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  • Suzie

Week 82 - 4x4 Road Trip

We made our way to Rox and Frank’s apartment in Sucre and awaited our driver Jose to take us to Potosi in Rox’s new Great Wall Haval H5. The purpose of the trip was for us to get some nice video and drone footage of the car and the landscapes to make a new video for her tour company, so we’d got everything charged up and ready to go. Also, Rox had arranged all of the accommodation and didn’t want anything from us which was super nice of her. Apparently they would all be nice places to, which would make a big change to our normal travels.

It wasn’t long before our driver arrived and we were on our way to Potosi. Rox would join us later as she had work to do, so it was Frank, Kelvin and I, which was nice as I didn’t have to have the middle seat. Yey!

Sleeping dog in Bolivia -

We arrived in Potosi near to Hostal Santa Monica, which was down a pedestrian alley. The traffic was completely crazy, and it was rush hour in the city, so with it’s one-way, single-lane system it was a bit slow going. Jose parked up and went to find the best way to the hostel and after a bit of searching drove us as close as we could get. He dropped us off and we walked along to the hostel and then checked in. It definitely didn’t feel like a hostel, it felt much more like a nice hotel and was way nicer than our usual accommodations. The room we were given was massive with a huge bed, huge bathroom and just a really lovely atmosphere.

Bolivian toilet signs -

We dumped our stuff and headed off with Frank to get some food and found a little place close by called Route 66. The burgers and beer were good, so we all had one or two and then went off for a wander around the city. Kelvin and I didn’t spend much more time out as we were both tired and I was feeling a little odd, so we said goodnight to Frank and headed to bed. I soon found out why I was feeling a bit around 1am I woke up and was vomiting, and then every hour after I did the same until about 5am. I was completely shattered and the thought of breakfast really didn’t excite me, which was a shame because it looked so good! Fortunately I didn’t continue to vomit after that and I started feeling a little better.

Salar de Uyuni sunset -

In the morning, Rox took us off to see the money museum (Casa Nacional de la Moneda) in the centre of Potosi. Despite there not being an English tour available, Rox managed to negotiate an English tour for us which was great. The place was really interesting and they had all of the old machines they used to make money, including the really old-school ones which were turned by horses. Sadly neither the horses or the workers lasted long in those days. Rox even bought me a small souvenir spoon as a little gift after the tour.

After that we went off for a lunch in the Square in a small restaurant called El Tenedor de Plata (I think). It was very tasty, but unfortunately I still hadn’t fully got my appetite back, so Kelvin got extras!

Salar de Uyuni flamingo -

Our next port of call was Uyuni, so we set off in the car again, this time with Rox as well. We ended up in another nice hotel called Hostel Tambo, owned by a guy who’d visited in Sucre a couple of weeks beforehand. Unfortunately he was away, but we enjoyed staying there. Again the room was huge and comfortable with a nice big bathroom. We settled in and then went off to Minuteman Pizza. We already knew this place from our previous visit so we were really looking forward to it. Frank, Kelvin and I headed off and got some drinks while we waited for Jose and Rox. When Jose arrived we ordered our Pizzas and got some more drinks. My favourite was the hot cider full of fresh ginger. I don’t think it actually had any alcohol in it but it tasted amazing! We wolfed down the pizzas quickly and I was glad my appetite was coming back. Unfortunately Rox didn’t manage to make it until we were leaving, so we went off to another cafe for another drink and so Rox could have something to eat. Then it was a short walk back to the hostel. I was thoroughly shattered after barely any sleep the night before, so I was super happy to be in a big comfy bed.

Salar de Uyuni -

My drone injury thanks to Kelvin -

The next morning we had a nice breakfast and waited for Jose and Rox. It was then off to Salar de Uyuni as Rox had to sort some business stuff and then it was off to do some photos and drone work. We got a load of shots of the 4x4 from different perspectives and then followed it with the Drone, followed by a trip to Isla Inkahuasi, we then ventured off to Isla Pescado. There it was excellent because there were a whole load of cactuses on the island. Unfortunately, after the last lot of drone flying Kelvin managed to fly the drone straight into my arm and I had a load of small, painful slices in my arm followed by a massive bruise. This was due to Kelvin's brain and mouth stupidly not being in sync! Luckily Rox had some iodine on hand and we got it covered up straight away.

We all clambered back in the car and headed off South towards San Pedro de Quemes (or there abouts). We passed by the Cueva de Galaxias (Galaxy Cave), but unfortunately it was shut, so the plan was to come back the next day. We continued on and managed to find a small hostel that had some space for us. The first option was fully booked however the place we found called Alojiamiento Lucas was really friendly, and they would also make us some chicken dinners for super cheap. We wanted to go to a shop but the town was so small, and there wasn’t any places that were obvious. The little boy from the hostel led us to someone’s house and knocked on the door. A lady opened it and there was a small shop inside so she let us in to buy some snacks and drinks. It was really funny, it was a shop that was open all the time by request, you just needed to know it was there! Later we all enjoyed a nice meal and a few bevvies, before heading to bed.

