My First Time in The Desert – Tupiza, Bolivia
Tupiza, Bolivia is a small town in the southern part of Bolivia that really only has a few draws for travelers. I made my way to Tupiza from Potosi, where I toured the Cerro Rico mines, as I had heard from other travelers that it’s a great place to begin a 4 day tour of the Uyuni Salt Flats and surrounding areas.
I found a quaint town still uncomplicated by technology or the Western World. The only wifi I could find in town was at one of the better hotels. None of the restaurants or café’s had it which even in Bolivia is unusual. There was one ATM in town which is better than the Lonely Planet reports of no ATM’s. The lack of the outside world makes it a great place to unwind for a couple of days which is just what I did.
What To Do Around Tupiza
Tupiza is set in a Western Cowboy’s wonderland or multi-colored mountains and rock formations straight out of the American West. One of the best ways to experience the astounding scenery is on horseback ride. You can either arrange rides yourself or most of the hotels and hostels will prearrange it for you.
I enjoyed a diversified tour that they call the triathlon. Essentially you spend a portion of the day wandering the mountain desert in a jeep, then you spend a couple of hours riding horses, and finally for a bit of adrenaline you ride a mountain bike downhill on a road that could rival the Death Road in views.
Nearby Tupiza is the small Pueblo of San Vincente, famed as the town where the infamous American bank robbers Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were gunned down. Though not a great distance away, the roads are so bad that if you want to visit where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid met their end you will spend a full day traveling back and forth from Tupiza. I was told it takes 4 hours one way to reach the small town and I wouldn’t have minded the drive but the price tag to go solo was a bit too much for the budget.
Finally, Tupiza is growing in popularity as a jumping off spot for a 4 day tour of the Salar de Uyuni and the Natural Park in southern Bolivia. I selected Tupiza to start my tour as generally the tour companies have better reputations than those in Uyuni and the trip starts in the desert and the views and sights get progressively better until you finally arrive at the Salar. I think it would have been a bit of a letdown to experience the tour in the reverse direction.