So to all my family, friends and other readers, I am going to change the nature of my blog. Originally I started this blog idea to keep loved ones in the loop and share the experiences from my travels which I still will be doing but I will actually start giving all the information and tips I can to potential travelers who will be traveling to the same areas. I wanted to do that from the beginning but shortly found out that blogging and compiling this information is quite time consuming. The reason I am doing this now is because I was inspired by an Aussie couple we met on our past trek. And also in reality the best advice, information & anything else is usually found on travel blog sites.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, we were going to stop and stay in Potosi for two reasons: we read that it was the highest city in the world and also to break up some bus travel time from Uyuni to Sucre. Travel guide books are good to get you started but tend to give false info a lot. Such as Potosi is not the highest city in the world and the only thing to do there is take a mine tour which are unsafe and honestly really depressing sounding because you see how these mine workers are basically still treated as slaves.
Also I will admit that bus trips have probably been my least favorite aspect about Bolivia. I can manage the rough roads but I cannot accept that countless Bolivian bus drivers are drinking on the road and there are frequent accidents. The same day we left Uyuni to Potosi, another bus from Uyuni but bound for La Paz via Potosi was in an accident and 10 tourists and several locals died. Night buses are also supposed to be even harder because drunk drivers are more common, so do your best to avoid them. Another s*** aspect about the buses here that I know I have mentioned are the lack of toilets on board or lack of stops for passengers to go off the side of the road. This may be TMI but on one bus ride I even had to have Michelle shield me so I could squat and pee in a plastic bag, wow that was a fun experience. But to those future travelers of Bolivia, try flying between some cities if you can. It is a little more pricier but can be worth it.
A bus from Sucre to Cochabamba is 50 Bolivianos (about $7 USD) and is about nine hours at night whereas a flight is about 200 Bolivianos (about $29 USD) and is less than two hours. But as this is my blog post for Sucre, let's talk about this city.
From Potosi it was 20 Bolivianos (~$3 USD) and took about three hours and we arrived to the city around 6pm. From the bus station, we took a taxi because the station is not near anything else is town useful and we have big backpacks so that was another 10 Bolivianos (~ $1.50 USD) and we arrived to our hostel, Amigo Backpackers Hostel. This was a great and affordable hostel, for 35 Bolivianos ($5 USD) each we got our own private double bed room and a shared bathroom. Oh and the showers were actually hot water, which are very rare in this country as well as Peru. We stayed at this hostel for three nights total because we got in at night the first day and then spent the next day wandering the city. We went out to eat at a very good veggie friendly restaurant called El Germen and also visited the local Mercado Central to buy produce because I could actually cook meals at our hostel YAY! After our day exploring the city (not much to do) we prepared for our 3D/2N trek outside the city with the tour trekking company Condor Trekkers. This was not something we planned on doing but are glad we did because we hadn't been hiking as much as we both wanted so far in our travels.
Firstly Condor Trekkers was a great option because they are a nonprofit and they donate lots of money to the kids in the nearby village of Maragua for a school and helping their education. Our guide, Johnny, was incredibly friendly and overall just a great guide. This is a trek that would not of really been doable without a guide. We visited the Maragua "Crater" via the Inca Trail, the town of Maragua, the dinosaur tracks which were discovered in 2002, and ended in the town of Potolo.
We started the first day by meeting at Condor Trekkers/Condor Cafe at @ 6:30 am and took a local bus to outside of the city to an abandoned chapel, which was our starting point. Michelle and I were joined by five other hikers and our guide and they were probably my favorite trip group thus far. I mentioned the Aussie couple, their names were Dora and Toby and they were fantastic, we got so much info from them. They have been traveling for a year now and finish in December but they started in the southern States and worked their way through Central America and South America and are finishing in Patagonia. There was also another American, Elena, who had been traveling all around the world since January 2013 and has basically done traveling her whole life. Then Olivia from Switzerland who could speak Spanish better than I could and is only traveling for three months and is younger than me. Then lastly Armen who was from Germany who started in South Africa in January and motorbiked through a few countries in Africa then made his way to South America to finish in January 2015. Basically all were terrific and inspiring in different ways.