Galaxia Caves Salar de Uyuni -

Galaxia Caves burial chambers -

It was another early get up and then off to the Cuerva de Galaxias. It was super cheap to get in and a really awesome place, it's way off the normal tourist routes which we prefer. The caves were really amazing and the inside resembled a kind of bone matrix, like nothing I’d seen before, well apart from may be off the Alien film. The second cave had a whole load of burial chambers and Urns, with skulls, bones and other artefacts. Then we were able to walk up the path on top of the caves and along to a mirador. The view of the flats was amazing and we could see for miles, as well as some playful Vicunas down below.

Skuls at Galaxia caves -

Bosque de Piedras -

We all jumped back into the car and off we went to the next place, the Rock forest at Bosque de Piedras. The road was super bumpy and the car grounded out momentarily in a couple of places, but it was an awesome area to visit. The rocks were all jagged and went on for ages. We flew the drone over and took plenty of pictures. It was yet another lesser known place, not on many tourist trails, not like Rock Valley (Valle de Rocas), which is different. We would head off there next, and yes, just before this is where we found all of the other tourist trucks. It really was a beautiful area though and the views of the surrounding mountains were stunning. There was a little shop and we all had a nice cold beer while Rox got on with some business stuff. We then went through the Valle de Rocas and stopped in a few places to see various different formations, which were really cool.

Bolivia flag flying before Valle de Rocas -

Valle de Rocas -

Hidden Laguna -

Next was off to a lake, hidden by a big dip but really, really beautiful and quiet. There was evidence of other vehicles, however very seldomly visited by the masses. It was out of the way and therefore not ideal for the average itinerary, but I would highly recommend it. The water was the coolest mix of colours and the rocks surrounding the lake were so stunning. Some even looked like an other-worldly toadstool with green moss growing under a big mushroom head shaped rock. We spent quite a while here, just taking drone footage, pictures and enjoying the surroundings.

Hidden Laguna rocks -

Hidden Laguna in Lagunas Route -

Our last stop was at a truly hidden laguna, most definitely off the tourist trail. We parked up and had to walk maybe 5 to 10 minutes to the lake but it was really gorgeous. We met plenty of Llamas on route and climbed over some rocks, and then the lake came into view. There was yet another rock forest in this area, and it seemed even more significant than the Valle de Rocas, just not as accessible. The sun was starting to dip down and it lit up the area magnificently. After a little while we headed back to the car and started the long trip back to Uyuni, watching the sun go down as we went. It had been such a fantastic day. We had taken a lot of time taking photos and video, so we ended up back in Uyuni very late and struggled to find anywhere open for food, but we found a little place in the end. It wasn’t the best pizza in the world but much appreciated as we were super hungry, and then it was back to the hotel again for some much needed sleep.

Laguna rocks -

Hidden Laguna so beautiful -

The next day would be our final day of the trip. We set off from Uyuni and then onto the back roads a little East of the town. It was all dirt roads and proper Bolivian countryside with small villages dotted here and there. We stopped in several places, all of which seemed quite deserted except for the last one, where Rox needed to do some business. We went off in search of a toilet, which was much harder than anticipated. I think many people went ‘afuera’ or outside! In the end a local chap managed to get us into the toilet in the police station, which I was really grateful for. The locals were really intrigued by our presence and after a little while taking shade under one of the trees in the main plaza we set off again. We followed the dirt roads back to the main tarmac road and headed back in the direction of Sucre. We stopped at one final place on route where there was a rock canyon. It was pretty cool as well, and the funniest thing was whilst were there, a massive herd of Llamas came walking up the main road, un-phased by anything. It was quite a site and luckily the traffic slowed down enough that no accidents were caused.

Backroads Uyuni river -

Backroads river Uyuni small waterfalls -

The trip back to Sucre was a long one. We had planned to stop for some food in one of the towns between Potosi and Sucre, however on entering the town it was obvious there were some big protests going on. Jose weaved his way through the town and when we hit the main square there were loads of people all around. Some threw cans and bottles at the car, maybe thinking it was a government vehicle? Whatever the reason, Jose got out of there quickly and managed to find a route back to the main road that wasn’t blocked. Instead we stopped at a small roadside restaurant just before Sucre for some much needed grub. Cheap and cheerful!

Alternative Bolivian Rainbow Mountain near Uyuni -

Houses in small village outback Uyuni -

We arrived late in Sucre and then Jose took us back to the apartment after dropping off Rox and Frank. Unfortunately the builders put lock on gate and we didn’t have a key. We couldn’t get hold of Rox or Frank so we booked into hostel nearby, however not 30 minutes later Rox managed to come with key and so we left hostel, but they wouldn’t refund us and they wouldn’t allow someone else to have the room for free, which was a bit shit. They originally said that they would give the room to someone else for free, but after finding a respectable looking backpacker on our walk back to Rox’s, they refused. Even so, it was so nice to be back in the apartment and with the dogs. They missed us a lot! Needless to say we had LOTS of cuddles before we finally went to bed!

Frank and Rox in Valle de Rocas -

A link to the video we produced for Rox is available HERE.


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