Salta to Tupiza (Bolivia)

Trip Start Mar 01, 2007
Trip End Jun 01, 2007

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

After meeting an American called Mike on the Quebrada tour, we thought it would be quicker to all share a taxi to Salta.  This was fine, except that the taxi driver managed to squeeze another passenger in as well - so in the end it probably wasn´t much better than the bus!

Salta is a gorgeous city, with huge baroque style churches and ornate colonial buildings.  All around the central plaza are great cafes and places to eat while taking in the architecture.  We met up with Mike and two Kiwi´s for dinner (Dave tried pig´s belly soup - not nice) and then we went along to a folk music show, which was actually really good.  Although I was sat right next to the stage and was dragged up to dance at least 4 times!  Very embarrassing, as I haven´t a clue how to dance to Argentine folk music, and everyone else there did.  It was fun though, seeing proper tango dancing and the men stomping their feet to gaucho dancing.  Even Dave got dragged up on stage by the end of the night!

The next day we visited an art museum, and the cathedral, before the sky started turning black.  So we rushed into a random museum in the centre of town, only to find out it was an anthropological museum housing ´mummies´from the Inca period.  As the thunder and lightning started we looked around the amazingly preserved remains of three Inca children who were sacrificed on a nearby mountain summit (6030 m).  They were perfectly preserved as they had been dry frozen, (no ice crystals), so all their clothes, hair and skin were immaculate.  Amazing!  The best bit though was that we sheltered from the rain some more in the library and ended up chatting to the curator, who told us all sorts of new discoveries about the Inca and pre-inca civilizations.  He was so passionate about his job, that he even made me feel like becoming an archaeologist.

We caught the overnight bus to the border with Bolivia, and got no sleep at all, because they played a film called Blood-Match, not exactly family entertainment.  We got to the border bright and early, but very groggy, so after coffee and medialunas, we headed to the border crossing.  All quite straight forward fortunately.  What a difference when we walked the 20 feet across to Bolivia.  It was like arriving in a different world.   Villazon is really chaotic, everyone there wearing traditional clothes, and almost everything you can think of is sold at the market stalls.

We had heard bad things about Villazon, and saw no reason to stick around and went straight to the bus station. We got there just in time for the bus to Tupiza, so we loaded our bags and only then did Dave go to the loo.  Here the bus drivers wait for no man, and I had to stand outside the bus as they started to pull away, until Dave got back, just in time for us to both jump on board.

Tupiza, like much of northern Argentina and what we have seen in Bolivia is a town currently under construction. We stayed at a nice hotel, with a swimming pool!! Just what we needed. Here we organised to travel to Uyuni by 4day jeep tour through the national parks up to the salt flats.
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