Travel Story «Bolivia - Uyuni,Sucre,Cochabamba»
13 September 2005
Last Update 12 October 2005
We got to Bolivia Sunday 4th Sept at a very very cold 1o´clock in the morning, arriving into a town called Uyuni. Uyuni is the town were everyone stays for a couple of days in order to go see the famous salt plains (Salair de Uyuni). Anyway, we were hustled from the train station by a load of locals at 1am up to a local hostel place to spend the night. We were too cold to argue with them and half asleep already so we just went with them and hoped the accommodation was okay. Already because we were over 3660m above sea level the altitude sickness was kicking in.
Corona was suffering with a pounding headache and nausea while I was just feeling CRAZY dizzy and completely out of breath when I tried doin anything in the least that required effort.
Anyway it was sleeping bags and woolly hats that night....
The next day we were still feeling completely wrecked from the altitude so we decided to get out of the shabbyish hostel we were in and take advantage of how CHEAP Bolivia is by booking into a top-class brand-new built hotel called The Tonito Hotel for a mere 12euro each a night! It was recommended by the Lonely Planet and deservedly so. Theres a great restaurant in the hotel called MinuteMan owned by a very sound American guy called Chris. Because Uyuni is such a tiny town with very little restaurants that you could call "Hygienic" we ate there most nights. Again, this was a top-notch restaurant and myself+Corona could have a massive dinner for the two of us with starters,main course,drinks etc for 6 euro for the two of us in total...this was the cheapest country by far so far...just couldn´t believe it!! Grrrrreat!
Anyway, after we rested for a couple of nights we decided we were fit enough to take the Salt plains tour we had come for so we went off to a company called Cloque Tours to book it. It´s a 3 day, 2 nights tour and our mode of transport was a very weary looking 4x4 Jeep. There were 6 of us in the group in total + the driver. The driver was a legend and was the spit of the little guy in the white suit from that 70´s program "
Island ". The other 4 people were 2 couples, both from Belgium. Steve and Anjas (Sound!) and I´m afraid I can´t remember the others names, the guy was Nicholas I think! Sorry! Anyway all in all we were a great group and had great times!!
Anway, the first day we drove through the worlds largest salt flats at an area of 12,000 sq km at an altitude of 3,650. The flats are amazing, salt, salt and more salt. When you get out into the middle of the flats its like being at sea with only a salt ocean for as far as you can see in any direction. I´ve put up a short video of this in the videos section ( www.daveandcorona.com/movies.html ). Also visited an entire hotel made of you guessed it solely salt, incredible. Got some great photos of the hotel owners kids when we were there, they didn´t want let go of Corona!! Also came to an island in the middle of the salt flats with amazing strands of giant cactus. One of the cacti was over 12m high and was around 1200 years old!! Had lunch here too...got what looked like stake but didn´t really taste like it...found out after that it may have been llama!! Scrummmtious!
So that night we stayed in a hotel in the middle of no-where and still managed to bump into a bus load of around 10 Irish guys+gals. Mad! Anyway, had a good night there sitting over a bottle of white wine with a dinner of soup, chicken and rice. It was pretty early to bed though cos we were to get up at 6am next morn for the 2nd day of the tour...
The 2nd day was mostly driving and got to see the most amazing mountainous scenery we´ve ever seen. Were we stopped off for lunch was a black lake covered completely in pink flamingos and banked by tons of llamas! Got some good photos there too but couldn’t get too near the flamingos cos they run the minute they think your coming near them... later that day we were ascending to nearly 5000m, yes, 5km into the sky so my breathing became very uncomfortable and I for the first time started to get a pounding headache+feel sick while there wasn´t a bother on Corona!! Altitude sickness is very weird like that, it just affects people in different ways at different times... We broke down a couple of times on the way and once in the MIDDLE of a desert with nothing as far as the eye could see but dirt! Luckly our driver was like MacGyiver! He asked me for a knife, cut some rope from a bag on the roof, went in under the truck came back out then started the truck again no bother! We didn´t ask any questions...just happy to be moving again!!!!!
Anyway, the last stop that night was a hostel in the middle of a national park that was on a lake that was pulsating and glowing red by the time we arrived due to millions of a particular type of algae that live in the water and come out in the evening. The hostel was what could only be described as a cement shed with very stiff board matressed beds. It was only 530pm when we got there and it was already nearly 0 degs Celsius. We were told it would get down to -20 degs during the night which was just FANTASTIC news altogether...
That night I couldn´t eat any dinner I was feeling so sick and so went to bed at around 8pm dressed in 4 t-shirts, jumper, jeans, socks, gloves, hat, sleeping bag and tons of blankets and still we were only just comfortably warm. Remember, we were in the middle of an open desert, in a damp, concrete shed with no heating whatsoever! Frrrrreeeezzzzzing! The coldest night ever! We were all bunked into one room and everyone was awakeing at all hours praying that it would soon be dawn....corona even went to bed with her wooly hat and gloves.....we were all in stiches looking at her...what a sight!!
We rose at 6am the next morning (I was feeling 100% better) and left for the final day of our tour at 7am. The first stop was a very welcomed
hot springs were we could get in and heat up. Alot of people striped of completely and had a nice bath but all our gear was locked up on top of the truck so we just took off our shoes and socks and stuck the feet in...still felt great!!
Hot springs are the business!
