To travel across the salt falts of Salar de Uyuni, you will need a 4WD vehicle, such as a Toyota Landcruiser, with a knowledgeable driver, as most of the driving is off-road and sometimes through water. All of the adventure tour groups and agencies provide them.
There are daily services at 10 am and 7pm from Uyuni to Potosi. At least two companes run at these times. We took the 10am one and it cost 30 Bs per person and took 7.5 hours. It's supposed to be six but we had one break down, one wheel change and one delay as a truck in front of us got stuck on a pass and had to wait for help. Delays are common while travelling by bus in Bolivia so bring a good book, food and drink and a lot of patience. Also, the roads are unpaved and it gets very bumpt. Scenery on route is excellent, sit on the left for better views.
In Uyuni you will find several small travel agencies which offer a 1/2/3 and 4 days trip around the Salar. If you got time it worths to spend the 4 days trip on a big 4x4 Gip. Choosing the best travel agency it's not very easy as there are so many and people will stop you everywhere at all time of the day try to sell you the journey. The route is the same for all the agencies, and the service more or less too. Make sure the one you are choosing has a good 4x4 Gip and ask to see the pictures of the Hotels they are going to use. Don't expect the best food served and if you suffer the altitude buy before some proper medicine. At the end of the trip if you have enjoyed that it's nice to tip the driver/guide who is going to stay with you during the trip.
To across the border from Argentina to Bolivia it's not hard at all. I took the bus from Salta (north of Argentina) to Villazon which is the first village you find when arrive to Bolivia from this side. The Village is amazing because it will introduce and welcome you very well to all the things are gonna happen in Bolivia in the rest of your staying. It's a bit shocking the first day as the two country are really different to each others, but the real and old South America is actually this, the great indigenous people that you can mostly find in Bolivia and Peru'.
In Villazon a good Hotel (25 bolivianos x night) is just in front of the main square.
From Villazon I booked the train to the Salar Uyuny but make sure to book it as soon as you get there because it's only one train running everyday. Don't reserve on this train the first class, get the cheapest class because the difference of money doesn't justify the service offered and the cheap class is good too.
They have finally opened the new "Death Road" This road is also called the Yungas Road. It is actually the same route, but the new road is on the other side of the valley. Quality is better, but it still is a slow and dangerous trip. The old road is now primarily used by bicyclist.
Bolivia is a large country (like Texas and California combined) and the logistics of getting around can take large amounts of time. For example, the bus from La Paz to Oruro takes 3 hours and the train from Oruro to Uyuni takes 7 hours. The 4WD trip from Laguna Verde back to Uyuni takes 7 hours. The bus from Uyuni to Potosi (25 Bs.) takes 6 hours with only one 30 minute break for lunch. Share a collective taxi from Potosi to Sucre for 30 Bs. and save an hour (bus ride is 3 hours).
In general, all buses, trains and flights left pretty much on time. Bus seats are numbered and you buy a ticket for a specific seat. No bus I was on had a bathroom. The bathroom on the train was very clean.
Flying was the best way to cover the large distances; however, it's expensive compared to the buses and trains and there are a limited number of flights each day. The Bolivian airline, LAB, was modern and efficient, but was having financial problems (operations were suspended in Apr 07). While I was there, the La Paz airport was closed part of the time due to political demonstrations.
The La Paz bus station was designed by Eiffel (of French tower fame). Radio taxis in downtown La Paz charge 7 Bs. for a trip in that area.
So, who ever said Bolivia is dangerous is whack. What a beautiful country. Amazing people, very honest. Bolivianos is cheap. The penuts and chocolate wafers are so tasty.
Oh important facts: There are taxis, minibuses, buses, and military vehicles that can transport you around this great country. Getting to the Peru/Bolivian border is a piece of cake. Just watch it if you decide to do it on a Friday since every Friday is market day ON the border. Its quite entertaining to experience. But it is nice to see Peru again on time so that we can catch our flight home.
Riding on the buses in Bolivia can be a great part of your travel experience. One big plus is that the scenery is fantastic, and the bus is a nice way to enjoy that while getting from point A to point B. The buses are also very cheap. If there is one minus it has to be that the buses will pack in as many people as possible. Even if your bus starts out from it's destination with a light passenger load and plenty of space, it doesn't mean that it will stay that way. People wave down passing buses from anywhere along the road. You might see a group of 15 people board from out in the middle of nowhere. The buses tend to be at least half full of Cholas (indigenous women usually wearing bowler hats) at any given time. These ladies are usually rather rotund and take up a lot of space...and this is coming from a resident of the U.S., the fat capital of the world. Another piece of advice is to know the fare, as the ticket sellers might try to overcharge gringos.
We sailed at night with the MV Yavari. This vessel is a restored steamer with a long history. She was built in Britain and then carefully disassembled into 2766 pieces, each of which had to be carried across the Andes by mule over a period of six years to an altitude of 3000 meter above sealevel. In 1861 she was commissioned by the Peruvian president Ramon Castilla. In 1870 at last the ship was launched and the engines were powered on dried llama dung.
If you are traveling by Flota, you will notice that there are lots of what seems to be unplanned stops. I got nervous about the constant loading and unloading of luggage. My cousin who lost his luggage on a previous trip told me that its good practice to tip the luggage handler to look after your belongings. I tipped 5 Bolivianos before and after my arrival on all my trips, it was worth the peace of mind and the cost equals about a dollar!
When at all possible...Walk! its safer! No lie, i got in a cab and the whole inside was refurbished...the steering wheel that used to be on the right handside is now on the left...and the seat was a lawn chair, tied down by wires!! I felt like getting out immeditely but we were off so fast, i just held on and laughed! The Micros are not any better, i avoided them totally on this trip. No mode of transportation is up to code and you really take a chance when you ride in any of them. The rides are very cheap though! Things are a bit different when traveling to another department. If you want to see the country take a Flota. They arent too bad and its worth to always buy a first class ticket. In some departments there are no airports so this will be your only mode of trans unless you hire a private driver, but my advise is the flota, you get to see all of the interesting stops and customs. I ate dried llama in a bag at one stop! i was so hungry! and i couldnt believe i could make such a purchase! use caution when eating such items, i have a stomach made of steel:)
Pour se deplacer, rien de tel que de demander un petit coup de pouce aux gens du coin... Laurena une geante du salar, m a permi de gagner du temps dans ma traverser du desert....
Et voila comment on decole.... YAAAHOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!
Attention.... Sport a risque....
Ni parachute ni filet.
The best mean to travel into the desert, definitely... Try the bycicle if you feel like adventurous !
Le meilleur moyen de voyager dans le desert, definitivement.... Essayez avec le velo si vous vous sentez l'ame d'un guerrier !
There are big buses leaving Trinidad : take them, and avoid the small ones, if you want to travel with a bit more confort and without being treated like a sucker by the companies (selling more places than there actually are, giving you a wrong departure time...)
Il y a des gros bus qui partent depuis Trinidad. Dans la mesure du possible, prenez les et evitez les minibus, si vous voulez un minimum de confort et ne pas etre considere comme un con par les compagnies (qui vendent plus de places qu'il n'y en a et vous filent de mauvais horaires de depart).
what can you find after a turn?
no road at all
a generic cattle
a llama or other camelides
a kicking donkey (luckyly it slipped)
a broken car
a police post
a dead horse with vultures
an incoming truck
a breathtaking view (at least this is not dangerous)
I'm sure the more you drive the more you find but this is what I found.
More Regions in Bolivia