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Uyuni to Potosi, Bolivia - Watch Out For Roadblocks

Bolivia experiences and stories by a backpacker - October 2011   » View Photoset (25 Photos)

After my 2nd time in Uyuni I finally left after being held up for 3 days because of road blocks near Potosi which had been set up by the miners who were protesting against something. This is very common in Bolivia, roads can be blocked for weeks on end, letting traffic through only at night or during weekends. Perhaps the journey between Uyuni and Potosi is not well documented or photographed, the aim of this page is too mainly show the photos I took during the bus ride. The road was still blocked but it was a workable situation because the block was very close to Potosi. The bus would stop and we would walk through the lines of rocks and other objects placed on the road and hitch a ride after that. The 4 and a half hour journey began as we climbed out of Uyuni into the mountains having great views of Uyuni and the salt flats on the right side way out in the distance. Within 25mins we came to the mining town of Pulacayo, there is a train on display here that was robbed by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and a monument called Bodas de Plata (Silver Jubilee). Pulacayo is the location of the worlds 2nd largest silver mine Huanchaca founded in 1833. About an hour after leaving Pulacayo we passed a salt flat area that is surrounded by red-rock mountains and hills. This is just before arriving in the small town of Tica Tica. After Tica Tica the landscape gets more interesting with it's amazing rock formations, tree areas, small salt areas and roaming llamas. The rock formations have a huge range of shapes and textures and are quite spectacular. The bus neared Potosi and joined a huge line of cars, trucks and buses all stuck there. We were told after getting our backpacks to walk through the road block for 15mins to the other side and get a ride from there. When we got to the other side I asked a guy in a truck if we could grab a lift into town, it was ok with him. Potosi was only about 5-10mins away.

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Distances & times (if available) from a point on the journey from Uyuni to Potosi (Bolivia) to:
 A : Potosi - Bolivia 67 kms 67 kms straight distance | 1hr 29mins 1hr 29mins by car (95 kms) | 1hr 46mins 1hr 46mins by bus (95 kms) (95 kms)
 B : Uyuni & the Salar de Uyuni (Salt Flats) - Bolivia 82 kms 82 kms straight distance | 1hr 39mins 1hr 39mins by car (107 kms) | 1hr 58mins 1hr 58mins by bus (107 kms) (107 kms)
 C : Tupiza via Atocha to Uyuni - Bolivia 99 kms 99 kms straight distance | 3hrs 54mins 3hrs 54mins by car (206 kms) | 4hrs 40mins 4hrs 40mins by bus (206 kms) (206 kms)
 D : Sucre - Bolivia 144 kms 144 kms straight distance | 4hrs 32mins 4hrs 32mins by car (258 kms) | 5hrs 26mins 5hrs 26mins by bus (258 kms) (258 kms)
 E : Tupiza - Bolivia 162 kms 162 kms straight distance | 5hrs 11mins 5hrs 11mins by car (334 kms) | 6hrs 13mins 6hrs 13mins by bus (334 kms) (334 kms)
 F : Oruro - Bolivia 252 kms 252 kms straight distance | 6hrs 4mins 6hrs 4mins by car (414 kms) | 7hrs 16mins 7hrs 16mins by bus (414 kms) (414 kms)
 G : Villazon & Argentinian Border - Bolivia 234 kms 234 kms straight distance | 6hrs 28mins 6hrs 28mins by car (425 kms) | 7hrs 45mins 7hrs 45mins by bus (425 kms) (425 kms)
 H : La Quiaca & Bolivian Border - Argentina 237 kms 237 kms straight distance | 6hrs 35mins 6hrs 35mins by car (426 kms) | 7hrs 54mins 7hrs 54mins by bus (426 kms) (426 kms)
 I : Tarija - Bolivia 219 kms 219 kms straight distance | 6hrs 58mins 6hrs 58mins by car (427 kms) | 8hrs 21mins 8hrs 21mins by bus (427 kms) (427 kms)
 J : Calama - Chile 393 kms 393 kms straight distance | 9hrs 13mins 9hrs 13mins by car (534 kms) | 11hrs 3mins 11hrs 3mins by bus (534 kms) (534 kms)
 K : La Quiaca to Jujuy - Argentina 362 kms 362 kms straight distance | 8hrs 23mins 8hrs 23mins by car (582 kms) | 10hrs 3mins 10hrs 3mins by bus (582 kms) (582 kms)
 L : Cochabamba - Bolivia 294 kms 294 kms straight distance | 9hrs 20mins 9hrs 20mins by car (602 kms) | 11hrs 12mins 11hrs 12mins by bus (602 kms) (602 kms)
 M : Bermejo & Aguas Blancas Border - Bolivia 354 kms 354 kms straight distance | 9hrs 45mins 9hrs 45mins by car (617 kms) | 11hrs 42mins 11hrs 42mins by bus (617 kms) (617 kms)
 N : Paso de Jama to San Pedro to Calama - Chile 365 kms 365 kms straight distance | 10hrs 14mins 10hrs 14mins by car (617 kms) | 12hrs 16mins 12hrs 16mins by bus (617 kms) (617 kms)
 O : San Pedro de Atacama - Chile 381 kms 381 kms straight distance | 9hrs 59mins 9hrs 59mins by car (625 kms) | 11hrs 58mins 11hrs 58mins by bus (625 kms) (625 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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