After 5 beautiful days in Salta (Argentina), we crossed the border from La Quiaca to Villazon and started our trip in Bolivia! We started in Tupiza, did a 3 days tour of Uyuni, enjoyed Potosi and Sucre, a tour in Torotoro, La Paz, passed almost 2 weeks in Rurrenabaque, lived the Carnaval of Oruro, visited the ruins of Tiwanaku and finished our trip on Titicaca lake before crossing the border in Kasani.
From Salta we took a night bus (2300Ars) and arrived in La Quiaca. Not much to see there but we’ve been stuck one day because of the form we hadn’t fill in online (phones and wifi connections were cut that day).
After crossing the border (see the details of the process) we took a “colectivo” to Tupiza (20bol, 3h).
Tip: Change only the minimum of your money there (we only received 1/3 of the value of our ARS) .
In Tupiza we stood 2 nights: 1st day we took rest, walking only to get money, to eat and to get an Entel card (you need to register at the Multicentro – we paid 10bs for the chip and 6Go).
Second day we climbed to Cerro de la Cruz (8bs tuktuk with return).
You can also go to ride horses for 15€ for 3h, and you can start a 4d/3n tours to Uyuni for 5000bs for a group of 4 people (1250bs/pers). Instead we decided to go to Uyuni directly and take a cheaper tour from there (650bs 3d/2n).
To sleep: Hôtel La Torre (147bs, with great breakfast)
To eat: Churrasqueria Moises, pizzeria The Alamo
To go to Uyuni from Tupiza: We took a bus at 12am (50bs, 5h trip)
We started with the train cimentery. You will see the first locomotive (English one) brought there in 1850 mainly to send the silver to Chile and Argentina.
Then we headed to the salar where you can only drive at 15km/h when it’s flooded. Between January and March is the rainy season.
Good thing is you will enjoy the biggest mirror of the World. Bad thing you cannot access at Incahuasi island during this period.
After a quick stop to the hotel to leave the food, we went to the “Ojos del Salar” where gaz is escaping.
Then we had lunch near to the Dakar monument and the flags island. We enjoyed a full afternoon in the salar, playing with the mirror effect and staying until the sunset, the most beautiful of our life!
We slept at a nice Salt hostel called Hostal Dulce Salada.
Price of Uyuni Tour (3d/2n): 650bs/person
Included: 2 nights, food and boots (only necessary when you have the mirror effect, as the water can be 20cm deep).
– the entrance of Parque Eduardo Avaroa (150bs)
– the toilets (between 2 and 5bs)
– the hot shower (20bs)
Contact of our guide: Edwin +59163683925
We left at 8am for a long road to Valle de las Piedras where we had lunch. Then we passed by the volcan Oyahue and lagunas Hediondas and Honda and finally the Siloli desert (with the Stone Tree).
we arrived at the entrance of the Parque Eduardo Avaroa at 5pm (150bs the entrance) and visited the mirador of Laguna Colorada (best time is before 4pm to appreciate the colours).
We woke up early to leave at 5am to appreciate the smoke of the geisers. At 7am we enjoyed the hot water of Chalviri and had a great breakfast there. We crossed the Dali desert and headed to Laguna Blanca, Laguna Verde and Licancabur volcan. The tour finished there and we went back to Uyuni passing the beautiful Laguna Kara and Laguna Pastos Grandes. We were back around 6.30pm.
To sleep in Uyuni: Hostal Nichkito (147bs double room with breakfast)
How to go to Potosi from Uyuni: We took a bus at 11.30am (30bs) around 4h trip. You have many more departures all day long from the « terminal » Calle Arce.
From the bus station we went directly to our hostel: a nice colonial house near by the center (30min walk going up to the hill, I would recommend to take a cab instead).
The Casco Viejo is really beautiful. Potosi was the center of the World in the XVIIcentury due to the Cerro Rico full of silver. It’s also the second highest city of the World (4070m)! You can visit the mine still in activity, and still using people in very bad conditions (we didn’t)…
On the main place you have a statue of Liberty copy in bronze which was dressed only 4 years after the one of NYC to celebrate the century of the Bolivian independance.
The day after we visited the Money museum (40bs) and the cathedral. You also have the Torre de la Compañía but it was closed at that time.
