Sunday, April 21, 2013

Amazing day trip from Tupiza

By 4:00 am we were both asleep in our comfortable hostel bed and awoke a few hours later, quite refreshed in time for the breakfast promised us with our reservation. The hostel is a converted hacienda and the breakfast room was a converted dining room. Although the breakfast was very sparse and unsatisfying in itself, the surroundings somehow made up for it. And we knew we were at the beginning of a great adventure, so stale bread and jam (and almost anything else) was just fine.

We spent the morning checking out the town and doing our research to find the best tour company for our four-day three-night excursion from Tupiza to Uyuni, through the Bolivian salar (Salt Flats). Our Belgian friends Janne and Sami, that we had met in Sucre, convinced us to start our excursion in Tupiza rather than in Uyuni and we were soon to learn that his was very good advice.

Aside from having a great time on our excursions from Tupiza, we also met incredible people which I will elaborate upon shortly.

After doing our usual Broudo “shopping around”, we decided to book with the tour company associated with our hostal (La Torre). In order to get the best deal, we also booked a day trip with them to explore the geological phenomena around Tupiza which was our first taste of what was to come on the days that followed.

When we boarded our vehicle for our day trip, we found that our tour guide/driver had brought his son with him. It was a school holiday so we were happy to have him with us. This young boy (we think he was maybe 8 years old) was an absolute sweetheart. Extremely well behaved and able to keep himself entertained throughout the entire trip with out being any trouble to anyone. He was thrilled to be out in nature with his dad and was climbing rocks and trees at every opportunity. The only “toy” he had with him was a bottle of water, which he converted into a sailboat whenever there was a puddle along the way. He had obviously done this trip with his dad many times and helped us find our way. This boy was full of joy. Having him along was a real gift.

Our guide Fidel and his son did not speak a word of English, but luckily for us, our companion on the trip — Peter, a retired man from Germany, spoke Spanish and English well and was able to translate between us and our guide and the other way around. Peter had been traveling around South America as we had for several months and we had lots to discuss and many experiences to share.

Peter was also an amazing addition to our trip. Full of energy and travel stories, he reminded us of our friend Bob that we met on our India trip. Peter has been traveling extensively since retiring and is the kind of person that really “experiences” each place he travels to. He is a chef by trade and finds a way to cook for people everywhere he goes. Each story he shared with us was full of local colour and local flavours as well.

As you can see, we had great companions for our day trip and the places we visited and the sights we had a chance to experience were as remarkable as the company.

Our guide took us through amazing sandstone formations and canyons along a meandering river. A hot lunch had been prepared for us which we ate under the shade of beautiful trees in an unbelievably gorgeous spot. There were cactus gardens in bloom along the way. And endless mountain “slices” seemingly growing out of the ground. Our cameras were clicking non-stop as we traveled through the area.

Although the town of Tupiza itself had little to offer, the surrounding area was proving to be extraordinary. And our excitement was mounting for the four days still ahead of us.

We arrived back in Tupiza in the late afternoon amazed and exhilarated by the scenery we had experienced and the good company we had shared the day with.

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