Salta to La Quiaca Arg./Villazon to Tupiza Bol.

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February 19th 2011
Published: February 19th 2011
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We're in Bolivia. This is how we got here from Buenos Aires( sorry for the spelling mistake last blog):

20 hr bus to Salta from BA, 2 days in Salta then 7 hr bus up to the Altiplano(3000-4000m plateau that spreads north to Peru) and the town of La Quiaca,1 night there. Walked across the Rio Grande Bridge into Bolivia and the town of Villazon. Half hour wait then 3 hour bus to Tupiza 70km north.

Two weeks learning Spanish hasn't really done the trick,we're still struggling and to make matters harder they(Bolivians)pronounce letters differently. It was fantastic to get away from the city and make our way north to the small city of Salta(1400m) with less fumes etc. But it was even better to climb even higher to La Quiaca(3400m)where we started to feel the altitude and the isolation compared to BA.
There is a big contrast to the twin towns on the border. Villazon was crazy with people trading everywhere they could. First thing we did after clearing customs(easy)was to change pesos into bolivianos at a Cambian(currency changer) which were everywhere. The roads/buses/pavements etc are chalk and cheese, and this just over the difference of 20m at the border.They are very poor in Bolivia.
So we headed up to Tupiza(2950) for 15 bolivianos each! By this time breathing whilst climbing stairs etc. was becoming easier and the fact we were dropping in height helped.
Bowler hats are worn by the older woman and there is a western feel to Tupiza as there are cactus, canyons and desert here. But its also famous for Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid who were killed nearby in 1908. We walked around exploring and watching locals get on with their market business. There are a few toristy pizza places but tourists are here to sign up on a 4 day "Salar" trip or walk the canyons or for ponytrekking. One of the Irish guys fell off his horse and received a shiner, so we opted out of that one. The 4 day salt flats trip was out as we had booked on the next train north to Oruru(3706m).

So we set of for the day packed with water and lunch and suncream for El Canon to do a loop through to another canyon called El Inca and back to Tupiza. We saw no one for 5 hrs and felt very islolated bvut content. Hard going in places with scrambling up and down and in some instances having Lynn standing on my shoulders. All the time watching to see if the dark clouds were changing, flash floods are treacherous in the narrow steep sided canyons. We climbed up to 3700m from 2900m at the saddle and made it back for a cold beer and shower after about 6 hours walking. All good training for the Machu Pichu for which we are booked on the 8th march.
Off on an over night train(12 hrs) to Oruru 300 km north and getting closer to Peru all the time.

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