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lots of questions!

Chicago, Illinois
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lots of questions!

Hi all,

First time planning for a trip to Bolivia for July. I just started planning, need to book flights ASAP... have about 2 weeks, I know it's not much time. My major must-see is Uyuni, am flexible on other things.

I'm thinking:

Day 1: Fly into Santa Cruz, fly onto Sucre

Day 2: Sucre

Day 3; bus Sucre - Potosi

Day 4: Potosi

Day 5: bus Potosi - Uyuni

Days 6-9: Uyuni Tour, bus to La Paz

Days 10-11 (12?): La Paz + Tiwanaku

Day 12/13: bus to Puno

I'm then planning to spend a few days in Puno for work reasons and then heading up to Cusco for hike potentially.

1. Does this seem feasible with timing? I know I need to leave some days open for the who-knows-what-scenario. Planning to leave extra room in Puno also that can be eaten up by Bolivia or used in Cusco later as needed.

2. I went this route in hopes of helping with acclimatizing... I have been to Cusco with zero altitude problems in the past, but wasn't sure about starting in La Paz. Also, seems like flights are cheaper into Santa Cruz.

3. Has anyone done the missions tour around Santa Cruz? Is this "worth" a stop there for a day or two?

4. What I can expect in terms of prices for hotels/hostales and food? What about bus prices?

5. Can anyone recommend specific safer bus companies for those routes?

6. Also, I don't think I'm interested in the mine tour in Potosi unless someone wants to talk me into it... Is Potosi "worth" a stop anyway or should I head straight from Sucre to Uyuni in that case? I know it's about a 9-hr ride then.

Sorry, lots of questions! I know I'm missing a lot of Bolivia -- other suggestions are appreciated, just need to stick within that timeframe somewhat. Thanks in advance!

Edmonton, Canada
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1. Re: lots of questions!

Lots of questions but no answers.

We found Potosi had much more to see than Sucre so would not miss it. We did the mine tour (more interesting than we thought) and there are also two excellent museums in Potosi as well as all the other old colonial buildings.

We didn't go to Santa Cruz because it didn't seem worth it. Flew directly into La Paz (no altitude problems at all unlike Cuzco--but that was most likely all the pisco sours the night before). A full day tour of La Paz was long enough for us. Tiwanaku was also about an 8 hour day tour from La Paz.

Costs really depend on how you travel. We had private transport and didn't use a bus at all. Stayed in 4* and ate in nice restaurants when it was possible.

Hopefully this will get someone else going on your topic.

california
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2. Re: lots of questions!

La Paz is in a canyon so not as high as the airport, so if you did ok in Cusco it might be just as well to fly to LP and just take it easy for a few days. I think this may prepare you better for the high altitudes in Potosi and the last night of the Uyuni tour. Bolivia is inexpensive except for flights. You can do easily on $50 a day food lodging and local travel.

I liked Potosi as much as Sucre if not more.

Edited: 30 May 2012, 07:18
Chicago, Illinois
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3. Re: lots of questions!

Thanks for your replies. I ended up getting ticket with Copa and so am flying into Santa Cruz and will fly straight on to Sucre the next morning. I left more time there open right now, either for a hike around Sucre, or maybe for more time in Potosi as you've suggested. Where did you stay in Potosi?

Will end in La Paz and then cross over to Puno after a couple of days, still trying to get that sorted out time -wise but I know I can probably book when I get there, or get to Copacabana...

california
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4. Re: lots of questions!

In Potosi I stayed at Hostal Cerro Rico Velasco. Quiet, great hot water, soft beds, good breakfast. Uphill from the center near a nice supermarket. Friendly staff. It isn't that far to walk into town. Enjoy Bolivia!

boliviaentusmanos.com/amarillas/businesscard…

Edited: 30 May 2012, 18:34
Toronto, Canada
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5. Re: lots of questions!

Got to agree- Potosi was much more interesting than Sucre. Sucre is mostly catered to university students and spanish language students- lots of "to cool for school", bars and restaurants.

We could have lived without it.

We did a bit of the same route- although we got our butts kicked from altitude when we did get to La Paz.

Only suggestion I might have is grab a bus/ boat transfer from Lake Titicaca to Puno. It was one of our favorite spots- and easy to travel out of.

AJ

Sydney, Australia
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6. Re: lots of questions!

Wow, can't believe the negative posts about Sucre and people preferring Potosi. I'm an Australian now living in La Paz, have been in Bolivia for a total of 9 months and have been to both Sucre and Potosi numerous times. I work in tourism and every traveller I have met has fallen in love with Sucre and stayed far longer than planned. It is one of my two personal favourite cities in Bolivia along with Tarija and offers far more to do than Potosi. In my personal opinion, if you aren't planning on doing the mine tour (which I would definately recommend doing if you want an interesting experience) then I'd skip straight though Potosi all together. Having been there 3 times with various tourists, we've all found the city depressing with not much to do and some of the worst food in Bolivia.

As for the comments about comparing altitude in Cusco to La Paz, Cusco is 3400masl where La Paz is 3600masl in the tourist end of town and over 4000masl in El Alto where the airport is. If travelling to Uyuni first, you should have no issues.

If you want a good bus company (although I'm not sure they're running your route), El Dorado are my favourite. A modern fleet of buses with cama suite options and toilets on board. Can be a novelty to get those luxuries on many routes in Bolivia. Prepare for long bus journeys with no bathrooms and normal or semi cama options on most routes. Bring plenty of loo paper everywhere you go in Bolivia. Might just save your life :)

Trans Copacabana are often recommended by the locals, Bolivar are ok and Trans Dilrey is the best, most efficient company running the Sucre to Potosi route.

Enjoy your time here, it's a beautiful country no matter where you end up filled with friendly people who are always happy to help if you speak a little Spanish.

Edited: 09 June 2012, 19:39
London, United...
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7. Re: lots of questions!

I must admit I find it quite strange as Potosi had a very dilapidated feel. The square in Potosi was very impressive but the rest of it a a run down feeling to it. The mine tour was great though- really different to anything I've ever done.

Sucre had the feel of a Spanish town, whitewashed houses and lots of lovely cafes and bars. Potosi was much more gritty and had the feel of a wild west mining town.

Also we had the enjoyment of a group of 3 blokes trying to steal out passports in Potosi! It was such a bungled attempt my girlfriend almost gave them our passports out of sympathy. She's only 5 foot 3 but she could have fought them off, they were that small! I grabbed one by the throat and carefully explained to him that he'd better run away (in faltering Spanish!) before my girlfriend got angry!

Edmonton, Canada
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8. Re: lots of questions!

Ah but that's just it. We didn't go to Bolivia for whitewashed houses, restaurants and bars. There are dozens of towns throughout Central and South America like that, but there are none like Potosi. We preferred the gritty wild west feel because it was something different.

London, United...
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9. Re: lots of questions!

There are loads of run down towns/cities in Central and South America, so we missed the whitewashed towns like Sucre. San Pedro de Sula in Honduras, Managua, Tegulchigulpa, Colon and even Nicocli in Colombia... Just to name a few dirty, wild west type places.

I can't think of too many places like Sucre off the top of my head.

Still, it's all about opinions, beentheredonethat... All about opinions :-)

Chicago, Illinois
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10. Re: lots of questions!

Thanks for everyone's thoughts. In the end, I'm planning right now for 4 days in Sucre, hopefully including a one or two-day hike, then a day and a half in Potosi before taking the bus to Uyuni. Of course, this is "the plan" so we know it will change, fingers crossed for no paros during the 2-week trip :)