We really feel that maybe we didn't quite give Bolivia its due. By the time we made it to the country we were traveling much faster than our usual snail's pace. Driving hard to make it to Argentina in time to store the truck and catch a flight home. The altitude was high and the winds were strong. The days were cold and the nights were frigid. The officials were crooked and buying fuel was uncertain.
We enjoyed our time in Bolivia, but not as much as our friends tell us we should have. We're already considering circling back up to give 'er another try. The stunning landscapes, ample opportunity to explore for days without seeing a soul, and the Amazonas region we've left un-visited so far in our trip are calling us to detour back North. Just a bit.
Arrived in Country: May 24th, 2018
Left Country: May 31st, 2018
Miles Driven: 788 miles
Highest Elevation Visited: 16,500 feet
Campsites paid for: 0
1. Favorite town: Copacabana was our first town in Bolivia and one we thought we would just pass through, but we ended up spending the night there after a great lunch, an awesome horseback ride, and sundowners at roof top bar!
2. Favorite meal: The aforementioned great meal in Copacabana was at a little shop called “Baguette about it” run by a couple Argentinean guys who love making AWESOME sandwiches and serving delicious Bolivian craft beers!!
3. Most unexpected thing: How cold it was!! We dropped below freezing every night we were in Bolivia and hit our record low of 9 degrees on our last night of the Lagunas Route!
4. Favorite encounter: Meeting the young man who took us on the horseback ride. He had just started his business and after the ride he asked if we could help him start a Trip Advisor page. He barely knew how to use email and had never opened the internet tab on his phone, so we did our best to set it up and hopefully it’ll work for him because he did a great job for us!
5. Favorite Local Beer: I had a Stier Summer Ale while at the sandwich shop and it was seriously the best craft brew I’ve had of the whole trip. We almost detoured to Cochabamba where it was made just to check out the Cervezeria! Fun fact, the Brewery is run by a Chilean, German, and French man that all followed their local wives to this town.
6. Favorite drive: Driving around the salt flats was pretty epic!
7. Favorite campsite: Definitely our night on the salt flats. I got up at 1am to pee and the full moon was lighting up the salt the way it would fresh snow. It was practically glowing. Such a cool spot!
8. Most frustrating thing: After the people of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, the Bolivian hospitality was a bit of a shock. I had several encounters where I tried to buy something from a woman selling food or vegetables on the street and she looked at me like I was CRAZY for wanting to buy what she was selling…
9. Favorite experience: Most of my favorites for Bolivia came from seeing KP get so excited to visit some of the most iconic Overland spots of our trip. It takes a lot to get him excited and he was positively giddy for most of the time we were in Bolivia
10. Best thing about the country: For a small country, it has some of the most iconic locations that Overlanders can hope for. I mean the Salar de Uyuni, the Dakar sign, the Train Graveyard, and The Lagunas Route, come on, these are epic spots that we have dreamed for years about visiting!!!
Favorite Picture: After spending 5 hours taking terrible pictures on the Salar, we opened a bottle of wine and just hung out, talking and brainstorming future plans. It was great!
1. Favorite town: Uyuni. A small outpost on the edge of the country, Uyuni has been in my dreams for years. It was a pretty pleasant little town, and we found good burgers and friendly people. Even if I did back into a concrete pole.
Oh, and we got to camp in a train graveyard.
2. Favorite meal: Did Taylor already use the one from the café on our first day? Well, yeah, still that one. It was epic.
3. Most unexpected thing: Great gas mileage! Seriously, I’m pretty sure that Bolivia doesn’t use any ethanol in their fuel. Our truck was one happy camper, averaging over 12mpg, even at 12k feet of elevation.
4. Favorite encounter: We irresponsibly shared a (tiny) bit of our lunch with a very coyote-like, and very sweet, paramo fox near the Arbol del Piedra along the Lagunas Route. We named him Alex.
5. Favorite local beer: Oh man. We weren’t in the country long enough to develop a favorite, but Bolivia’s brewing scene was on point. We had some truly great microbrews right after crossing the border and they do some pleasantly interesting things with quinoa.
6. Favorite drive: Clearly the Lagunas Route for me. Although it wasn’t exactly what I’d dreamed in my pre-pubescent years, the boric acid plant aduana and ultimate ribbon of Chilean pavement are two highlights of the entire trip for me.
7. Favorite campsite: Our first campsite in the country was in the hills just above Copacabana. I’d lost my water bottle on our horseback ride and chose to simply setup camp after looking for it. We didn’t find the bottle, but we did find a great view over the city and the bay and a nice quiet night’s sleep.
8. Most frustrating thing: In Bolivia, it’s illegal to sell fuel to foreigners at the local, subsidized price. Station owners are supposed to sell fuel to us at a much higher rate, and then document the transaction. The documentation is difficult, and the foreigner price is much higher than the local rate, so the most common solution is to find a station owner who doesn’t want to do the paperwork, but does want a little extra pocket money. After a little negotiating they’ll agree to sell you gasoline for somewhere between the two rates, taking the extra for themselves. I don’t mind that part, but it’s not uncommon to have stations refuse to sell fuel flat out. It never happened to us, but we require a lot of fuel and Bolivia is a pretty remote country. The uncertainty added a bit of extra stress to our daily routine.
9. Favorite experience: Simply sitting and chatting, just the two of us and a bottle of wine, watching the sun set over the epic Salar de Uyuni.
10. Best thing about the country: The whole country is pretty remote and un-populated outside major cities. Free camping was probably the easiest of our whole trip to date and each place was secluded, and beautiful.
Favorite picture: Ok, I'm not really sure if it's my favorite picture or not. There were seriously just too many great ones from Bolivia. It's a breathtakingly beautiful country. Even though this one's of a toilet, it's still pretty great. :)