From Samaipata we wanted to travel to the next big town on our way back west across the country into the highlands. There was a night bus we could take which would take us all the way. But after reading about a very expensive organized trip which went there by jeep staying in local villages on the way, we decided to try and do it ourselves. It was made all the more exciting as none of these places are in our guide book and no one seemed really sure about the times or existence of buses.
The route would be following the ´Ruta del Che´. The remote area of Bolivian highlands where Che Guevara unsuccessfully attempted to instigate a revolution to overthrow the US backed military dictatorship. He was captured and executed in this area by an elite ranger battalion of the Bolivian army trained by the US green berets, on the 8th and 9th of October respectively.
Day 1 Samaipata to Vallegrande.
By 11am we are by the side of the road waiting for the many buses which apparently pass through in the next couple of hours. 3pm, give up standing and looking down the road and go and get some food in a cafe by the road side. 5:30pm, after deciding to wait to see if there is any room on the 7pm night bus straight to Sucre, the owner the cafe we had been lingering in for the past few hours shouts us and the elusive ´12pm´ bus to Vallegrande has arrived! We squeeze on to the already very crowded bus, and find a space stood up at the back.
We arrive into the small town of Vallegrandein the dark, hoping there is some where to stay, and after being pointed in the right direction we find a very nice cheap hotel with a real mattress, and not just the piece of thin foam we have become accustomed to.
Day 2 Vallegrande.
Day 3 Vallegrande to pucara.
Get the local 8am bus to Pucara, a tiny remote village set over looking the most amazing mountain landscape. We find a small very basic (no electricity, like most of the village) but clean hostel on the main square, and go in search of food and bus times.. We find out that the bus too Serrano leaves on Saturday and Wednesday. So as today is Thursday I guess we are staying here until Saturday. We are a bit worried as the money is starting to run low and we have not seen a bank since Santa Cruz. But relax a bit after finding no where to actually spend any money except 2 shops which sell cream crackers and tinned meats. So it´s a pack of cream crackers and a tin of sardines for lunch and a tin of sausages for tea…
Climb up above the village and watch a beautiful sunset over the mountains. Then as there is no electricity in our room we find ourselves in our little rickety bed for 7:30pm (with just enough battery left on the ipod to watch the Matrix).
Day 4 Pucara
After a breakfast of cream crackers and apricot jam we set off to walk the final 15km of the Ruta del Che which takes us though the valley where he was finally captured and too the village where he was executed.
Day 5 Pucara to Serrano.
Day 6 Serrano to Sucre.