To sleep: Hospedaje Maria Victoria (140bs double room with breakfast)
To eat: American Burger (22bs)
Considered for a lot of people as the capital of the country, it was indeed the center of upper Peru. Called Chacras, and then la Plata, this city with its white buildings is one of the most beautiful in Bolivia (and Patrimony of Humanity). If you want to enjoy the market you can have lunch on the 3rd floor with good Sopa De Mani (5bs) and Chorizo (15bs). The cemetery also worth the visit.
Casa de la libertad
Known as the first historic monument of the country, it’s where has been signed the independency. The tour guide will teach you the history of the revolution, talking about Bolivar, Sucre but also Juana Azurduy (entrance: 15bs)
Convento San Felipe
Before used as a Catholic Church and convent, it’s now a college you can only visit it from 2pm to 6pm (ring the bell on Nicolas Ortiz Street to enter). You will visit the church, the roof and if you’re luck the crypt! (entrance: 17bs)
Nice walk with nice view on the city. Not much to visit but the view worth the climbing!
Museo of etnology (musef)
Free museum with a lot of research made around the local traditions to understand the diversity of the Bolivian people. It stood in an old classical bank and house of Francisco Algardonia.
Cafe de la torre
Nearby the main place, this old church tower is now a coffee. You can enjoy a good breakfast behind the bells with great view on the city!
San Francisco church
Old Franciscan church with a terrasse on the roof to enjoy a good coffee!
From Sucre we took a night bus to Cochabamba (we left at 9pm and arrived at 4.30am) then a taxi to the colectivo at 6.30am. We arrived at 10am and went to the parc office to buy our entrances (100bs each). Behind this office you have the guides who presented us the options (you can split the cost with a group):
- Hellas de dinausorios (dino’s footsteps), the Vergel waterfall and the Gran Canyon. 160bs (60 for the transport and 100 the guide)
- Stone cathedral and ciudad de itas with cave speleology. 600bs for the transport and guide, and you need to add 12bs for the equipment and 2.5bs for the cave entrance per person
- Tortugas cimentery and siete vueltas: 320bs
As we were only 2 we took the first option. Our guide told us the moto taxi was cheaper if needed!
How to go to Torotoro: The only way is to take a colectivo (35bs, 3h trip) from Cochabamba (Avenida Vallegrande – 20bs from the bus terminal or 30min walking)
Here is a list of the main sightseeing’s in La Paz:
- El alto and the biggest market in Latino America every Thursday and Sunday (best is to take the yellow line to 16 de Julio to have the full view of the city)
- Mirador Killi Killi
- Archeology museum (closed for CoVid reason)
- Historic center with Plaza Murillo and street Jaén
- Plaza mayor de San Francisco and behind it the witch market (Calle Linares and Santa Cruz)
- Challuma Hill with it’s coloured houses (above the red line)
In one day you can also go to visit the Valle de La Luna or the Death Valley by bike.
Where to eat or take a drink:
– El Bestiario (café teatro with various shows and great food)
– Costilla de Adam (craziest decoration ever)
– Cafe Typica (in a nice garden)
– El Popular: Gastronomic for only 70bs the menu (only for lunch)
– DT Brew house (real draft beers)
– How to go to La Paz from Cochabamba: From the Terminal there are plenty buses leaving all day long. We paid 40bs per person with Flota Cosmos (around 7h trip)
– How to go to La Paz from Rurrenabaque: You only have night buses leaving around 7pm. Check more info about Rurrenabaque.
– How to go to La Paz from Oruro: 35bs bus from the terminal, with plenty buses leaving all day long!
Rurrenabaque: see the dedicated post
Carnaval of Oruro
Oruro carnaval is one of the biggest celebration in Latin America, on Unesco List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Accomodation during Oruro Carnival: Prices of the hotels are amazingly raising for this event, so we shared a room with an other couple (784bs per night for a room with 4 beds).
Seats tickets for the Carnival: You need to pay if you want to be seated and enjoy the parade of the 50 folkloric groups. We heard prices of seats between 150bs and 500bs, and we paid ourselves 220bs for the two days (from 6am to 2am). You buy it directly where you want to be seated.
Parade: The parade starts from Avenida Villaroel, follows Avenida 6 de Agosto, Calle Bolivar, Plaza 10 de Febrero and ends to the Santuario Socavon (with dancers and musicians on their knees in respect to the Virgin).