After this we drove for a little while longer and arrived at these natural geysers that stunk of rotten eggs from the sulphur hissing out of the ground. It was icy cold here because once again we were at 5000m. After this is was Laguna Verde and Laguna Blanco. They are a green and white lake in the middle of the desert, they were nice enough but what really made them look good was the reflection of the mountains on the frozen over lakes...looked great.
After this it was to see what they call the stone tree. This is a huge rock (very weirdly shaped like a tree) that shoots up out of the middle of the desert. It looks like it just doesn´t belong there, very strange indeed! Theres photos of all this stuff in the photos section...
It was a long 8 hour drive back to Uyuni then for the final leg. Thank God I had my iPod and corona had her vey addictive book which she could´nt leave from her hands cos the driver had this crazy 80´s Bolivian music going the whole way home, just one tape on repeat...disaster!
It was soooo good getting back to Hotel Tonito in Uyuni that night for a nice warm shower (couldn´t have one on the tour) and some nice clean clothes and warm beds!! Ahhhh! Went to dinner that night with the guys from Belgium and said goodbye that night too cos they were heading for
La Paz . Steve I hope you got your guitar alright and in time before you left for home!!!
The next day we said goodbye to Uyuni and got a 6 hour bus journey (2.50 euro) to the capital of Bolivia,
Sucre . This is were we have spent the last 4 days chillin out and having a good time. We booked into a HI hostel (that looks nothing like a hostel, more a hotel) with our room fully equipped with Jacuzzi, cable TV, movies, king size beds, fresh towels etc etc....Sucre is a great spot and a well developed city. By pure luck we arrived on the first day of a 3 day carnival that happens once a year! Couldn´t believe our luck and the weather was hot and sunny for those days also which made a change from Uyuni!! The atmosphere was electric over these days and nights but now it´s died down again. We checked out a museum while we were here were we saw some very scary stuff including the skeletal remains of a women and her baby dating 1200BC that they dug out of the ground here in Sucre in the 90´s. I stuck up a photo of this also, it’s a bit shaky though cos I had to take the photo on the sly cos you’re not supposed to photograph anything! Last night sat in a local pub called the Joyride Cafe (highly recommended) for the night watching Kill Bill Vol1+2 back to back on a large projector screen...very cosy! Tomorrow we are going to take a "Dino Truck!" to an area containing the largest concentration of fossilised dino footprints anywhere in the world. Should be interesting enough!
We leave Sucre for Cochabamba on Thurs evening again and arrive at yet again another crazy hour of 2 o´clock the following morning. The weather will be fantastic in Cochabamba so the summer clothes will be out again....WAHEYYYYYYYYYYYYY.......Thats another big city so will check that out for a couple of days but then we go 6 hours north of this again to work in the animal sanctuary for 15 days. That should be an experience to say the least. I get the impression were going to be cut off from all communication for that 15 days so might be a while before we can update the site again....hopefully will have some amazing photos by then though!
Ok so, I think thats it.
Talk to ya´s all again soon!
Dave and Corona.
PS: I originally wrote that email last Monday but never got a chance to post it on the site. That night we went out in Sucre to the Biblioconcert cafe and went to see a fairly famous group of spanish guitar players from La Paz and Santa Cruaz (they were up for the music festival). Anyway some how we managed getting sitting beside all of them in there and got talking to them... to cut a long story short we ended up going back with these "famous" dudes to a friend of theirs house in Sucre. It was QUALITY with a capital Q! When we arrived we all put 10 bolivianos in a pot and one of the guys went off to find an off-licence eventually bringing back a couple of bottles of vodka and some mixers to keep the party going. Guitars were flying around the room and everyone was BRILLIANT on the guitar with tons of tunes constantly flowing the whole night! Best house guitar session I`ve ever been to! Unbelievable and sure theres a few photos up there of back in the house. I even plucked up the courage to give yet again another rendition of "Blackbird" on the guitar! Actually went down well, they were all singin away to it...I couldn´t believe they knew it! Anyway, had to leave the party at 7am cos we had a bus to catch the next day to Cochabamba....needless to say we were in ribbons the following day and I (Dave) decided I was far too unwell to travel on a smelly bus for 10 hours so we stayed one more night in Sucre this time in the Grand Hotel were we just chilled out with the movie channels! :o)
Next day we got bus to were we are now (Cochabamba) arriving at 5 in the morning (not 2 as originally thought). Booked into the first hotel we could see at that hour (dingy horrible place for the first time ever!) and put our heads down for a couple of hours until we could leave and find a proper place the next morn.
Cochabamba is a huge city and while we are here we have been taking 1on1 spanish lessons with a guy we got out of the lonely planet, legend. Its really helping y yo se mas espaniol todo dia! (haha)
Lastnight went to what is supposed to be the best Italian restaurante in the whole of Bolivia, and it was! Quality! We had 2 bottles of wine, starters,main course,desert and the bill came to 138 bolivianos (13.80 euro). We decided to TREAT ourselves AGAIN cos it was killing us we couldn´t go out for the night that night cos we had Spanish lessons at 9am this morn.
Anyway, we don´t have spanish until 4pm tomorrow so we´re gona hit the town tonight and see what Cochabamba has to offer! We leave on Tuesday for the animal sanctuary.
You should go a check out the new photos that are up for Argentina+Bolivia now anyway! I also stuck up a couple more videos...
OK, Bye for now!
Dave and Corona.
03 November 2005
Last Update 03 December 2010