From the Uyuni Salar, the largest salt flat in the world to the spiritual Samaipata on the Che Guevara road
South AmericaBolivia18 days / April - May 2019
Highs & Lows
The incredible climates and landscapes of Bolivia
Inundation in Samaipata
Bolivia is a country full of surprises in its small territory built on the indigenious heritage and culture. This trip report is starting in the south west region of Bolivia, from south west in Uyuni (Chilean border) to Samaipata, the subtropical center of Bolivia. Trip locations on the altiplano of the Andes and around.
Destinations and times :
- Salar de Uyuni (3 nights)
- Potosí (3 nights)
- Sucre (5 nights)
- Samaipata (5 nights)
I cross Bolivia from the argentinian border name "La Quiaca" and take a direct bus to Uyuni and get to a cheep hotel room. I had the idea of getting to the salar by myself the next night because it was full moon. I took a local bus by night and get to the last village before the salar. This same village seems abandonned and has a few building in constructions. I plant my tent and did a fire for all the night because Uyuni get really cold on night.
The next morning I pack everything and get to the Salar hitchhiking and walking during about 1 hour. On the morning Uyuni is in complet silence but unfortunatly, when the tours begin, the traffic seems never end and the white flat starts to be painted with black stains thanks to 4x4 and cars.
Tours all included (nights and food) for Uyuni are about 3 to 5 days.
Uyuni has a market with inexpensive typical menu or fresh vegetables and fruits. Accommodations are for every budget in hotel or hostel.
Potosí is a very high latitude town in the altiplano of the Andes and its famous for its silver mountain and thousand of mines, named the Cerro Rico ("rich hill"). Potosí is one of the world's highest cities with 4050m high and its street can be ardous because inclined. You can get easily exausted and take a breath in the middle of the block.
The historical and touristic part of Potosí is really cute and full of monuments and churches to take good pictures. The city is really known for its central market. There are actually two markets located side by side, primarily clothing and souvenirs or electronic OR food stands for an inexpensive good meal (Mercado 17 de Febrero).
For a daytrip to the "Cerro Rico" you can get by yourself by local or get a guided tour in tourism agency or hostel.
I really love Sucre and its white colonial architecture and family parks. Beeing the administrating capital, Sucre people are serious and polite with a strong family culture and uses. Nightlife is really quiet and ends early, walk and take pictures in the lighting park. By day, students and young families are always passing by the few places and parks.
Sucre is a cultural city and has a lot of museums, theater, shows, classes ... About that, Sucre has a lot of english speakers and mostly college students in association propose Spanish classes in your hostel on the morning.
Ask your program :
- Art Galleries and expositions
- Espacio Cultural Origenes (traditional dances)
- Museum of indigenous Art "La Recoleta"
- Live music and concert
Daytrip to Yotala, take your trekking shoes and take a 40' minutes bus from the cemetory. Yotala is a small rural village crossed by the river and its beautiful panoramic view from the ancient train tracker. I did a volunteering project in permaculture there and it's a really cute village to take a walk around.
Authentic and sacred village of Samaipata surrounded by a subtropical mountain, on the Che Guevara road to Amazon.
A lot of rural volunteering projects by families from all around the world, are open in Samaipata. A lot accomadations from resort, houses, hotel or hostels and camping are available in the village and around for every budget.
Adventures around Samaipata :
- Walking Trails
- Visit ruins
- Waterfalls and natural sources of water
- Rent a bike
- Laguna Quenusillas
Samaipata has a lot of options for your breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner thanks to its market and international restaurants with vegan and vegetarian options.
Nightlife in Samaipata : base on foreight travellers must of the time with livemusic in bars and a fresh craft beer.
(Samaipata get submerged by the river on an early morning and basically I lost almost everything [included my pictures and camera]. I don't blame this natural catastrophy but the camping because they know it happens but they let you put your tent and sleep in an flood zone.)
Q & A
Restaurant recommendations?Try street typicals drinks on the morning or on a cold afternoon: a chicha hot drink or alcohol, have a sweet typical hot apple juice or vegan cooked milks of oat, quinoa, soya (..) all can be in chocolate option. A 5 bolivians menu and soup on night (11pm) out of the markets or churches can save you.
Tips you would give a friend?Bolivians "Abuelas" almost every backpacker I met before going to Bolivia told me, that its people was closed-minded and unpolite. I felt them at the opposite, very honest and full of kidness
Packing tips?Bolivia has a cold and dry climate in highlands and a hot and humid one in the Amazon. Take good shoes for your trails and adventures and good clothes for the hard weather.
Transportation Tips?Local Bus is very cheep and sometimes it´s the best option. Hitchhiking can be long and rare because the traffic in highlands is base on commercial trucks and ... buses.