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Bolivia WHS

Author nfmungard
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#1 | Posted: 3 Dec 2017 04:00 | Edited by: nfmungard 
Having all but one WHS in Bolivia short run down of the sites by me.

Itinerary (continued from my Peru trip):
* Day 1: Puno (Peru) to La Paz via Copacabana and Isla del Sol by bus (Bolivian Hop).
* Day 2: La Paz (one hour in the morning -> not that much to see), day trip to Tiwanaku, flight in the evening to Uyuni.
* Day 3: Uyuni Trip
* Day 4: Uyuni Trip
* Day 5: Uyuni Trip, Pulacayo Mine, Potosi
* Day 6: Potosi. Afternoon colectivo to Sucre
* Day 7: Sucre, Cal Orck'o, Flight to Santa Cruz de la Sierra
* Day 8: Daytrip to San Javier by bus.
* Day 9: Daytrip to El Fuerte de Samaipata
* Day 10: Flight to Panama

Optimizations
* On Day 8 I could have made it to Concepcion, too, but would have been back at 20:00h. I was just too tired due to the heat. Bear in mind that the missions are closed around siesta, so arriving after 12:00h won't help you much. I caught my bus at 8:30 from terminal bimodal (heading to Concepcion) and arrived at San Javier at 11:30h. Concepcion is another hour. At Terminal Bimodal there are multiple providers for the trip with busses and minibusses, so shop around to see who goes when. To travel from San Javier to Concepcion you can probably pick a bus or just hire a cab. The bus back goes at 15:00h from Concepcion arriving at 20:00h in Santa Cruz.
* The full mission circle with start/end in Santa Cruz should take three days.
* I would have loved to stay longer on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca and have more time to explore the islands.
* To Cal Orck'o just take a return cab.
* Noel Kempff is as my Bolivian Uyuni guide told me the GREATEST, BESTEST Amazonas National Park. I am not sure about that, but he also mentioned that the process of opening up to tourists has started with an airport being built etc. I did not invest the time to see how this would have been possible and how much this would have cost. There are plenty of operators nowadays, so this should be possible with 4-5 days to spare.

Ranking

World Class
* None of the inscribed sites are truly stunning and worth a trip on their own, emphasis inscribed sites.

Nice:
* Sucre. One of the nicest colonial/postcolonial cities I have seen so far in South America. If I ever move to Bolivia, this is where I would settle.
* El Fuerte. Nice ruins on a hilltop. The constructions made are helpful to graph the rockart. I made the mistake to hike up and down from the road (5km steep uphill). To get back to Santa Cruz I needed first to go back to Samaipata as the cabs would be full when they passed me. The ride to/from Samaipata is pretty amazing with the Andes climbing up around you.
* Jesuit Missions: Probably have a soft spot for these. The artistic level in San Javier was above that of the sister sites in Paraguay and Argentina. Also, the town layout was still intact. On the other hand, in Argentina and Paraguay with the jungle reclaiming the abandoned towns (St. Loreto) it's just more epic.

Average
* Tiwanaku. Interesting to understand that the plateau used to have a lot more rain and closer to the lake. This was good land for agriculture and then climate change and possibly human caused deforestation changed the picture. But the ruins are pretty simple.
* Potosi. I had expected more from the Spanish mine in the Americas. But in comparison to the Mexican mining towns (especially Guanajuato) this fell short. Also, everything was closed for some reason.

Tentative Sites:
* Pulacayo: If you enjoy industrial decay and are in Uyuni, go here for a visit. Not sure how this compares to Sewell, though, and if another 19th-20th century mine is needed. On the other hand, the Boliivan list is short.
* Titicaca: Inscribe. The Bolivian site is more original and plain stunning. Spent a full day exploring the two islands if you can.
* Cal Orck'o: Right now this is still a concrete factory and I see no way this can get inscribed as is. When you look at the walls and see the foot traces and realize that those are not man made but millions of years old, it's a simple site to behold. So, if Bolivia ever closes down the factory and prepares the site properly, I can see this happening. To get there, just take a cab. Everything else is just too cumbersome.

While You Are There:
* Uyuni Salt Flats: Stunning. World class. Worth a trip on its own. When you reach Isla Incahuasi you realize it's more than nature.
* Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa: Stunning. World class. Worth a trip on its own. So many colored lagunas and flamingos to see. Possibly combine with the Atacama desert on the Chilean side.

I split this into two as to me they seem to be distinct sites, albeit they are normally combined into one trip from Uyuni (3 days). I am not sure why this isn't on the list yet. Right now, this is still an affordable adventure (150$), so do it. Can be combined with a trip to Chile.

General Comments:
* Toilets in Bolivia have their own fun section in Lonely Planet, Chapter Survival Guide. Bring hand sanitizer.
* Peruvian food is better.
* Overall Bolivia is dirt cheap. For some strange reason, though, cabs seemed to be cheaper in Peru.
* Banks (no added surcharge for ATMs) and Mobile Phones (great coverage, can get a card for 10$ directly at the airport) are better than Peru.

Really enjoyed the place.

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