From all the countries we visited in South America, Bolivia has the lowest number of tourists visiting. And even though we only spent 10 days in this beautiful country, we got the feeling, that it is underappreciated. The Salar de Uyuni and the region around it is one of the must stunning places we have been to on this continent. So if you ever travel to one of the countries around Bolivia, take a few days and visit this place.
Sucre is the capital of Bolivia, but La Paz is the seat of the government. It lies between 3000 and 4000 meters above sea level is therefore known for its steep hills and the mountains surrounding it. As traffic is a huge problem, the city was very innovative in the last five years and built a cable car system to strategically connect the all parts of the city. The gondola net is built as public transport and not with tourists in mind. However, we couldn’t resist and took a tour through all the parts of the city with the amazing, through the sky “metro” of La Paz.
Potosí – Mines
In Potosi, we visit active silver mines. Sadly, the mineral extraction process in the mountain behind the city has barely changed in the last few hundred years. More about the mines.
Apart from primitive explosives, everything is done by hand. The miners run in and out of the mines with small wagons on rails. The loaded wagons weigh more than a tonne and have no breaks. The tunnels are not tall enough to stand and not wide enough to escape the approaching wagons. As I’m almost one feet taller than the average miner, I struggle in these tunnels. 700 meters into the mountain, I’m done. I want to go back out and escape the dark, humid and frankly dangerous mine.
Back under the open sky, I can only feel sad for the workers here. It is one thing to know, that some people have to work under horrible working conditions. To see it with your own eyes, is another story. It’s Friday morning and the miners end their ten hour shift. They worked all night and offer us a beer, which we cannot refuse. The workers pour half the beer on the ground – for Pachamama. We laugh together for a while and then we leave. Still feeling sad.
Salar de Uyuni – 3-day-tour
The Salar de Uyuni “tricky pictures” are well known among Bolivia travellers. However, the 3-day-tour through the salt flats is far more than just a funny picture on a flat, white surface. Beautiful sunsets, cacti islands, volcano landscapes, hundreds of flamingos in red lakes, steamy geysers and hot springs under starry skies. This place should be on your bucket list.