DAYS 57 – 68: BOLIVIA
Heading overland from Argentina, you will cross into Bolivia where you will notice the difference as paved roads become non-existent and locals still follow tradition, wearing bright woollen clothes and bowler hats.
Quite a contrast is the shimmering white Uyuni Salt Lake. It is possible to venture out into the salt lakes for a 1 day excursion. With no roads and only vague tracks to follow it makes for an unforgettable overland experience.
Continuing north you will arrive in Potosi which at over 4000m, it is the highest city of its size in the world and 400 years ago it was the largest city in all the Americas. Vast amounts of silver were extracted from Potosi and shipped to Spain. There are tours to the mines and it is still clear to see that, unfortunately, working conditions here have hardly improved over the centuries. The adventurous among you will appreciate the opportunity to go down one of these mines with a local guide. The less adventurous can visit the ancient mint or take a tour around the Casa Nacional de Moneda (National Money House) which will provide a good look into Potosi’s and Bolivia’s past. The history and past colonial splendour make Potosi a fascinating place to visit as part of your travels in South America.
A tortuous drive across the Altiplano, where Aymara and Quechua Indians scrape a sparse living from their small plots of land in this harsh climate, brings you to La Paz. It’s the highest administrative capital city in the world and is built on a steep slope that falls away from the Altiplano. La Paz is a great place to visit on an overland trip to the Amazon, be sure to stop in at a ‘pena’ club, where live bands entertain us with Andean folk music.