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Report 1842: Let’s Go Someplace Like Bolivia...

By Eleanor from UK, Spring 2010

Trip Description: Trip report of three weeks in South America in April 2010, starting in San Pedro de Atacama and into Bolivia.

Destinations: Countries - South America

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 24: Butch Cassidy Has a lot to Answer for

photo by Michael

Going home from market

This has been a standing family joke for years. Bolivia was a bit like Timbuktu - everyone had heard of the place but it was virtually impossible to get to. Or so we thought. We were in San Pedro de Atacama in November 2008 and some of the tour companies were advertising a day tour to the Bolivian salt flats... That got us thinking. We loved the Atacama desert and Altiplano and this was just the excuse we needed to get back there. We got the guide books and started planning.

Bolivia is popular with backpackers as it is very cheap. Our days of ‘roughing it’ are long gone as we like clean sheets, comfortable bed and if possible en suite accommodation. A tourist infrastructure is beginning to appear.

We ruled out the Amazon Basin and places like Santa Cruz as they are low lying and humid. There are ‘bitey things’ which can spread nasty diseases like malaria or yellow fever.

San Pedro de Atacama was a good place to start as we could spend several days there as we began to acclimatise to the altitude before crossing into Bolivia. We would just concentrate on the high Plateau in Bolivia with the colonial towns of Potosi and Sucre before heading to La Paz and Lake Titicaca. We would fly home from Lima.

With a tentative itinerary drawn up we went to visit Audley Travel in Witney who we use for all our long trips. Bolivia the way we wanted to do it would not be cheap as we would have our own driver and guide throughout and the kind of hotels we would be stopping in would be expensive. Ideas of adding in time for Peru were rapidly discarded as we realised this would add another three to four weeks to the trip and would be eye wateringly expensive.

We came up with a final itinerary:

  • Fly to Santiago and to San Pedro de Atacama
  • From San Pedro de Atacama cross into Bolivia and drive across the Salar de Uyuni to Uyuni
  • Drive to Potosi
  • Drive to Sucre
  • Fly to La Paz
  • Hydrofoil across Lake Titicaca to Isla del Sol
  • Hydrofoil to Cochacabana. Bus to Puno
  • Fly Lima and back to UK

We asked to fly LAN via Madrid as their prices are cheaper than BA or Iberia and their cabin service is much better than Iberia.

Audley travel use local agents who provide drivers and guides. They used Protours Chile for the Chile part of the visit.

Protours used Azimut 360 for San Pedro de Atacama.

For Bolivia they used Crillon Tours. These are very much into the designer, eco-friendly market and have a virtual monopoly for Lake Titicaca and Isla del Sol tours. They are expensive.

We understand they used Candelaria Tours in Sucre to book the southern part of the trip.

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