Our next stop was to head further south to the town of Tupiza which is in the center of Bolivia´s most spectacular countryside. The city lies in the valley of the Rio Tupiza, surrounded by the rugged Cordillera de Chichas.
The trip down there from Uuyni was our first experience of Boliva´s coaches! We had heard a lot of bad things about them from fellow travellers…all of which transpired to be true! What was only a 200Km distance to travel took over 7 hours along what I can only describe as bumpy dirt tracks; they do not deserve to be called roads!
We had taken the first two seats which we were told had the most space (obviously a lie!). The best and worst thing with this position was the fact that you could see everything! We did see some amazing scenery which the pictures just don’t do justice (hence why I have left them out) which was great. However, the worse moment was traveling down a steep path around a particular mountain that required the driver to stop within millimeters of the cliff edged to reverse back to attempt to make it around the bend….this is by far the most scary situation we have been in so far…we really thought it was the end and began making plans of how we could smash the window to jump out!
Apart from the awe-inspiring scenery in the surrounding area, it is also famous for being the place where the legendary bandits Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid pulled off their last robbery which subsequently resulted in their death in the town of San Vicente. I always remembered watching old westerns with my Dad, particularly the 1969 classic with Paul Newman and Robert Redford and so had to sample the cowboy life for myself.
We spent two days on horseback covering the south of the region which was without doubt a highlight of the trip so far.
Our guide was a 16-year-old local called Louis who was breaking in a young 3-year-old horse who would at times go completely out of control and upset our two horses. After the fist couple of hours we were complete pro´s galloping and racing with each other which is one of the best highs I have ever had.
As with mos tof our treks, we also got caught in a storm since it’s the beginning of the rainy season in Bolivia. It was actually one of the highlights of the trips since we saw some of the most amazing scenery with the storm approaching and the lightning striking the surrounding mountains. unfortunately the pictures just don´t do the experience juctice…sorry Andre but its true!
Our overnight stop was in a really small village called Espicaya which was effectively a series of mud houses and farms set within the most breathtaking valley. The town really is living life as they probably would have 200 years ago and was an amazing experience.
The one thing that has clearly changed is the towns love for football! We arrived in the middle of the first half of a girls football match which the entire village was out watching.
I have to admit after the 14 hours worth or riding I was feeling pretty sore and did in fact get blisters in-between my cheeks from all the rubbing. I do have a picture of it but its far too graphic to on here!
Andre equally got injured by passing through the thorns.
Before you think it there was no funny ´Brokeback mountain´ business going on…with no showers and running water that was the last thing on our minds! plus have a look at how the Bolivians cater for a man the size of Andre!
The town of Tupiza itself which was our base is a pleasant town with great markets where you can eat really cheap and tasty food…although in Bolivia you never really know what meat you are eating!
The have great drinks here as well which they serve in a plastic bag…before you think it it’s not piss and a turd in a bag! it’s some form of Lychee 🙂
For those of you wo know him, I also had the most bizarre encounter with Ben Potter who I used to work with at Legg Mason about 3 years ago! He just happened to be in the room next door with his lovely wife Anna.