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Tupiza via Atocha to Uyuni, Bolivia - It's The Wild West Down Here

Bolivia experiences and stories by a backpacker - April 2008   » View Photoset (15 Photos)

The following morning after a day horse riding I made an early start towards the bus terminal in Tupiza just a few minutes walk away. I intended on getting a bus but it was full up, so the other and better option was to go by jeep. There was enough people who couldn't fit in the bus to fill the 10 spaces available in the jeep pretty quickly. We set off towards Uyuni with a mixture of travelers and locals onboard with all the luggage on the roof. The journey in the end took nearly 10hrs after 2 flat tyres along the way and an extended stop for about 2hrs in the small town of Atocha which is about halfway between Tupiza and Uyuni. The locals in our jeep were all finishing their journey in Atocha, the rest of us walked around for a bit and bought food, fruit, drinks and snacks from the locals. At the back of the stalls is the railway station with its array of tracks and a monument for Mercado Urkupina. Our driver was not in a hurry to leave, he was waiting to get the 1st flat tyre repaired and also waiting for a few people to fill the 4 now empty seats in the jeep. After the tyre was fixed and back onboard, we still waited and waited for some people to fill the empty seats, it just wasn't happening. I came up with a great idea that if the rest of us put in 10 Bolivianos each and buy the seats, we would be able to get going and in more comfort too. It was nearly 4pm and we all wanted to get to Uyuni before dark and there was still several hours more to travel. The driver agreed with this idea as he would do and finally the jeep continued on. Lucky that flatty was fixed in Atocha because an hour later we got another flat tyre. This journey from Tupiza to Uyuni sums up well the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere - a dusty road of rubble with hills and valleys of cactus all around. It was great, I'll never forget it! By early evening we had arrived in Uyuni.

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Distances & times (if available) from a point on the journey from Tupiza via Atocha to Uyuni (Bolivia) to:
 A : Uyuni & the Salar de Uyuni (Salt Flats) - Bolivia 82 kms 82 kms straight distance | 2hrs 21mins 2hrs 21mins by car (102 kms) | 2hrs 49mins 2hrs 49mins by bus (102 kms) (102 kms)
 B : Tupiza - Bolivia 75 kms 75 kms straight distance | 2hrs 58mins 2hrs 58mins by car (106 kms) | 3hrs 33mins 3hrs 33mins by bus (106 kms) (106 kms)
 C : Villazon & Argentinian Border - Bolivia 142 kms 142 kms straight distance | 4hrs 16mins 4hrs 16mins by car (196 kms) | 5hrs 7mins 5hrs 7mins by bus (196 kms) (196 kms)
 D : La Quiaca & Bolivian Border - Argentina 145 kms 145 kms straight distance | 4hrs 23mins 4hrs 23mins by car (198 kms) | 5hrs 15mins 5hrs 15mins by bus (198 kms) (198 kms)
 E : Uyuni to Potosi - Bolivia 99 kms 99 kms straight distance | 3hrs 53mins 3hrs 53mins by car (206 kms) | 4hrs 39mins 4hrs 39mins by bus (206 kms) (206 kms)
 F : Potosi - Bolivia 158 kms 158 kms straight distance | 5hrs 22mins 5hrs 22mins by car (302 kms) | 6hrs 26mins 6hrs 26mins by bus (302 kms) (302 kms)
 G : Tarija - Bolivia 162 kms 162 kms straight distance | 6hrs 44mins 6hrs 44mins by car (312 kms) | 8hrs 4mins 8hrs 4mins by bus (312 kms) (312 kms)
 H : La Quiaca to Jujuy - Argentina 268 kms 268 kms straight distance | 6hrs 11mins 6hrs 11mins by car (353 kms) | 7hrs 25mins 7hrs 25mins by bus (353 kms) (353 kms)
 I : Oruro - Bolivia 344 kms 344 kms straight distance | 6hrs 44mins 6hrs 44mins by car (429 kms) | 8hrs 4mins 8hrs 4mins by bus (429 kms) (429 kms)
 J : Sucre - Bolivia 232 kms 232 kms straight distance | 8hrs 25mins 8hrs 25mins by car (464 kms) | 10hrs 6mins 10hrs 6mins by bus (464 kms) (464 kms)
 K : Salta to Paso de Jama (Chile Border) - Argentina 365 kms 365 kms straight distance | 9hrs 48mins 9hrs 48mins by car (499 kms) | 11hrs 45mins 11hrs 45mins by bus (499 kms) (499 kms)
 L : Bermejo & Aguas Blancas Border - Bolivia 278 kms 278 kms straight distance | 9hrs 30mins 9hrs 30mins by car (502 kms) | 11hrs 24mins 11hrs 24mins by bus (502 kms) (502 kms)
 M : Calama - Chile 329 kms 329 kms straight distance | 9hrs 48mins 9hrs 48mins by car (527 kms) | 11hrs 45mins 11hrs 45mins by bus (527 kms) (527 kms)
 N : Paso de Jama to San Pedro to Calama - Chile 269 kms 269 kms straight distance | 9hrs 12mins 9hrs 12mins by car (529 kms) | 11hrs 2mins 11hrs 2mins by bus (529 kms) (529 kms)
 O : San Pedro de Atacama - Chile 300 kms 300 kms straight distance | 10hrs 34mins 10hrs 34mins by car (619 kms) | 12hrs 40mins 12hrs 40mins by bus (619 kms) (619 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.
Videos from Tupiza via Atocha to Uyuni, Bolivia:
The Town of Atocha between Tupiza & Uyuni Video
The Town of Atocha between Tupiza & Uyuni Video
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