb up and down some rocks to see it. It’s a really cool place with unreal rock formations!

I’m really glad we came all that way even if it meant a long ride back whereas our bones and muscles were starting to hurt and we were out of water since we had only planned on a 3 h ride. But… the landscape and the feeling of riding a horse in these kind of surroundings more than made up for it! Very much recommended.

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