Bolivia, bolivia, bolivia. How I love thee. Besides crossing the border, Bolivia is everything I want in South America. Small towns, decent internet, cheap everything, and the most beautiful scenery north of Patagonia. As an American, crossing borders is generally an expensive endeavor, but in this case it was also timely. Two pages of information including where you’re staying, passport #, when you will leave, a copy of the passport, a color 5cmx5cm passport photo and $160 perfectly mint condition US dollars later you may enter. Why was this a pain? I only had $160 US dollars, there was a microscopic rip in one $20, and some ink on the corner of another $20, YOU SHALL NOT PASS! Just kidding, they kept my passport and said go wander around a town in Bolivia you have never been to and try and find some US dollars. EASY, except the bank with US$ was out of order and the other banks were closed because it was Saturday mid-day and also Carnaval. Long story short I found an ATM that gave Bolivianos, bought US dollars from a brazilian girl I met and 3 hours after I started, I had a visa…for 30 days. After crossing the border from La Quiaca, Argentina to Villazon, Bolivia I took a 4 hour train north to Tupiza in order to begin a 4 day and 3 night “Salar de Uyuni Tour” with Torre Tours (highly recommended). This is an account of what I can remember.
Day 1: Holy altitude. 8 am departure from La Torre hotel and into the wilderness! There were seven of us, yes 7, and I was the only male in the group… This may sound like heaven to some of you, and for others it’s your personal hell, but I loved every bit. Anyways, we jumped in two four runners and took off for a long day of driving on dirt roads! Highlights: saw a newborn llama (like, fresh out of the womb, first steps newborn), broke a wheel on the car, the most beautiful sunset I’ve seen this trip, amazing food made by our co-pilot and our first taste of “air” at 4,000 meters above sea level. Yes, we nonchalantly broke a wheel, or got a flat every few hours. Settle into a “basic” hostel for an amazing meal made by Mitre (I think) and asleep before 10.
Day 2: Wake up and smell the instant coffee. Bread and coffee is whats for breakfast, but I love it! In the car by 8:30 is and off to another day of driving, but this time, we had many stops! Llama farm, a lagoon full of flamingos, our first desert outlook point, Laguna Verde, natural hot springs, some smelly geysers, Laguna Colorado (more flamingos), and a night in a tiny village in the middle of the desert. We were again treated with great food from our cook, amazing scenery and some time around the table playing cards and laughing about everything. I was able to get some amazing photos when the stars came out and get into bed by 10:30 for my first night sleeping above 4,000 meters.
Day 3: Stone trees, lagoons galore, more llamas and a train cemetery. Seriously, that about covers it, pictures will have to suffice for this paragraph.
Day 4: Sunrise on Salar de Uyuni! Wake up at 5:15, herd the group of cats that is 6 girls from 3 different countries, hop in the car and off to the salt flats. Wet season is here which means reflection city! Maybe an inch of water on the flats and it looks like a gigantic mirror. We spent a few hours taking photos, returned to the tiny dirt road town of Uyuni, ate lunch and made my way to potosi with some new friends. Wait until you read that post.
Hope everyone is doing well wherever you are in the world. Don’t forget to reach out if you want any tips or tricks. I am also happy to be your travel buddy if you want to give the world a go! One person has actually taken me up on that and will be here in a couple of weeks to do Macchu Picchu. As always, thanks for reading, and look forward to a couple of short videos about the Salar and the mine tour I recently did!