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Tupiza, Bolivia - Seeking The Legend Of Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid

Bolivia experiences and stories by a backpacker - April 2008 November 2011   » View Photoset (61 Photos)

Tupiza will remind you of the scenery you have seen in the wild west movies, it is surrounded by the Cordillera de Chichas, a rugged, rocky, mountainous area of jagged edged hills and dusty canyons of cactus. Things to do here include horse riding, biking and hiking, there a few tour operators with guides around town. It is a small place with a few restaurants, internet cafes with slow connections and some hotels and hostels. There is also a train station with a line going to Uyuni, but the train is not daily. 5 minutes down the road from the train is the bus terminal where jeeps are also available to travel to Uyuni on the road of rubble. The jeep is faster than the bus, expect a flat tyre somewhere along the way! I spent 2 days and nights in Tupiza the first time I visited in 2008. I arrived in the morning after spending most of the night on a bus from the south in Salta, Argentina. I spent most of the day sleeping, eating and looking around this pleasant and slow place. I came to Tupiza to seek out in some way the legend of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I found a tour office and organised a 5 hour horse ride with a small group for the next day. It was April and once the sun was out it was very warm as I walked around enjoying the first time I had really seen women wearing traditional clothing in South America. Tupiza has its share of street dogs which is more than common in towns and cities over here, but it is a pretty clean and tidy place. The next morning after the free breakfast at my hotel I made my way up the street and around the corner to the tour office at around 9:30am. I met my group of 3 Irish people and our guide. Make sure you bring jeans or long pants, shoes, a hat, small backpack, camera, sunscreen, sunglasses, snacks and a large bottle of water. We walked for about 10 minutes to get to our group of horses and set off along a dusty road to the hills and canyons of Butch and Sundance. Something unexpected happened a few minutes later. I saw a large herd of goats coming towards us on a quiet country road, so I started filming with my camera. When the goats had passed I said 'Hola' to the farmer woman and then she picked up a rock and threw it at me, hitting my leg and then saying something to me in Spanish. I guess she didn't like the filming of the goats? It was no big deal, I thought it was quite funny afterwards and I caught it all on film. The movie is on YouTube here. Into the terrain we went, jagged red-brown rock, dry and dusty trails, cactus and shrubs, grey-white hills and an array of beautiful color. Our first hour on the horses took us on a gradual climb upwards on a road with good views of the ranges in the distance behind. At this point another group on horses trotted up the hill and past us, although we did see them again where all the groups stop for a rest in a nice shaded rocky area. 10 minutes later we came to a huge tunnel/gate/doorway of red-brown rock and passed through to the otherside to find more hills, cactus, rubble and rock. Some of the shapes of the jagged rock looked like something from beneath the ocean, it is an awesome sight. After some lunch we continued to explore this rugged terrain where great sheets of rock dominate the landscape and jagged rock families appear to grow out of the ground. We came to an area for a rest in the shadow of huge walls of rock that dwarfed all of us. Then we began the ride back into Tupiza, it had been over 4 hours out here in hot weather. It was a good amount of time to be on horses, my body was getting a bit sore. I thoroughly enjoyed the day, our guide was good and pretty laid-back. He led us back to town, but I can't forget that on the way I saw a dog eating a cat. After 1 more night in Tupiza I was ready to travel up to Uyuni to see the worlds biggest salt flats. I returned to Tupiza in November 2011, this time coming from Sucre via Potosi (9hrs 30mins by bus in total). I travelled through the night and arrived at like 3am in the morning. Across the road from Tupiza bus terminal is a cheap hotel and I slept there for the night, moving to another hostel in the center of town the next day. I spent 4 nights in Tupiza this time and planned to do another horse ride and look around the town some more. Beside the bus terminal is a gold monument of a man Pedro Arraya on a horse with a sword, it is in memory of the Battle of Suipacha in 1810. The battle took place 25km from Tupiza. Tupizas central park Plaza Independencia is lovely, the beautiful big pink, orange and white church stands on one side. In the middle the monument is to Jose Avelino Aramayo (1809-1882), a Bolivian mining entrepreneur. A carved wooden statue of P. Javier Willig stands in the gardens. Behind the church up the hill is Tupizas mirador lookout and a tall Jesus statue. There is a path leading up from a street below, the views are fantastic. There are many shrines up there but also lots of ugly graffiti. From up here I could see another park Plaza Civica, so I went down and made my way along a few streets to check it out. Along the way I came across a monument to a man called Prof. Saturnino Murillo and another to the Chaco War (1932-1935) which was fought between Bolivia and Paraguay. Plaza Civica has a couple of monuments to men but doesn't say who they are. Some local kids with scary masks posed for a photo. There are trees and flower gardens. To the other side of town near the railway station is Tupizas monument to the independence of Bolivia, a tall column. Along the road a bit towards the bus terminal is the Coliseo, a small arena. I visited the markets now to buy supplies for the next days horse ride. A monument to Dr. Adolfo Torres Carpio (1888-1971) stands nearby. I booked a horse tour with the same tour company as I had the previous time in 2008, Tupiza Tours. The price had gone up quite a bit. I booked a 7hr ride this time. I saw a lot more on this occasion including rivers and different areas that I hadn't seen before and of course some spectacular rock formations. 7hrs on a horse was quite hard going on my back and legs but again it was a great day! I must mention another monument I saw while I walked to the horse that morning called El Tamal. Tamales are Tupizas traditional plate - dried spicy meat encased in corn mash, try some! From Tupiza this time I travelled south to Villazon.

