Tupiza, an overseen jewel, Bolivia

After seeing the mind blowing salt flats, we couldn’t wait to leave this town, as it was freezing cold. Our bus was about to leave at 6am, hours before the sunrise. You can imagine how cold it was, when you can feel the cold air burning in your lungs. We made our way through the empty streets towards the bus terminal and only the garbage truck gave us company for a while, playing “We are the Champions” in high volume. Once we got our tickets sorted we jumped on the bus and a few moments later it was due to leave. With every minute we could feel how the coldness is taking over our bodies. Slowly centimeter by centimeter the frostiness crawled over our legs and upwards leaving the painful toes behind. The road was surprisingly in quite good shape, with a few exceptions of roadworks, but this didn’t really matter at the moment as we were too busy in keeping our bodies warm. Thoughts of hot days on a white beach with blue water was the best idea and that’s when we considered changing our plans to the Caribbean to escape the cold. Well, it was a thought and the winter just started in South America, so we will keep it as an option, if traveling will become unbearable, as it is today. After about two hours on the bus, the sun finally came over the mountains and some rays touched our face. The bus’s windows were beautifully covered with a layer of thick frost. The bus stopped at a small village called Atocha and everyone got off the bus. We kept waiting and waiting but neither the driver nor other traveler’s came back. Only a French girl sitting a few rows behind us was on board and she told us that the bus won’t continue until 10am, which is more than one hour away. We were hungry so we started to explore the little town to find some breakfast. At the local market we found some places serving some sort of pastry and tea, but two sellers we visited refused to serve us. We knew that in rural areas of Bolivia racism is kind of a daily thing, especially older people considers every white tourist as American and Bolivians hate Americans. A bit disappointed and still hungry we continued our search and finally got some warm empanadas and biscuits. Once we got back to the bus, the sun had reached the terminal and we remained in the sun to soak up some warmth. I kicked a little rock around swirling up all the dusty dirt of the street, but it kept me occupied and warm. It was already after 10am and yet no one seemed to be willing to drive the bus and when we got back on the bus, the girl told us that we actually have to change into another bus, which was about to leave very soon. In the same moment we left the bus, the driver approached us and informed us to change the tickets for the new bus at no extra cost. We hoped onto the other bus and continued our trip towards Tupiza as the sun became so strong that we got over the cold feeling and actually began to take off one layer after the other. In the afternoon we arrived in Tupiza and walked through the streets to find a place to stay. It was a very beautiful and cute little town and while we inquired with all possible places for a quote, we run into the French girl from the bus again. Her prearranged booking for accommodation didn’t work, so she was looking for a new place too. We ended up sharing a room once we found a nice place and negotiated a fair price. For the rest of the day we explored Tupiza a little bit more and found some good street food for dinner.

The following day we decided to hike a valley where astonishing rock formations can be seen. I got some GPS datas which will make it much easier to find the right trail. Anna wanted to go for the same route, but preferred to walk by her own, but ended up joining us as she didn’t find any information about the hike. The trail was actually not really a trail, it was a challenging walk though a dry riverbed. It included rock climbing, jumping down big rocks, and proper path finding as signs or marks were missing. Anna was very happy that she joined us as she wouldn’t have made it without our GPS. The valley was really beautiful and once we got out of the riverbed we had a little lunch break. We were quite exhausted as climbing and hiking in the sun were quite demanding. After another passage of huge rocks we had to climb/jump down we finally arrived in the Valley of the Incas where we could see the rock forest. Many pillars of red rocks next to each other made it look like a forest and with the setting sun the colors came out very beautifully. The entire 14k hike took us about 4,5 hours and we were all glad once we could see the first houses of tupiza and return to our hostel. Anna left that same night and we decided to stay one more. At the local market we bought some fruit and returned to the same lady to get our dinner. We only had enough money left for the bus ride to the Argentinian border so we stayed in the hostel to avoid any unexpected costs of delicious biscuits or other kinds of desserts. After another cold night we made our way to the bus terminal and against what people told us the bus was more expensive than we thought, but we didn’t have any more money anymore. We explained to the driver our situation, so he was cool taking the last money we had and took us all the way to the border town of Bolivia and Argentina, where our adventure in the beautiful but cold country of Bolivia ends. We absolutely loved it and the Salt desert of Uyuni was definitely our highlight even if we loved La Paz a lot with its fabulous markets and its Anden flair. Stay tuned as our adventure will continue in Argentina!

 

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