Tarija-Tupiza or Tupiza-Tarija by buz

Every year the tourist flow in Tupiza is increasing and the city is positioning itself as the best gateway to the Salar of Uyuni. And that’s a well-deserved title. Besides the classic south Lipez and Salar route the countryside of Tupiza is a gorgeous region, a real life far west movie set. Most of the few travelers visiting Tarija are either going or coming from Tupiza. I say few because not a lot of foreigners include Tarija in their route even if Tarija is a classical holiday destination for Bolivians. But that’s off the topic, maybe one day I’ll write a post “why is there no foreign tourist in Tarija?”.

Anyway let’s get to it. Here is a table listing the bus companies working between Tupiza and Tarija, timetables and fares.

Company Tarija – Tupiza Tupiza – Tarija Price
Juarez Bus cama, brand new bus with air conditionning 21:00 22:00 85Bs
Juarez bus standard 20:30 20:00 70Bs
Diamante 20:30 20:30 (to check) 60Bs
Sama 20:30 20:30 (to check) 60Bs
Trans Narvaez 10:00 or 21 :00 10:00 or 21 :00 50Bs
Trufi (shared cab for 6 passengers) Every trufi leaves in the morning once the cab is full. Every trufi leaves in the morning once the cab is full. 100Bs

The bus drive lasts about 6h and the road is now in good condition. By trufi, 4h30. Don’t believe Lonely Planet when they talk about the road, they’re talking about the old one which indeed was really dangerous.

The most comfortable one is by far the Juarez. Worth the extra money. Narvaez offers a bus in the morning, every day of the year. Great if you want to check out the landscape!

tajzara3If you’re travelling in a group, a good tip would be to buy all the seats in a trufi. That way you leave whenever you want and you can talk to the driver to make a stop in the Sama national park.  That way you’ll be able to enjoy the Tajzara lagoons and sand dunes on your way to Tupiza, or even make a stop in one of the rustic little villages on the road.



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Cost of living in Bolivia, a few prices examples

When I travel to a new country, one of the first things I do is to check prices of everything to get a better idea and avoid bad surprises and the famous tourist rate as much as I can. Here you have a list of prices so you’ll get an idea of the cost of living in Bolivia in 2015. I mixed a lot of stuffs but let’s start with the principal: the beer’s price!

7 Bs = 1 USD
7,5 Bs = 1 EUR

Beer in a pub (Huari 620ml) 20-30 bs
Beer in a shop (Huari 620ml) 13-15 bs
Singani bottle (local alcohol, much like grappa) 30-60 bs selon la marque et la qualité
Lunch at the market 7 – 15 bs selon le plat
Lunch in a common restaurant (lunches always include a soup, a dish of the day and generally a salad buffet, a soft drink and a desert) 12 – 25 bs selon la gamme du restaurant
A dish in a fancier/western style restaurant 50 Bs
Empenada 2-3 Bs
Bus ticket for a ride within town 1,5 Bs (exact price depends of the city)
Taxi ride Taxis don’t use taximeter so it’s always better to agree on the price with the driver. Prices depends obviously of the length of the ride. For example from La Paz airport to the city center it will cost around 60Bs, same goes with Santa Cruz. Tarija is a smaller city so for a ride within town the fare is 5bs per person. Yep, per person, if you’re 3 people expect 15bs. Doesn’t make much sense to me but that’s how they operate here!
Bus Tarija – La Paz 80 Bs
Bus Tarija – Tupiza 80 Bs
Flight Tarija – Cochabamba 300 Bs
Flight Tarija – La Paz 450 Bs
1 minute call cellphone to cellphone 1 Bs
1 sms 0,20 Bs
A used Toyota corolla 1984 (the classic bolivian taxi) 4000-5000 USD
Kia Cerrato 2014 25000 USD
Chevrolet Tracker 2003 10000 USD
Flat 1 room in the city center 200 to 300 USD / month if furnished

Here you go! The general rule is that every locally produced goods are cheaper than in europe (restaurant, food, transportation, …) but everything else is really more expensive (car, cellphone, computer, cameras, etc etc).

