As I mentioned in my blog about my trip to Mendoza, traveling here can be difficult. Many South American countries make United States citizens pay an entrance fee and some even require a visa. That and price of a bus if there’s time or a plane can make spring break pretty expensive.
For my fall or spring break (it’s spring here) I went to Bolivia. Most of the students here chose to go to Patagonia but my friend Simon and I chose to go to take a plane to Bolivia. There was another group of three who also went to Bolivia but because they had trouble buying plane tickets (they paid the Argentine price instead of a foreigner price which is more expensive) they ended up taking a bus. Although this saves money, it takes a long time and makes going to the north of Bolivia impossible.
Bolivia requires both an entrance fee and a visa. The visa process is pretty simple, just show up with the few things they ask for and two days later the visa will be ready. The strange thing is that in order to pay the entrance fee the Bolivian consulate sends you to a bank that is not all that close and makes you deposit the money into an account. You then have to return to the consulate to bring them your receipt.
My friend Simon and I decided to fly into La Paz. We couldn’t get a direct flight and had a short layover in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba. Getting into Bolivia was fairly easy. Customs rushed us along because some people who were flying to La Paz had tight connections. I simply had to fill out a form and show passport. While there we got some Bolivianos out of the ATM and waited for our flight. Once in La Paz I collected my bag (which was apparently on an earlier flight to La Paz) and got into the cab that was waiting to take us to our hostel. Our hostel was a nice one with private rooms. It was more like a hotel than a hostel. We spoke Spanish to all of the employees.
We arrived at night and went straight to bed. The next day we bought warm clothes in order to make sure we were warm for the cold nights in the south of Bolivia. Things were pretty cheap and my friend snagged a North Face (or so it said, he claims it was warm) for the equivalent of about forty dollars. We explored the city as well. The next day we had to take a bus to Tupiza which is in the South of Bolivia. The bus wasn’t the nicest as it didn’t have a working bathroom and only stopped once for a bathroom break for the entire fifteen hour ride. It didn’t serve dinner but the bus did stop for dinner. We arrived in Tupiza at 4 am and found a hostel to stay in for a few hours.
At 8:30 the next morning our 4 day jeep tour from Tupiza to Uyuni began. The tour was amazing. We went through the mountains and saw many lagoons and flamingos. Even though it was pretty cold out (I had on 3 layers of pants and many layers of shirts, sweaters, and jackets) we made new friends and saw some great sights. It ended in the salt flats where we got to take pictures with the sunrise, and take pictures where we sometimes looked incredibly small.
After the tour we took an overnight bus back to La Paz. It was a much nicer bus with heating and blankets. We arrived at around five in the morning, and the hostel where we stayed the first time let us sleep on their couch in the basement and eat breakfast until our tour of Lake Titicaca started a 7:30 am.
We had a private tour where the bus drove us into Copacabana and then we took a ferry to Isla Del Sol in Lake Titicaca. Our hostel was very high up and the climb was tough but the view was spectacular. Next there was a tour of the ruins and we watched the sunset. The next day we took a ferry back to Copacabana and explored the city for a little bit and then took a bus back to La Paz. That bus is only 3 hours so it’s not too bad.
We stayed in a dorm style party hostel for the last night in order to save some money and make it easier for my friend Simon to make friends since he was staying one day longer than I was. I left for Buenos Aires early in the morning. Customs getting out of Bolivia wasn’t as easy as getting in but I made it through. I took a bus from the airport to the city and from there they drove me to my homestay.
I recommend Bolivia as a break destination. It is a lot different than the city of Buenos Aires and there are many fun things to do and beautiful things to see.