The city hasn’t really big interest, appart from the Virgin Monument you can reach by teleferic (20bs per person one way). We also visited the cathedral and Sovacon museum which is an old mine with a small sanctuary to Tio God (14bs for 15min visit + 3bs if you wanna take photos). This visit also includes a second museum with old artefacts found in the region and the traditional masks used during the Carnaval (small but nice).
How to go to Oruro from La Paz: A lot of buses are leaving from the city center terminal. We paid only 25bs to go, and 35bs to go back.
Tiwanaku (Tiahuanacu) and Pumapunku ruins
After this week-end of carnaval we went back to La Paz for a night and left for Tihuanaku by the morning. Those ruins are incredible and the guide told us a lot about the history and traditions of Tiwanaku tribe. You can visit there a site with 3 temples, a piramid, a cimentary and 2 museums: one about ceramics, the second about llama and the biggest statue found on the site and in South America (Bennett Monolyth, 7.2m).
Entrance fee: 100bs for tourists.
Guide (I recommend): 80bs for the main site, 130bs for the 2 sites and 2 museums (we only paid 100bs for the whole tour, sharing with a Bolivian family).
To go to Tiahuanaku from La Paz:
Colectivo from the Terminal de Transporte Interprovincial de El Alto (close to the teleferic Estación UPEA). Around 1h30 and between 15bs and 20bs (if you cannot find colectivos for Tiahuanacu you can take one to Desaguadero: They’ll leave you on the main road, 30min walking to the city center and the ruins).
To go back to La Paz we only paid 8bs picking a colectivo on the main road.
Copacabana and Isla del Sol
From the Terminal de Transporte Interprovincial de El Alto we took a colectivo to Copacabana (20bs, 3h) right after coming back from Tihuanaku. We arrived by night and visited the city the day after.
We climbed to the hill of Horca del Inca, the Inca rock (falsy baptized by the Spanish when they arrived: Pachataka means “place where time is measured“). You can see there an old observatory made with 3 stones, but also stones cutted to be send to Tiahuanacu (said by the gardian who requested 10bs to go there). It would be great to have a guide there to tell us a bit more about this unknown site… We also saw a beautiful sunset on Cerro Calvaro, second great mirador.
Second day we took a boat to the North part of Isla del Sol, which just reopened in December 2021! We paid 50bs round trip and as the boat was late (he left at 10am instead of 9.30) we went directly to the ruins (usually the boat leaves you on Challapampa Beach where you walk 45min to arrive to the ruins). It gave us the time to visit quickly the ruins (in 20min) and to go to the south by walk (3h – 9km). You can also go back to the boat which wait until 2pm before going to Yumani (south).
Warning: The floating islands are FAKE! The real ones are in Peru (Puno). The ones they have on Isla del Sol or nearby Copacabana are made with barils and wood! Worse: they made you fish the trout from a fishnest…
See also « From Titicaca to Cuzco » (2017)
Summary of our trip:
Day 1: Villazon – Tupiza
Day 2-3: Tupiza
Day 4-5-6: Uyuni tour
Day 7-8: Potosi
Day 9-10: Sucre
Day 11-12-13: Torotoro (Julien was sick so we took rest there but 2 days are enough)
Day 14-15: La Paz
Day 16 to 24: Rurrenabaque
Day 25-26: Oruro
Day 27: Ruins or Tihuanaku
Day 28-29: Titicaca
Some words in Queshua:
Acuripuna = vamos
Eminacachanki = como estas
Eminaparanicun = como almarecieron
Vicuricuna = hay que comer
Misky = rico
Pachi = gracias
Crossing the border La Quiaca – Villazon
You first need to validate all this documentation in the Bolivian desk before having your exit stamp from Argentinian desk.
Then you will cross the border to the health center where they take your temperature and age, and finally you will be registered in an other desk (they will send you print the copy of your passport with the page of the Argentinian stamps).
Here we had the surprise not having our passeport stamped: they gave us a paper instead saying you will have to register everytime you arrive in a new place on their website (codes are your passeport number).
Crossing the border in Kasani to Peru
We exchanged our last pesos bolivianos in Copacabana with a perfect exchange rate (700bs => 379soles). We took a colectivo for 3bs per person (leaving on Plaza Sucre) to Kasani to cross the border. On Bolivian side they checked our updates on the migration website, and on Peruvian side they requested our vaccines and made us fill a form before checking our vitals. It was very fast (30min total to cross). Let’s go to Peru!!!