Tupiza was not a place we planned on visiting while in Bolivia. After doing more and more research for our Salt Flats tour, we ultimately decided to begin our tour from Tupiza in the south instead of the more popular northern jumping off point of Uyuni. Part had to do with our itinerary (we were heading south to Argentina), and part had to do with the itinerary of Salt Flat tours. Regardless of why we ended up here, it was a wise decision, and this little town was a nice surprise with gorgeous surroundings.
There’s tons of information on the Tips for Visiting the Salt Flats post and the Salar de Uyuni recap pages. For more information, read my guest post on the Travel Dudes website about why it’s better to go from Tupiza instead of Uyuni.
Another reason for coming to Tupiza was to avoid another Bolivian bus. A train runs to Tupiza twice a week, so we thought we’d take another mode of transport (NOTE: The trains book up quickly, so if you can only get 3rd class, you may as well take the bus).
Bus- Tupiza is a small town, and the bus station is near the river at the south end of Av Pedro Arraya. It is very well organized and has many bus different bus companies going the same routes. Be sure to check around for the best price. You can get to any hostels/hotels by walking. We took a bus from La Paz to Oruro, then the train from there. When moving on from Tupiza, we took a bus south to the Bolivia/Argentine border.
Train- The train station is just a short walk north from the bus station, and it is near several accommodation choices. If coming from the north, the train only runs twice a week from Oruro. Plan in advance as it’s an overnight journey, and as we experienced, 3rd class is not the most comfortable for a night’s sleep.
No need for taxis around these parts. Tupiza is a tiny little town, and all you need is your own two feet to get around.
Where to Stay
Again, it’s a small town, so there’s accommodations everywhere. We turned up in the morning after our train ride and just wandered until we found the right place. There’s plenty of variety, and you will be approached by touts getting off the train or bus.
Where we stayed- We got lucky to be here during shoulder season, and most hostels/hotels in the area also offer Salt Flats tour, so we were able to bargain for a cheap room in a nice place if we booked our tour with them. We ended up at a place called La Torre. The staff was super nice and friendly, they had a good breakfast that was included, and the rooms were quite nice and comfortable.
Food and Drink
As with most of the rest of Bolivia, the food here was pretty standard. The town itself is set up for tourists coming to visit the Salar de Uyuni, so most restaurants cater to tourists, so that means pizza, burgers, sandwiches, and your standard tourist fare. To be honest, nothing really stood out as really bad or really good, so take your pick from the myriad of restaurants that are all pretty similar.
Things to Do
Obviously most people are here for a trip into the Salt Flats, but there are a few other things to do around town in the day or two surrounding your tour, most notably taking a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid tour.
Salar de Uyuni tour- The Salt Flats are a big reason why many tourists visit Bolivia, and they don’t disappoint. Taking a tour from Tupiza instead of Uyuni is a bit more expensive, but it’s worth the extra money as most tours only have 4 people per jeep (instead of 6), and the Salt Flats themselves are seen on the last day of the tour instead of the first, as from Uyuni. Read the tips for going on a Salt Flats tour and the two part recap of our trip into this other-worldly wonderland.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid tour- Horse tours can be arranged to follow in the footsteps of these Wild West fugitives supposed final days in southwestern Bolivia, from the surrounding mountains to San Vincente, where their final shootout allegedly took place, to the final resting spot of both.
Wandering Around- I wasn’t feeling stellar the few days before arriving in Tupiza, so I wanted to take it easy before heading out in a jeep for four days, so we did a lot of wandering around town. Tupiza is a sleepy little town that is a fun place to just walk and get lost. The surrounding area is gorgeous, and one can easily waste an afternoon just walking and taking in the beautiful scenery.
*picture by feserc-Creative Commons License