From the border of Peru we head to lake Titicaca, and then to the little town of Sorata. We spend a day in La Paz looking for gas before driving east again to the world's most dangerous road. From there we hit the towns of Sucre and Potosi before setting out to spend a few nights in Uyuni's salt flats.
Below you’ll find updates of places we’re visiting and our usual cheeky shenanigans. Also, we’ll try to add useful information about our budget, internet availability, border crossings and where to buy gas.
Buying gas in Bolivia is not only a joke, it's a pain in the butt. Recently Bolivia introduced a gas price for foreign vehicles at about 3 times the local subsidized price to keep neighboring countries from buying cheap gas and going home.
Selling gas to a foreigner involves a lot of paperwork for the attendants which in turn leads to some ridiculous excuses to from lazy attendants.
Here are some common excuses we heard over the 3 weeks spent looking for gas in Bolivia.
This article is part of our Internet and Phone Report series.
General availability: Medium
Quality of bandwidth: Low
Frequency of internet in campgrounds: Medium
Frequency of internet in hotels: Medium-High
We spent four weeks in Bolivia and visited the following areas: Copacabana, Sorata, Coroico, La Paz, Oruru, Potosi, Sucre, Uyuni, the Salar, the Southwest circuit. We did not visit the Amazon or Santa Cruz.
Internet availability is average. Most hostels have wifi and there will certainly be a café in every town. Campsites will never have it, unless they are associated with a hotel or hostel.
Internet in Uyuni is painful at best, and there is no such thing as wifi. Forget about using your own computer. Most cafes in town run on USB modems from Entel.
This article is part of our Budget and Money Report series.
Our per diem expenses cover food, lodging, gas and other supplies and travel costs for three people. We travel in a 1997 Toyota 4Runner, tent camp in paid facilities roughly 70% of our nights and eat less than 10% of our meals in restaurants. This budget does not reflect personal spending money, which is mostly used to buy souvenirs and booze. We don't track this money, but we do know we have not come close to spending our budgeted amount of $10 per person per day.
As we'd been informed by other travelers, Bolivia proved to be the cheapest country to date. Even though we entered the country in need of supplies, and have heard mixed reports about the cost of gas, we managed to break even. In fact, we managed to miss our budget by only $0.25 per day.
Even though Bolivia was cheap, it was still a mixed bag in terms of prices. We paid between $0.50 and $1.50 per liter for gas, and $9 and $40 for a hotel room. Food was consistently cheap, we ate out plenty of times, but what kept us on budget in the end were the three nights we camped for free between Uyuni and the Chilean border.
Start: October 26, Uyuni, Bolivia
Finish: October 29, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Highest Altitude Camped At: 15,600 Feet
Overnight Low: 22F
Flamingo Species Seen: 3
Colors of Lakes Photographed: Blue, Green, White and Red
There haven't been too many times on this trip where we've felt that we've been really out there. The Corcovado jungle in Costa Rica definitely rings a bell, maybe hiking the narrows in Zion National Park, or our recent overnight visit to the Uyuni Salt Flats.
One thing is certain, we've never had to carry gas on our roof to get where we've needed to go, and we've never spent more than 48 hours without our wheels touching asphalt. Maybe we've been doing it wrong, or maybe we just had our our biggest adventure yet.
There are no medical facilities or mechanics; no ready-made food or comfy hotels in this part of the world. Bolivia's southwest circuit is raw, unadulterated adventure at incredibly high elevations that a single traveler pays hundreds of dollars to experience. The three of us spent a total of $65 to enter the park, $50 on gas, $30 on food and $25 on alcohol. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: this is why we overland.
Start: October 24, Uyuni
Finish: October 26, Uyuni
Miles Driven on Salt: 120
Goofy Pictures Taken: 147
Godzilla Attacks: 3
Bottles of Rum That Are Always Gone: 2
The Salar de Uyuni is the world's largest salt flat, covering an area of over 4,000 square miles. At almost 12,000 feet, it's a bleek, desolate and absolutely beautiful place to do a bit of off-road driving.
It also happens to be one of the few places where it's possible to to take ridiculously out-of-perspective photos without the help of a green screen or photoshop. And we promise that neither of those were used in the making of this blog post...
Start: October 15, Sorata
Finish: October 23, Uyuni
Death Roads Survived: 1
Fluffy Things Made From Alpaca Bought By Jessica: 3
Bolivian Capitol Cities Camped In: 2
Likelihood of Kobus Ever Wanting to Drive in La Paz Again: Nada
This week we pass through both of Bolivia's capital cities. La Paz, the administrative center and highest capital city in the world, and Sucre, Bolivia's judicial and cultural capital and certainly the most beautiful and welcoming city in Bolivia. In between, we stop over in the towns of Oruro and Potosi, mining towns that are attempting to retain some of their previous golories, with limited success.
The highlights of our week were finding a fantastic campsite in the town of Coroico and driving the death road connecting Coroico to La Paz, proclaimed by many to be the most dangerous road in the world.
This article is part of our Border Crossing Report series.
Border name: Yunguyo
Closest major cities: Puno, Peru and Copacabana, Bolivia
Cost for Visas: USD$135 for US citizens, Bs360 (USD$51) for South Africans
Cost for vehicle: $0
Total time: 1 hour
Date crossed: Friday October 5, 2012
Start: October 6, Copacabana, Bolivia
Finish: October 14, Sorata
Borders Crossed Thus Far: 12
Hours Spent Traveling 30 Miles on Lake Titicaca in a 500HP Boat: 4
Number of Beavis and Butthead References Suppressed: All but one
Inches Blue's Ass Got Lifted: 3
Delicious Things Baked in Wood-Fire Oven: 5
Into Bolivia, another country we know little about, but have gained high expectations of in the past few months. Bolivia is our 13th country so far, and we paid more to cross a border than any other country. Then promptly spent several days doing next-to-nothing on the shores of the world's highest "navigable" lake.
Bolivia is likely the cheapest country we've been to on this trip, with Nicaragua coming in a close second. Gas hassles and visa costs aside, it may prove to be the best country for overlanding in the Americas.