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Trip Report Trip Report..Bolivia (Titikaka, La Paz, Uyuni, Potosi, Sucre) Nov. 2011

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This report will neither be as entertaining nor as detailed as many here on Fodor's. But I hope that this report encourages others to cough up the visa fee and visit a fascinating and affordable S. American country.

Bolivia has appealed as a travel destination for as long as I can remember. It has that exotic sound, people tend to go "Oh MY" when they hear that you've been. During prior trips to Peru I heard glowing reports from other travelers. I love mountain and desert landscapes, artesania, local foods, cities and photography. Bolivia is a great bargain and therefore caters to my love of value for money, i.e. basic cheapness. Plus it is a good place to try out your "immersion" Spanish.

I used Frequent Flyer miles from LAX to Peru (only 35K r/t but that is another tale). I had previously been to Cusco et al, but never to Arequipa, Colca Canyon or Puno. As November is the start of the rainy season, and travel into Bolivia is never certain, I decided to reserve nothing other than a few nights in La Paz at Hotel Rosario, and to book the rest on the go. Two weeks were blocked out starting from Puno on Thanksgiving day. All of the rates quoted are for one person, other than the hotel in Potosi.

My routing was as follows

Puno (Hotel Qelqatani/ or Posada Don Giorgio, ) USD$37 per night.

Catamaran Transturin Day Tour (Puno to Copacabana to Isla del Sol to La Paz) USD$215 + taxes (Booked through Leon Tours in Puno)

La Paz 4 nights Hotel Rosario ($68 per night) & Hotel Berlina, 250 Bs ($36). I had to add nights in La Paz due to blockades, which also caused me to fly to Uyuni.
Taxi to airport arranged by hotel, 60 Bs. Flight La Paz to Uyuni on Amaszonas, booked online from La Paz $127 including taxes. The agent inside Rosario wanted $200 to book the exact same flight.

Salar de Uyuni standard tour 3Day/2 Nights in Toyota Landcruiser based on 6 passengers. Booked off the street in Uyuni on arrival, with Blue Line Service, Acceptable in the spirit of adventure, one could do far worse. 700 Bs ($100) including transport, shared basic lodging, 7 meals. Does not include admissions to Fish Island (30 Bs) and Eduardo Avaroa (150 Bs). FANTASTIC and for me the flamingos on Laguna Colorada were the highlight of my trip.

Uyuni to Potosí Bus from Hell (TransEmperador) 40 Bs DO NOT TAKE A NIGHT BUS. See separate report. Blue Line sold me a voucher and made a phone reservation for 40 Bs. In Potosi, A taxi is needed from the new bus station to central Potosí.

Potosí, 1 night, Hostal Cerro Rico Velasco. Quiet, great hot water, soft beds, good breakfast. Uphill from the center near a nice supermarket. Friendly staff. Triple Room was 450 Bs. No elevator. Recommended if you are okay with soft beds. We followed a Gecko tour group here, lucky they had a room. Book by email or telephone. In retrospect I would have added another night in Potosí .

Potosí to Sucre Afternoon Bus. Many choices,17 Bs. Allow time to get from hotel to the Potosí bus station out of town.

Sucre, 4 nights. Hostal de Su Merced. Highly Recommended. Rooms vary, ask to see a few if you have a choice I had #8. Quoted at 300 Bs per night, seem to be discounts (low season and booked direct, probably).

Tourist bus to Tarabuco from the Plaza de Armas is 35 Bs R/T ie, $5.

Aerosur flight Sucre to La Paz airport, booked using Teresita’s Tours (Sucre) for 553 Bs. It was cheaper than t online. TAM and BoA were both sold out.

Van shuttle from the La Paz El Alto airport to Plaza San Francisco for 7 Bs.

La Paz 1 night Hotel Berlina

La Paz to Puno via Copacabana and Tiquina crossing was 60 Bs. Diana uses Tour Peru for the Copacabana to Puno. I would recommend booking only to Copacabana and then arranging the Peruvian bus when you are there, or looking for another company. You leave at 8am, have at least an hour layover, and arrive in the afternoon at the Puno central bus station.

The photos
L. Titicaca
Salar de Uyuni
La Paz, Potosi, Sucre

More to come....

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