Published: February 6th 2007January 2nd 2007
After a great nights sleep and a filling breakfast, I was ready for a full-day of biking and horseback riding. The tour was suppose to last seven and half hours, including a break for lunch. On my tour, I was joined by an Israeli woman (with Canadian citizenship as well). That was it, only one other person. I guess there aren't that many tourists going through Tupiza at this time of year that wanted to do this circuit. The first part of our tour was on bike and this would end up at a lookout point at Entre Rios. It is hard to concentrate on biking all the time with spectacular scenery all around. Most of the ride out to Entre Rios, Orna and I biked by each other, talking most of the time and stopping from time to time to take pictures of the scenery. The traffic on the road was flying by us, definitely making no attempt to slow down for us poor bikers, to save us from the clouds of dust they would chalk up. At the looking point of Entre Rios (which literally means "Between Rivers") we took a break for water and to rest before heading
out onto the next part of the tour. We put the bikes on top of the jeep and headed towards where we would be having lunch. Our first stop was in a canyon and we could out of the jeep to explore it. Our guide told us that we should meet him back at the jeep in about 10 minutes, but for some reason, I think that we explored more of the canyon than most people do because it took us about 25 minutes to explorer. The sky was beginning to turn gray at this point and we could tell it was raining in the distance but so far, we were lucky. After the hike through the canyon, we drove to a place called Quebrada Seca at Toroyo. From what I understand, "quebrada" means brook or stream and "seca" means dry. There seemed to be water here though. Our lunch location was very nice, down beside the river, sitting at a table in the shade of a huge tree. Lunch consisted on ham and cheese sandwiches, empanadas, yogourt and water. Some locals who were picnicking in this area as well were playing a game of soccer (what a surprise!) that
kept us entertained before continuing of our tour.
The jeep took us back to the outskirts to Tupiza where we would find our horses for the horseback riding portion of our circuit. Our horses were very calm, which was good because both of us were unexperienced horseback riders. Our destination on horseback was "El Valle de los Machos" (Valley of Males) and this took us about an hour to get to this point. The valley is called "El Valle de los Machos" because of the phallic shape of the rocks that can be found all over the area. After seeing these "rocks" we continued on to "El Cañon de los Incas" before heading back to town to drop off our horses and jump back into the jeep for the next part of our tour. The horses that we had for our tour were great and seemed to now the way to where we were going without much effort on our part. Orna's horse almost like to lead while mine seemed to prefer to follow most of the time. Every time my horse got ahead of Orna's, her horse would run up ahead of mine.
Our last destination for
the day was a lookout point called El Sillar, located at 3,750m above sea. To put in perspective, Tupiza is located at 2,950m above sea level so were 800m above the town and the view was spectacular. There wasn't too much higher than us in the surrounding area. For the final part of our tour, we strapped on our bike helmets and started to head downhill, back to Tupiza, on bikes. Biking all downhill sounds much easier than it is because we were constantly breaking. There is now way we would want to go off the road as there were no guardrails and the drop to do some serious damage to our bodies. Near the bottom, where yesterday there was a dried up river, some water was now running through which went we had to big through it. Orna took it much more aggressively than I did and paid the price by being covered in mud by the end of the it. Our tour concluded back in town at our hotel, 45 minutes later than originally scheduled. The hotel was nice enough to let us shower up to get the mud of of us. After a quick shower, I joined
Orna around town to run some errands and I picked up some snacks for my bus ride on this night to Tarija, a nine and half hour bus ride in the middle of the night.
Of course my bus did not leave on time (scheduled: 8PM actual: 8:30PM). Of the two bus lines that run to Tarija, Expreso Diamente and Trans Tour Juarez, I took the later and the girl beside me on the bus assured me that I had taken the better of the two bus lines. She went on further to say that Expreso Diamente had an accident before Christmas went off the road, killing seven people. Just what kind of things I want to hear as I am getting on a bus to do the same route. About five kilometers out of Tupiza, we say the Expreso Diamente bus stopped on the side of the road with a police jeep beside it and a jeep smashed up. Barely out of town and already in an accident. I had friends on this bus, so I figured I would be more information the next day. (What happened was the bus ran into the back of the jeep). Our
drive drove on for about an hour and half and came to a newly made river that crossed the highway and there are no bridges to cross. There was a bus coming from the other direction that attempted to cross the river first and got stuck. As we could not go anywhere until the bus was out of the river, most of our bus piled out onto the road to see what was going on and of course I did. From talking to people from the other bus, who were told to get out the bus, the bus was coming from Argentina and going to La Paz. It took about an hour and half to get the bus unstuck with shovels and picks. Our bus made it across on one attempt. Surprisingly the whole time we were waiting the other bus (the one in the accident) never showed up. A few minutes after crossing the river, the Expreso Diamente bus flew by us at an amazing speed. I am so glad that I wasn't on that bus! After that, I tried to go back to sleep but as the road was very windy, narrow, and on cliff sides, it was
hard not to concentrate on the road to make sure the bus wasn't about to go off. I gotta say that this was a more nerve-racking ride that the ride of the World's Most Dangerous Highway from La Paz to Coroico. The girl beside me offered half of her blanket to me to keep me warm and possibly help me to sleep. I'm glad that most Bolivians are very hospitable people. It gave me some comfort on the nightmare ride to Tarija.
There are more photos below