A lifestyle blog bringing you fashion, music, food, and everything else that's just nice about Bristol and beyond!
I spent a good 3 weeks travelling across Bolivia. From Lake Titicaca down to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile we overnight bused it, nearly froze to death and ate some of the worst food in history across the place that will be forever known as ‘f**king Bolivia’. But was it worth it? Hells yes.
Beginning in La Paz, Bolivia’s underdevelopment in comparison to Peru and Chile is immediate, highlighted nicely to me by the Bolivian lady who greeted us from our 14 hour bus by lifting her skirt and weeing in the street. Lovely. And it became even more apparent when a few too many beers later that night I ended up racing taxis through the streets of La Paz to a hostel in god knows where. One crazy night later I moved swiftly on through Bolivia sustained solely by a diet of Coca Cola, Pringles and Snickers.
No exaggeration, the fruit and veg that you can buy outside of the main cities in Bolivia is non-existent. Bus after crazily driven bus took us across this surprisingly huge country to the back ass of nowhere and all we had for snacks were carbs and sugar, carbs and sugar and oh wait, some llama. It’s a blooming wonder we all didn’t get scurvy. And although my close friends will hear more about this on my return, the ‘diet’ completely obliterated my stomach, and sadly for me, not in the ‘oh look how much weight I’ve lost’ kind of way like my fellow travel buddies…grumble, bah humbug etc.
Driving through town after desert based town we finally landed in Sucre, the economic capital of Bolivia and the prettiest town we saw here. Known as the white city, Sucre has a really Spanish feel with a lovely local market, great views from the surrounding hills and a decent hostel which provided a good night’s drinking and dancing…at a Netherlands themed party randomly. The worlds biggest piece of steak at a locals only BBQ for a mere 40 bolivianos (about £3.50), rounded off the stay perfectly. Next stop, the ´Afghanistan of Bolivia´, Uyuni.
Even our arrival in Uyuni was eventful as we were unceremoniously kicked off the bus about 5km from the hostel and told to walk. See another thing you’re not told about until you get to Bolivia, is that the Bolivians love a blockade or two (or more precisely 400 annually). So we dragged our bags through the freezing temperatures (no joke, I literally gave myself 3rd degree burns on my bum trying to warm up in the shower afterwards – a ‘gringo jumper’ or two is seriously not enough for these temperatures) to what can only be described as a ghost town. But for one very special reason, to see the 12,000km squared beautiful Bolivian Salt Flats.
For me, the Salt Flats were something I really couldn’t wait to see and the next day our 4×4 trip began…..by getting stuck in the sand and being chased by a bunch of old locals trying to stop us getting past the blockade. But! When we finally made it, man was it worth the complete lack of health and safety. With a couple of petrol tanks sealed with rags strapped to our car, we headed into a sea of white cut off only by peaked volcanoes and the crisp blue sky. The flats appear never ending and after a seriously unsuccessful photo session, 3 days of road tripping up over 5000m above sea level and across breathtaking scenery unlike any other, Bolivia was really warming up to me…not literally of course, the minus 15 temperatures and lack of any heating saw to that. By day 4 we had made it across and the warmth of the Chilean sun on our faces was pure heaven.
Despite the monotonous scenery of much of Bolivia, the freezing temperatures, intense ruining of my bowels and I haven’t even mentioned the horrific altitude sickness which hit a few fellow travellers, the Salt Flats are a sight for sore eyes.
They are unbelievably stunning, making this country one of the most beautiful and special I’ve ever been to. Topped off by some of the best stargazing in the world, when the night is cool (fricking freezing) and the Milky Way is shining bright, you can’t help but leave with a big old soft spot for Bolivia and it’s quirky ways. I wouldn’t say I’ll be heading back any time soon, but a few shooting stars later, I certainly won’t be forgetting this incredible country or stop thinking of it fondly as anything other than f**king Boliva.