Posted by: robinson2000 | April 13, 2011

Dinosaur Footprints & Wine Tasting

6th – 11th April

A short hop from the mining town of Potosi is the beautiful city of Sucre, a wonderfully clean and picturesque city located at a pleasant altitude of 2790 m, which makes for a perfect climate. We left Potosi after our day down the mines and caught the 7pm bus with a Canadian girl, called Mary, and a menagerie of Bolivian characters. The well padded lady sitting next to me decided to spread out a little and ended up leaning her full body weight against me for most of the journey, making my arm numb. The old lady sitting adjacent to Spicer also decided to liven up the ride by hiking up her skirt and urinating in the aisle! Luckily we had just arrived by this point so after side-stepping the pee, the four of us hailed a taxi to Hostel Amigos.

The following day we caught a short bus to an area that contained thousands of dinosaur footprints. The footprints were situated on a vertical cliff face, which was opposite a viewing area. After wondering how dinosaurs managed to walk up sheer cliffs, the helpful guide explained that originally the ground would have been flat, but due to the tectonic plate movements that formed the Andes mountain range, the ground has been forced up to where it lies today. The footprints were pretty difficult to spot but the guide made it really interesting. By far the best part was the huge life-size models of the dinosaurs, including a 36 m long Diplodocus and a full size Tyrannosaurus. 

For the next couple of days we soaked up the peaceful atmosphere that encapsulates Sucre. We ate cheaply at the market by gorging on the local delicacy, Saltenas, which are basically chicken pasties. Just south of the main plaza is the splendid Bolivar Park, which contains a monument and a miniature of the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triumph in honour of Francisco Argandona, who created much of the beautiful architecture in Sucre. On our final day in Sucre, Rice and I hired a couple of mountain bikes and followed a guide around some of the off-road trails in the area. The downhills were fantastic, skidding around bends and over some jumps as we struggled to keep up with our guide, who we later found out was a downhill champion. Once back in Sucre, we grabbed a quick shower and caught the 3.30pm bus to Tarija.

Tarija is in the south of Bolivia and is well-known for its fruits and wines. The 14 hour bus ride was basic but comfortable and dropped us off at the early hour of 5am, in the freezing cold morning. After the countless bus rides I´ve endured over the years, it’s still very hard to explain the feeling of being jolted from your sleep in the wee hours and being dumped out in the cold like a stray cat. You feel safe and protected on the bus, but rather than schedule the buses so that they arrive at a social hour, your kicked out half asleep, in a place you don´t know in sub-zero temperatures to fend for yourself. We found a reasonable hostel near the centre of Tarija and buried ourselves under the blankets to stay warm.

To be honest, I wasn´t a fan of Tarija. It was a nice enough place but there was very little to keep us occupied. We did head out one morning to a winery, La Casa Vieja, which is situated in a beautiful valley overlooking its vineyards. The restaurant was closed but they did let us sample some of the wines, but I wasn´t really in the mood for drinking wine at 9 in the morning. After the disappointing visit, we cut our loses and caught a 10 hour lunchtime bus back to Potosi. From Potosi, we had to change and catch another 6 hour bus to Uyuni. The scenery on the way to Uyuni was breathtaking as we left the mountains behind and drove across the salt flats that surround Uyuni. Uyuni is the jumping-off point for trips across the salt flats and into Chile.    

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  1. […] would be the final part of our travels together as Ben travelled 12 hours back to La Paz to fly home to spend some time with his family and Spice stayed […]

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