Table of contents for Bolivia
- A trip to Bolivia – Part 1
- A Trip to Bolivia – Part 2
My husband Abhiram and I decided to go on a vacation to Bolivia. I have shared our experience. which might help you if you are travelling to Bolivia? I have shared a few photographs of our trip. Facts about a place are always available on the internet.
Why we decided to go to Bolivia?
Both Abhi and I are academically inclined – we like science and history and exploring new places. We have already been to typical tourist places – amusement parks, casinos, beaches and the like. We wanted something different, something that would be a learning experience. We chose South America because we have always wanted to see many places there. We decided to explore only one country this time because neither of us had been to South America before and thus had no idea what to expect. An email forward had gotten us fascinated by the Salar De Uyuni. We had read a lot about it. During the reading, we also explored the map of the Amazon basin. A part of the rain forest was in Bolivia. So we decided to do both the Salar and the Bolivian Amazon.
How we planned our trip?
We planned our trip in three parts.
Part 1 – La Paz sightseeing, Lake Titicaca
Part 2 – Uyuni
Part 3 – Bolivian Amazon basin
The internet has a lot of information. A number of package tours are available. But we wanted to be on our own. So, after a lot of surfing on the internet, we came across a site – boliviatravelsite. This site has information on tourist locations, hotels, transportation, package tours etc. We planned our trip in Bolivia based on information from this site. For the amazon basin, the best place to look at is National Geographic. We found that Chalalan Eco lodge was one of the best. It is owned and managed by an indigenous community – San Jose De Uchupiomonas.
Knowing/ Learning Spanish is very helpful. It would be cool to have a Spanish translator on your phone.
You can get visa upon arrival in Bolivia. Make sure you’re to and fro flights have no connecting flights in nearby countries. You will not be allowed to board the flights without visas.
Where did we go in Bolivia?
I have tried my best to give a day to day experience of our trip. We took a flight from Miami, Florida to La Paz, Bolivia. It was a 10 hour direct flight. Upon landing in La Paz, we realized that it was situated at a high altitude. My husband even found breathing a little difficult. It is always good to get acclimatized to a place. Hence we decided to spend a day in La Paz. We stayed at Hotel Rosario. This hotel is built in colonial style and offer continental breakfast. Their menu includes vegetarian options.
Day 1 – La Paz City
If you are someone who travels with an academic curiosity to get the feel of another country and learn about its people and culture, then La Paz sight-seeing will definitely be good. We visited the government buildings, the Plaza Murillo, the museums and the colonial streets. Next we headed to the witches market. The witches market is a must. It is a street filled with shops full of mystical artifacts. Every shop is owned by a witch. They sell small objects that are believed to bring luck, happiness, and success in your life. There are some respected people called Yaitiri. They read cocoa leaves and tell us our future. They are somewhat similar to tarot card readers. We asked a Yaitiri to tell us our future. It was fun :-). Next we headed to the Moon valley. If you have seen the Grand Canyon, then you may not find moon valley fascinating. The moon valley is somewhat similar to the Grand Canyon. Differently shaped soil. It felt like we were on a different planet. The moon valley is a little outside the city. It is about 1.5 hours’ drive on winding roads. With that we ended our first day of sight-seeing.
Day 2 – Lake Titicaca, Copacabana and Inca Ruins
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. We left our hotel early morning around 7.30am since it as a long way to Lake Titicaca. We went by road for about an hour and then by boat for half an hour. We traveled again by road to the small island of Copacabana. We visited the church. From there, we went to the Inca ruins again another hour by boat. Lake Titicaca is breathtaking. The forget-me-not blue waters make you feel you are in paradise. I was so assured that nothing else in this world can be as beautiful as the lake. There is something so mystical about the lake. We reached the island of the Incas. We climbed through the stairs and looked at the Andes, the Sun Island and also the stone structures that the Incas built for the Gods. To the Incas, the lake is very auspicious and sacred. Carry a few energy bars, cookies, biscuits, chocolate bars etc. (especially if you are vegetarian/vegan) since it is a long trip and finding vegetarian food on Copacabana is difficult.
With this we finished the first part of our trip.
Day 3 – Salar De Uyuni, Uyuni
We left La Paz to head to Uyuni. We took a flight from La Paz to Uyuni which was about 45 minutes. Only Amazonas provides this flight to Uyuni. It was a very small plane which could carry only 10 people. We got our first look of the Salar from the flight.
Uyuni is a very small town with basic facilities. Internet and telephone are available at a few places. Do not expect hotels to provide you with wireless. If you have gone on bag packing hikes or trips, you will be very happy with the facilities. If you are used to 5 star hotels and expect the same, maybe Uyuni is not for you! To get to Uyuni from La Paz, you can take the bus or the flight. We travelled by flight since it saves time and are also less strenuous. We heard from some European travelers that they had a hard time travelling by bus to Uyuni since the roads were bad.
We stayed one night at Hotel Cristal Samanaa – hotel made entirely of Salt. – The walls, the floors, even the bed is made of salt!
The staff at the hotels is extremely friendly and helpful. Being vegetarians, we had a tough time with food. You get bored with bread after a while. We had carried Maggi and MTR foods. The staff let us use the kitchen and cook. Carrying Sunglasses is a must, especially in the Salar. Warm clothing will help a lot.
After settling in, we visited the Salar and the Inchuasi Island. Salar de Uyuni – the salt desert of Uyuni – is, as the name suggests, a desert of salt. Yes! A DESERT OF SALT! What makes it even more awesome is that it is entirely flat (some people also call it the salt flats). Another thing that is wonderful about it is that it becomes a mirror when it has a thin layer of water over it. We aren’t that widely travelled, but we can guarantee that the Salar is one of the most breathtaking places on earth. We saw giant cacti at the Inchuasi Island. My husband’s height was 1/10th of the height if a cactus!
There are two seasons when you can visit the Salar. It is beautiful and breathe taking both times.
1) When it is filled with water, although you may not be able to go to the Inchuasi Island. (Nov to Feb)
2) When it is dry. (May to October)
This time, we decided to go when it was dry since we planned to visit the Amazon basin too. Hopefully, we will be able to go to the Salar when it is filled with water :-)
More in the next and concluding part. Hope Ghumakkars like my first attempt here.