Hola todos!! It has been a while, and thanks to some struggles on the way I’m only able to write this story right now. In my two weeks in Bolivia I celebrated my birthday, visited the Salar de Uyuni, had a broken laptop, suffered from altitude, had a lot of crappy internet but also loads of adventures! So there is enough to tell, so sit tight and enjoy :)!
After having thoroughly enjoyed Northern Argentina, I ended up in Salta. In my hostel, I met a great group of people! I met a Belgium guy – Kenneth, and two English girls, Anna & Claire. We hit it off straight away and felt like we had been friends forever 🙂
Because it’s easier and cheaper to book a tour to the salt flats in Bolivia as a group, we decided to stick together for our two weeks in Bolivia. Together we left for Tupiza, Bolivia. We took a nightbus and arrived at the border at 6am in the morning. We had already climbed a couple of 1000 meters and you could really feel it in your body! Then we had to wait around a bit, accompanied by more backpackers and very cute dog and then took a taxi to the border.
This all went quite smoothly. Then I remembered I had read somewhere that it might be cheap to take private transport (taxi) to Tupiza. That’s what we did, and it was cheap and fast! We were so happy we did this – other people that where with us at the border arrived at 9pm, we arrived at 11 am!! So if you’re with 3 or 4 people, that’s really the way to go!
Tupiza is a cute little town 2 hours from the Argentine/Bolivian border, famous for its horse riding opportunities. So that’s what we did! A very beautiful 3 hour ride with good galopping (thanks Claire for switching horses 😉 – mine was soo fat it couldn’t run). Then we almost got killed by an upcoming, unexpected train from the mines. Luckily the horses knew what to do when the train popped up from around the corner!!
Salar de Uyuni
After two nights in Tupiza it was time for the long awaited tour of the area around the Salar de Uyuni!! From Tupiza it was a 4 day, 3 night tour to end up in Uyuni. I had done extensive research on this tour, and it appeared to be better to book via Tupiza for multiple reasons: 1) less tour operators – means less competition and in this case, less frauds! 2) fewer people – fewer chances to have a super full jeep 3) it’s a one-way trip from Tupiza to Uyuni so you save yourself another busride 🙂
Comfortably with the 4 of us in the jeep, we left with Hernan (driver/guide) and Julia (cook). The first day started off with some thrilling moments! It was rainy season. This in combination with dirt roads means lots of muddy roads! Add to that high cliffs and things get very exciting and scary.
Luckily, Hernan kept us on the road and we arrived at our first accommodation without trouble. Basic accommodations without showers, but with running water and toilets, so not too bad! Most ” natural toilets” we created smelled way better than the public toilets we encountered on the way. This was really not great!!
We woke up at 4am to leave at 5am for a very long day, and WOW, it was worth it. We saw so many beautiful things. Snow capped mountains all over the place, laguna here, flamingo there.
The greatest deception were the hotsprings – where 30 other jeeps were waiting. But still, not having showered for 2 days it was nice to get clean with hot water! Despite the hotsprings, the second day was the best of the whole trip! We took 600 pictures all together, imagine how great it was.
The 3rd day was beautiful again with many flamingo’s, but a bit less scenic than day 2. We arrived in Uyuni at night, at the night before my birthday! Because of the altitude we couldn’t have a big party! And of course we had to get up early again next day to get to the famous Salt Flats of Uyuni 🙂 .
In the morning, I got some great surprises for my birthday – a huuuuge cake baked by Julia, balloons in the car, some birthday cards and a bottle of champaign in the Salar!
Together with the great pictures this made for an awesome birthday. Special thanks to Kenneth, Anna and Claire!! 🙂
Next day it was time to say goodbye! Anna and Claire left for La Paz and I travelled with Kenneth to Potosi, the highest city in the world!! Indeed very high :). And rainy, seriously rainy!! The streets were completely flooded, so we just went out for some drinks and hamburgers and an early night of sleep. The next day, Kenneth visited the Potosi Mines .
Potosi is not just the highest city in the world, but was once really rich too due to its mines. Dark, deep dusty narrow hallways are not really my thing, so I decided to have a sleep in ;-). That same afternoon, we decided to take the bus to Sucre.
In the afternoon, we left for Sucre! Unfortunately, then I got hit by some nasty bacteria messing up my body, so I was ill whole next day! So no Sucre for me :(. I could live with it, because it had already been two weeks in Bolivia and I could use some rest 🙂
Next day I was a bit better and we went to visit the dinosaur park. You are supposed to be able to view ancient footprints from the dinosaurs, so we expected to get really close and take awesome pictures. Unfortunately, they were more than 100 meters away, and the rest of the park was created for kids. Waste of time and money, but good fun :P.
Getting to La Paz
The next day Kenneth and I took a plane to La Paz. Instead of a nasty 12 hour busride, this was quite comfortable especially because I was still feeling ill.
To make things worse, my laptop broke down on the way!! A stupid windows mistake. So I had to find someone who could fix it. Our first hostel in La Paz was a hostel we went to because the one I preferred was full. It was bitterly cold, but enough for a night of sleep. The people were nice and they got me someone to fix my laptop next day. It took 3 days, but then it was mostly fixed!
In the meantime, we spoiled ourselves with some nice restaurants and city life. We also visited a Cholitas Wrestling match with the hostel. It’s like Hulk Hogan, but then female and in traditional clothes 😉 Not for everyone, but funny enough for a night out!
Two weeks in Bolivia – Leaving for Lima
After my two weeks in Bolivia, I decided to leave for Lima because I had an application interview with my prospective University. I was also still feeling sick of the illness and the altitude in La Paz didn’t help me. La Paz is great though! I am looking forward to come back there in August on my way to Sao Paolo.
I decided to take a non-stop bus to Lima, which was more expensive than to do it the creative way (by taking bus to border, bus to other town, bus to Lima) but comfortable. Therefore, I also had to skip Lake Titicaca, but I knew I had to come back the same way when going to Sao Paolo to complete my South-America itinerary and fly back home!
Arriving in Lima
After 30 hours in the bus (beautiful route along the Peruvian coast!!), 30 minutes in the taxi (que trafico!!), I arrived at Calle Schell 644, my new home! My new landlord, Marcela was waiting there and showed me into my new house. She and her mother even made my bed as I was so tired I could barely walk.
I fixed the last driver on my computer (the audio driver – which is quite essential to have an interview over skype) and went to bed. Early rise, shopping for breakfast, and the interview for the CEMS-MIM programme at Rotterdam University. Hope it’s good enough, I’m with the last 100 and they admit 70.. so close! Let’s keep hopes up! Mid-march I should get the result.
Today I went for a walk with some new girls from my house. Had a look at the beach and there are great waves for surfing. Although you first have to descend a couple of hundred meters before you’re at the beach – Lima is built upon a cliff.
So far so good over here, really enjoying and good to have a steady place again after 2 months of hard-core travelling! Tonight we should have an integration party with the people already living here :).
Untill the next blog!