April 24, 2011

Villa Tunari, in the heart of Bolivia

Villa Tunari is known for being the gateway to the tropical Chapare and Cochabamba. To reach this city must descend from the mountains of Corani over 3600 meters (11800 ft) to reach 300 meters (984 ft), passing through the spurs of the Cordillera Oriental and many other places where nature remains intact. With a population of 4000 inhabitants, Villa Tunari is established as an important city for tourism and trade.

It is 166 km (104 mi) from Cochabamba and 312 km (195 mi) from Santa Cruz so the trip can be on the move itself or by bus from both Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. The passage to this place round the 30 to 40 Bs (6 - 7 $us) depending on the season, buses leave from the lagoon Alalay although it can take a bus interdepartmental and stay in this place.

Once there are many places to stay, ranging from 20 Bs (3 $us) to luxury suites in first class hotels. You can also hire guides for tours of the parks, rivers or learn to navigate the most visited sites.

The restaurants offer first being its specialty fish dishes in place as the pacu, surubí and gold, but also offers local and international cuisine.

Parks Machia and Carrasco National Park are close to Villa Tunari, in both there are game reserves where you can live with animals, trees and shrubs do not found elsewhere and hike in direct contact with nature. Even in the Parque Machia is a shelter for animals in captivity and in danger of extinction with prices from Bs 4 (50 cents).  There are also canoeing and kayaking, Jungle and Lizards are parks with vines and trees.

Also in Google Earth => Villa Tunari.kmz

For the trip is advisable to wear sunscreen, hat, insect repellent, light clothing and comfortable shoes, closed.

April 19, 2011

Samaipata: the missing piece of Santa Cruz

Located in the buttresses of the Cordillera Oriental, Samaipata, which in Quechua means Rest in the heights, is another destination that no tourist can jump on a tour of Bolivia. It is just 120 km from Santa Cruz de la Sierra and two hours drive from here. Its height is approximately 1650 meters (5413 ft.) with a population of 9739 people between Bolivians and foreigners from different countries. 

The journey starts in Oruro square, located at Av. Grigota and "3er anillo" in Santa Cruz City, where taxis and minibuses go to this location, the price is about Bs. 25 ($us. 4), but may vary depending on passenger demand . On the way you can see how the landscape and vegetation change from the eastern plains and the mountains as we approach Samaipata. 

Road to Samaipata
Two hours later you reach the town itself where there are hotels of all price, restaurants with typical food and stores to stock up, you can visit the town for shopping, watch the architecture or eat and then go out to visit nearby strong, a waterfall to bathe, Amboró National Park, Bella Vista and others. 

To visit the fort, you can hire a taxi, rent a horse or just walk to the place that is not far away. On the way mountains are capricious ways, the people and the Natural Reserve. From the entrance are available for the tour guides through this huge rock where once the Incas and other pre-Columbian cultures settled. 

The villagers also recommend visiting some waterfalls that are more or less near the main road where there are wells and swimming pools to cool, giant ferns, unique animals and insects and a variety of vegetation.

A little further away is the Amboró National Park and Bella Vista, to visit there are excursions in town and run along the south of the site or taxis. It is necessary to ask first because conditions can change depending on the season. They are ideal places to observe plant and animal wealth in the area.

Muela del Diablo (Wisdom Tooth), Amboró Park

Also in Google Earth => Samaipata.kmz

For this trip it is advisable to bring sunscreen, insect repellent, walking shoes, cash because there is no cash, loose clothing with sleeves and mesh into the water.

April 16, 2011

A land of contrasts: Salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni is billed as the largest salt desert in the world with a total area of 12000 km ² and an average height of 3,650 meters (11,975ft), placed in Potosí to 170Km (105 Mi.) from the capital and is visited each year for more than 60000 tourists from around the world. 

In wet weather the salt is covered with a layer of water and acts as a mirror
There are many ways to get here: by train to Uyuni, minibuses and buses on the road, or plane to Corporate TAM from the cities of Sucre, La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. 

The trip can last 7 hours from La Paz, depending on whether it is rainy season, but can also be reached from Villazon to Uyuni which are observed in unforgettable landscapes where even brought some of them seem from another planet. Once in the town of Uyuni, touristic packages sellers come to one offering these packages from Bs 150 to Bs 850 ($us. 30 - 130) depending on the number of days and number of attractions you want to visit. Packages can include lodging, food, transfer to nearby areas, entry to the island's fish-Incahuasi found in half of the salt desert where cactus grow even 10 meters high and even souvenirs made by the comunity members. 

The accommodation can be in the Hotel of salt which is made ​​almost entirely with salt. Once purchased the package,tourists usually visit the train cemetery which is located within walking distance of Uyuni, in this place you can see the first trains arrived in Bolivia that were used to transport ore to foreign ports in Chile and Peru. It is also common to visit Colchani, a village on the shores of the salt, these people uses salt blocks for their houses in this sector and also you can learn the process of extracting salt in small cones that are lost in the immensity of the desert. 

Also in Google Earth => Salar de Uyuni

A little farther from the volcano Tunupa is home of llamas, alpacas and other camelids, also in the way you can see flamingos in different sizes and colors. Already in the volcano are well preserved mummies which are the main attraction of this place. In this place are rustic restaurants where people can eat or eat something light. 

It is advisable to travel between April and October to hiking, biking, animal watching and others because in other months the salt becomes a reflecting pool where you can perform other activities. You should take dark sunglasses that cover all of the eyes to avoid problems with dust and salt, cap or hat, sunscreen, body lotion, gloves, warm jacket, a positioning mechanism (if possible), pills for height if applicable and of course a camera.

April 13, 2011

The magnificent Titicaca Lake

Located 4000 meters above sea level, the Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, each year thousands of tourists and visitors from around the country and the world come to Copacabana to see another side of the country or pilgrimage to the church, whose patron saint is the Virgin of Copacabana.

The tour usually starts very early near the general cemetery of La Paz from where buses, minibuses and small cars departs to this city of contrasts. The passage can vary between 20 and 25 Bs. (3 or 4 $us) depending on date and Bolivian demand for tickets. Once on board, transport rises from 3600 meters from the city of La Paz to 4000 in El Alto and then continue their journey through the highlands where there are snow-capped montains as the Illimani, Huayna Potosi, Mururata and others.

At the same time we can see several towns on the road as Batallas -cradle of "marraqueta"- where you can visit some local fairs on weekends, these are tubers such as potatoes, chuño, tunta, cheese, fresh milk, tools, cereal and others. 

Also in Google Earth => Copacabana

Then is Tiquina, which is a must for all, in this place the tourism must cross the lake in boats that offer their services for 4 Bs. (1 $us) In this section you can see the Illimani from the lake, obviously a memorable post for many. On the other side is the market with its dining place where the locals offer a variety of typical local dishes at reasonable prices.

The tour will continue along the lake till Copacabana. Once there, there are many places to visit as the temple of Copacabana, the calvary has a wonderful view of the city, beach and lake, there are also different restaurants offering national and international dishes of trout and other fishes. In the city and principal square, enterprises offer tours of the lake and its surroundings and others.

The trip can be done in one day, but it is advisable to have a whole weekend to visit the Sun Island, Moon Island and other sites that require additional travel.