On Tupiza

I’ve been travelling about a month now and out of all the places I’ve visited (Cusco, Puno, Copacabana, La Paz and Uyini/Southern Circuit) Tupiza has to be my favourite.

The scenery is simply stunning and when walking outside of town I can’t help but feel I’m in a Clint Eastwood Western. The mountains are a brilliant red and are set off beautifully by lush green trees. You’re walking across sand filled with scrub bushes and cacti. The town itself is a lovely little bustling place with nothing really happening. It’s pleasantly warm at night and red hot during the day. It’s slightly lower than I’ve been recently (at 2950m) so you can breathe easier and when exercising my muscles ached rather than me having to give up for panting for breath. The town is full of people who are all friendly – sit in the plaza reading a book and people will say hello as they pass, pop into a shop and start speaking Spanish and people are overjoyed and do anything to help. The hostels and hotels are cheap, clean and plentiful for the most part. There are random karaokee bars, shops filled with old arcade machines and Rock-band / Sing star set ups.

I’ve eated some nice food, the meat appears to be imported from Argentina and is very tasty – one place we went had a full stake, sausage, rice, potato and salad for B$30 (£2.50) and it was good stuff too! I’ve had home made gnocchi and a pizza from Tu Pizza (see what they did with the name? “Tu” is your in Spanish). Most places here are Italian though and you really need more Veggies!

For entertainment I walked out of town to Cerro Elefente – a rock that looks like a elephant. Once I’d spotted it (had to ask some locals) it really does look like an Elephant! Most of the time you see these things listed and they look nothing like the description, but I could definitely see the resemblance! I continued walking in the canyons and came across a walled cemetery. It was potentially the spookiest thing I’ve ever seen – all these graves and a midi ring tone playing out from one of the gravestones. The thing was the batteries were clearly going as the notes were elongated and not clean as they should have been – as I say, very eerie indeed! A little later on a woman herding goats appeared!

I also went on a 2 day horse trek which showed me even more of the countryside.

Leaving is hard – I wanted to stay and explore some more, but realised that there isn’t much more here. Plenty more canyons to see, but once you’ve seen a couple I felt I’d seen them all. Physically leaving turned out to be hard too! After the horse trek I decided to move on to Sucre hoping to catch up with Alex, Jenny and a few others that are there so I bought a night bus ticket which would get me to Sucre for 7am. “Be at the bus station for half eight, the bus leaves at nine” said the seller. I dutifully turned up to the station at 20:15, talked to some girls whilst waiting and went looking for my bus at 20:45 to find it had left from a different place at 20:30. Another nights stay, an discussion with tourist police and the seller and a day bus instead. I didn’t mind too much – I got to have a nice warm shower and a chance to sleep after the “fun” of the night before and a chance to sit in the main square chatting to Martin (a German who is riding his motorbike around South America for as long as his funds hold out)!

The fun didn’t stop there though – I popped back to the bus station and was taken to where the buses depart (they don’t leave from the bus station) and talked to the Tourist liaison guy (Rodrigo if my memory serves) in Spanglish for an hour or so. He really is  a nice guy and should you be in Tupiza and need help, seek him out! The bus again was a hateful experience, cold and cramped we ploughed on into the night me using my head torch to read before trying to sleep. People keep hitting me on the head, kicking me and all sorts of other things – I couldn’t work out why as I wasn’t asleep when they did it. It was a special kind of unpleasantness, but the best bit came at 4am when the bus broke down. Stranded we were turfed off the bus and a couple of guys made a fire – my help was to follow them round with my head torch to find wood. An hour later or so, the fire started to die down and I wandered off finding a fallen tree which I dragged back to the fire – I returned to a round of applause!

The driver of our bus managed to flag down a passing bus and we clambered up the steep stairs at 6am. As you can imagine the arrival into Sucre left a lot to be desired – tired, cold and arriving to a dull, overcast day I jumped into a taxi and made my way to the hostel I’d chosen previously and promptly fell fast asleep. I made sure I locked the door so no-one could kick me!

Costs

I stayed at the El Refugio del Turista. It’s attached to Hotel Mitru so can spend the day by the pool if you desire (I didn’t though). It’s a nice clean place, cheap and safe. My only complaint is the lack of toilets – there are two toilets (one is a shower too) to six rooms (around fifty people if it were full). After missing my bus I stayed in Hostel Valle Hermoso (next door to the Bus station) and this too was lovely.

Room: 2 nights at B$35, 1 night at B$70
Food: B$329
Entertainment: B$400
Misc: B$22
Tickets to Sucre: 2x B$50
Laundry B$30

Total: B$1021 or £92. £18 per day.

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