Bolivia - "niu countri"

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
Trip End Nov 04, 2008

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Where I stayed
Residencial Sucre - Bol 20 pp. Dont go! Its a dump!

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Thursday, March 13, 2008

We made it...and guess what, it was tougher on the Chilean side than on the Bolivian one. Up to now, Bolivia is great, different but great.

It is sufficient to say that the bus on the Bolivian side was much much better than the Chilean one. We really didnt think the old Chilean banger was going to make it across the Chilean frontier.

The first thing we will say is that broad band internet does not exist in Uyuni, reason why you will not see photographs until we get to a place that has sufficient speed. Thatīs a pitty as we have some great pictures of the trip and Uyuni.

Anyway, following with our story from last night at the Chilean frontier. We woke up this morning at 7am and jumped off the bus to move our tired muscles a bit. We were suprised to find the bus was parked next to the local "cafe", which was basically a room with a TV. The coffee (back to Nescafe) and the sandwich were great though and all for $800 pesos (1 euro) in the middle of nowhere.

During breakfast we met another foreigner travelling on the bus, this time French. During the trip last night we met an English teacher, and we have all stuck together since then to pass the frontier, find a hotel and book the Salar Flat tour.

Anyway, both the Chilean frontiers and the Bolivian ones were pretty simple stuff. It was just 40 of us on the bus, with only 4 foreigners so the it was all quick and smooth..stamp, stamp and next.

The only surprise was the request to pay 15 boliviarianos at the Bolivian frontier. We initially thought it was the typical "get money from tourists" trap, but everyone was paying it much to our relief. So either it is a new thing or its "get money from this bus" trap. In any case its 1 no great loss compared to the USD 100 that USA citizens have to pay there.

There was an incident in the Chilean frontier though (just to make the pass a bit dramatic). Apparently a mother had hidden 2 of her 3 children in the bus and tried to get through the frontier. The police and the driver found out at the Chilean frontier and there was a bit of a "kerfuffle" with the driver all upset as he was now responsible for the issue. The lady and her 3 kids were left at the Chilean frontier...where there is absolutely nothing. They had to wait until the bus returned to take them back to Calama - to the police.

Once we passed the Chilean frontier on the tatty bus that brought us from Calama, it took us along a few hundred metres more to "no mans land" where funnily enough there was a football pitch. 2 other buses were waiting there and we just had to take our luggage from one bus to the other. The new bus from Ollague to Uyuni was 40 boliviarianos (4 euros) for a 250 km ride and 4 hours of great scenery.

Once in Uyuni, which is a nice little town with a huge street market, we checked into our great hostel..."Residencial Sucre", which for 20 boliviarianos per person (2 euros) is the most basic place we have been to. It will be OK for one night, but we wont be back...

We teamed together with Valerie (French) and Mick (England) to book a 4 day tour around the Salt Flats of Uyuni, plus a volcano, geysers and many more things. We finally went for Blue Line tours which although more expensive seem to have everything well prepared. We also decided to pay a little extra and 4 on the vehicle (plus driver and cook).

The tour is going to be 1,000 kms on a 4x4 so we want the extra comfort. The whole thing will cost us 130 euro each, but that includes all the transport, meals, and accomodation including a salt hotel on the second day.

So given the above, we are afraid that there will be no more updates or pictures until at least next Monday when we hope to find a broader broad band...

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