Monthly Archives: July 2008

Jeep trip to the biggest salt plane in the world!


Originally uploaded by Chris_Walker

We have just returned from an incredible 4 day jeep trip to the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia; the biggest salt plane in the world. For the first three days we were driving through the most beautiful and colourful mountain landscapes, and we could have been on first the Moon and then Mars. We saw steaming geysers, blue, red and green lagoons, flocks of flamingos (some only a couple of meters away) and floated in a lovely hot spring. It was all at very high altitude (>4000M) and very cold, especially at night (the second night was like sleeping in a fridge, but with our sleeping bags, liners, all our clothes on and 6 blankets we were warm enough). Then on the final day we got up early to watch the sunrise rise while in the middle of the salt flats with nothing but the hexagons of white salt extending in all directions. We then had our breakfast on a salt table at a cactus covered island in the middle of the flats.

Samaipata to Sucre – the long way round.

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.

Day 206!!

We have finally escaped from big cities after being stuck in Cochabamba and then Santa Cruz by various ailments (all of which are better now). We are now in the little town of Samaipata , which at 1800M is lovely and sunny. Samaipata is a very pretty town surrounded by green mountains, and with its slate roofed houses and tall skinny conifers feels like we could be in the mountains in Italy.

We have already had 2 good days out walking in the amazingly beautiful mountains. Yesterday we walked about 18km to an archaeological site on top of a near by mountain, and are having a day off today as our legs are now very achey.