After we made our introductions we started on the Inca Trail towards Maragua Crater. This was the first time since we started in Bolivia that the weather was hot and sunny. For a few hours we continued down a rocky stair path and were surrounded by beautifully colored mountains and there were actually some trees. For lunch we stopped at this secluded waterfall and were joined by an adorable little frog that liked hiding under Toby's foot for awhile. After we had lunch we were all feeling really full and slightly more groggy which sucked since the rest of the day was steep uphill. But alas after about three/four more hours we made it to the small village of Maragua. For future tourists who read or consider the Maragua Crater just note that it's not actually a crater, it's really just a basin in the middle of some amazing looking mountains. There was volcanic activity in the area at some point in time but it is not a true crater, however still beautiful. We arrived to the village and stayed in really nice tourist cabanas. Johnny prepared a delicious dinner for us and after we learned a few new card games.
The next morning we left around seven and hiked up out of the "crater" towards the dinosaur tracks. After a couple of hours we found ourselves upon about ten prints embedded into rock on the side of a rocky hillside. We stopped there to take some photos and have a snack. I still am not 100% convinced that they are real but they don't necessarily look fake either. Regardless still cool to see. Then we continued on up and got more beautiful views of the red and green colored mountains. Then we stopped for lunch in an even smaller village, called Chullpas, which was a ridiculous experience. We were sitting under a tree opposite of the village and first had three stray dogs around us in hopes to get some food but then we were joined by an older Bolivian woman who also wanted to mooch off us. We later gave her the leftovers but then about 10-15 kids came over with bowls and forks and were wanting food and sweets from us also. I only had an orange and a few cookies left so I gave them to the kids but they were watching us for about 30 minutes and waiting for more. Apparently other trekking companies give them candies, which is bad since they can't afford dental care & their teeth rot. We also tried taking photos of these kids but they would run away every time a camera or phone was out. We were told it was because their parents told them that photos taken would take their souls but we asked them and they were saying they wanted money for photos. Johnny also said that the kids in this town just weren't very respectful and he urged us to continue on. We continued walking for a couple more hours and made our way to the village of Potolo, about 20 minutes before the approaching thunderstorm made it to where we stayed the second night.
The thunderstorm in Potolo was very short lived but we arrived around 3:30 so we had a lot of the day left. So Michelle and I played the card game s***head with Toby & Dora for about two hours and then took a little stroll around before dinner. Johnny prepared another great meal for us and then later we all played the game, f*** the dealer. Seriously such great names in English for games we have. The next morning we woke up at 6am to eat breakfast and catch a local minibus/collectivo to Sucre which was a little over three hours. So there were seven gringos, a guide and about seven locals jammed into this collectivo for the drive back. Once we made it back to Sucre via collectivo and taxi we got back to Condor Cafe around 10:30am. So after we all go to Mercado Central to buy cookies, fresh juice, and our new favorite spicy spice called locoto. We then came back for our last included lunch at Condor Cafe which was quinoa soup and veggie lasagna, soooo good. Then since we all had different travel plans we split ways.
I am in Condor Cafe now typing this up and killing time before our night bus to Cochabamba. Overall though Sucre is a great city but no need to spend much time here and it wasn't the most challenging or rewarding trek but still worth doing. We spent 600 Bolivianos (~$87 USD) with Condor Trekkers but could have gotten cheaper with other agencies but Condor is great because they actually give money and do good for the community.
So I had to change my entry to this blog a bit because our night bus never happened last night. We got about 15 minutes out of town and our bus broke down. Our drivers were underneath the bus in the dark trying to fix the problem for about an hour and a half while another bus was supposed to pick us up, but it never came. Some passengers were able to hop onto another passing bus but Michelle and I were stuck until we could get our backpacks from the storage area below. So basically after all the s*** we have gone through with bus travel, we decided to go back to Sucre and find a flight to Cochabamba. We were stopped outside of a police checkpoint so we went to ask about taxis back to the city and was told that taxis came through, but they don't. So again we asked a police officer for a taxi and instead got a local guy to drive us back to Sucre. So we wasted 50 Bolivianos on the bus and paid our driver another 50. The next day we woke up from Sucre and hauled ass to the airport so we could try finding a flight. We paid 30 Bolivianos for a taxi there since it is kind of outside the city. I had seen a tour agency advertising for 204 Bolivianos for a flight which is not a bad price but out of the four airlines, EcoJet was the only one with availability. So we paid 315 Bolivianos (~$45 USD) for a flight plus 11 Bolivianos for airport tax. The flight was 30 minutes and it was a fantastic and incredibly easy process to fly. We are spoiled now and are trying to avoid long buses now haha. So again for travelers to Bolivia, spend the extra money for flights. They are easier, safer, and quicker. So finally we made it to Cochabamba!