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My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Tupiza, Bolivia:

Residencial La Joya, Tupiza, Bolivia - Large Photo
Residencial La Joya, Tupiza, Bolivia (Nov 2011 - 2 nights) - Stay here if you arrive in Tupiza in the middle of the night, it's opposite the bus terminal. It's cheap and simple but good, it's clean and run by a friendly family. Shared bathroom, garden area, secure. Recommended.
Gran Hostal Girasol, Tupiza, Bolivia - Large Photo
Gran Hostal Girasol, Tupiza, Bolivia (Nov 2011 - 2 nights) - A nice hostel in the center of Tupiza with beautiful rooms, big beds and cable tv, the bathroom was shared for me. A secure building and nice staff, clean and quite flash. Opposite Tupiza Tours office. Recommended.
Hotel Mitru Anexo, Tupiza, Bolivia - Large Photo
Hotel Mitru Anexo, Tupiza, Bolivia (Apr 2008 - 2 nights) - I had a simple and quiet room. The hotel was in a good location near the train station, restaurants, internet cafe and tour operators. I believe it's sister hotel up the road has a pool that can be used.

Distances & times (if available) from Tupiza (Bolivia) to:
 A : Villazon & Argentinian Border - Bolivia 72 kms 72 kms straight distance | 1hr 36mins 1hr 36mins by car (95 kms) | 1hr 55mins 1hr 55mins by bus (95 kms) (95 kms)
 B : La Quiaca & Bolivian Border - Argentina 75 kms 75 kms straight distance | 1hr 43mins 1hr 43mins by car (97 kms) | 2hrs 3mins 2hrs 3mins by bus (97 kms) (97 kms)
 C : Tupiza via Atocha to Uyuni - Bolivia 75 kms 75 kms straight distance | 3hrs 3hrs by car (106 kms) | 3hrs 36mins 3hrs 36mins by bus (106 kms) (106 kms)
 D : Uyuni & the Salar de Uyuni (Salt Flats) - Bolivia 157 kms 157 kms straight distance | 5hrs 21mins 5hrs 21mins by car (207 kms) | 6hrs 25mins 6hrs 25mins by bus (207 kms) (207 kms)
 E : Tarija - Bolivia 99 kms 99 kms straight distance | 4hrs 11mins 4hrs 11mins by car (214 kms) | 5hrs 1min 5hrs 1min by bus (214 kms) (214 kms)
 F : La Quiaca to Jujuy - Argentina 200 kms 200 kms straight distance | 3hrs 31mins 3hrs 31mins by car (252 kms) | 4hrs 13mins 4hrs 13mins by bus (252 kms) (252 kms)
 G : Potosi - Bolivia 208 kms 208 kms straight distance | 4hrs 4hrs by car (257 kms) | 4hrs 48mins 4hrs 48mins by bus (257 kms) (257 kms)
 H : Uyuni to Potosi - Bolivia 162 kms 162 kms straight distance | 5hrs 13mins 5hrs 13mins by car (334 kms) | 6hrs 15mins 6hrs 15mins by bus (334 kms) (334 kms)
 I : Jujuy - Argentina 309 kms 309 kms straight distance | 5hrs 8mins 5hrs 8mins by car (377 kms) | 6hrs 9mins 6hrs 9mins by bus (377 kms) (377 kms)
 J : Salta to Paso de Jama (Chile Border) - Argentina 316 kms 316 kms straight distance | 7hrs 8mins 7hrs 8mins by car (398 kms) | 8hrs 33mins 8hrs 33mins by bus (398 kms) (398 kms)
 K : Bermejo & Aguas Blancas Border - Bolivia 203 kms 203 kms straight distance | 6hrs 57mins 6hrs 57mins by car (405 kms) | 8hrs 20mins 8hrs 20mins by bus (405 kms) (405 kms)
 L : Sucre - Bolivia 272 kms 272 kms straight distance | 6hrs 44mins 6hrs 44mins by car (412 kms) | 8hrs 4mins 8hrs 4mins by bus (412 kms) (412 kms)
 M : Paso de Jama to San Pedro to Calama - Chile 239 kms 239 kms straight distance | 6hrs 32mins 6hrs 32mins by car (427 kms) | 7hrs 50mins 7hrs 50mins by bus (427 kms) (427 kms)
 N : San Pedro de Atacama - Chile 301 kms 301 kms straight distance | 8hrs 16mins 8hrs 16mins by car (587 kms) | 9hrs 55mins 9hrs 55mins by bus (587 kms) (587 kms)
 O : Calama - Chile 349 kms 349 kms straight distance | 9hrs 30mins 9hrs 30mins by car (687 kms) | 11hrs 24mins 11hrs 24mins by bus (687 kms) (687 kms)
Driving times are accurate but approximate and are listed in the order of driving distance! Drive times are always affected by weather conditions, the terrain, time of day, altitude, dinner and bathroom stops, animals on the road, protests, a fast or slow bus driver, police checkpoints, border and river crossings, dropping off and picking up passengers etc. These drive times are obtained from Google Maps and are meant as a guide. Note however, times quoted in the main text of this page are exactly as the author experienced it.
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