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How to buy a bolivian SIM card for your phone

Even if it’s really nice to log off from the world during a trip, one has to admit it’s sometimes really useful to check emails, look up for deal or activities or hotel in a new city or simply to have a local number to be reached at.

In a lot of countries, the easiest way to cope with this problem is buy a prepaid SIM card. Unfortunatly in Bolivia it’s not that simple because new numbers must be registered by the buyer. A bolivian citizen can do that over the phone (if you have a bolivian friend to help you with that, it’s better!) but for a foreigner it’s a bit more complex.

First you have to buy the SIM card and then go to the official agency of the phone operator with copies of your passport and ask to register your number. If you don’t register it, they’ll cut the line after a week or so.

The good news is that even with a simple prepaid card you can easily access internet (if you’re tolerant about speed and data transfert). I would recommand a Tigo prepaid card (10 Bs) because they it’s the best solution for prepaid internet, they offer a 2 Bs pack which give you 55mo for a day. Obviously it’s useless to watch youtube but quite enough to check your mail or logon to TripAdvisor to look for an hotel (or an activity, Valle de los condores is now first activity on TripAdvisor, yey! 😉 ). You just buy this pack the day you need it.

One last thing : bolivian frequencies for cellphone are the sames as american ones. This means that some european or asian cellphones can’t catch 3G here and get stuck in edge. Most of the Sony’s have this issue, better check if yours is compatible.

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Get in and get out of Tarija Airport

A good trick to know for those who reach Tarija by plane is how to get to the city center. The airport is really small and located in town so it’s quite easy. Also, Tarija is one of the safest city in Bolivia so you don’t have to worry like in La Paz for example. Using a cab, it will take you 10 to 15 minutes.

Get out of the airport

You have 3 simples ways to get from the aiport to your hotel in the center:

  • Take one the airport taxis waiting in front of the door. It’s the easiest but also the most expensive solution. Around 50 Bs to the city center.
  • Another way which I always use myself is to walk out of the airport parking. Just by walking those 200m you will exit the “taxi airport” zone and you’ll be able to catch a regular taxi at his normal fare (4 or 5 Bs / person. Yep in Tarija the price depends on how many passengers use the cab!). A lot of locals use this trick so you just have to follow the lead.
  • A third also really easy solution is to catch a bus. Again you’ll have to walk out of the parking but now you’ll have to cross the avenue in order to catch a bus going to the center. Any bus saying “Mercado central” or “Palacio” will do the trick. Almost all of them go to the city center so you won’t have to wait more than a few minutes. The price of the ride is 1,5 Bs or 1 Bs if you’re a student (or young enough to look like one).

If you’re not confortable with those options and you’re planning on doing a trek in Valle de los Condores you can also contact us with your flights informations, we’ll come to get you at the airport!

Get to the airport

To get to the airport here again the easiest way is to take a taxi. Ask your hotel to call one, here again the price will be 5 Bs/person if the taxi drops you at the entrance of the parking. Most of the taxis will do so by themselves because they can’t operate in the airport zone but it’s always safer to tell them to stop there so there will be no surprises at the end.

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How to cross the Argentina-Bolivia border (Tarija – Bermejo – Salta)

A frequent question from visitors of the Condor’s Valley is how to reach Argentina from Tarija. Tarija is culturally really close from his big neighbour. Geographically too and many choose to use Tarija as a gateway to Argentina and reach Salta.

You have several options here:

  • Take a direct bus Tarija – Salta. It’s the best confort/price solution. For 220 Bs. And 7 or 8 hours later, you are in Argentina ready to devour a half-cow to lunch because the trip is really comfortable. Unfortunately, there only are three buses a week, Tuesday and Thursday or Sunday in the direction Tarija – Salta. Monday, wednesday or friday from Salta to Tarija. Tickets are for sale in the buses terminals in Tarija or Salta at the counters from the company Juarez.
  • Using the express service by the Dragon Rojo. It’s the fastest solution, the most expensive but also the less comfortable. From the center of Tarija (calle Sucre et Avaroa, in front of the supermarket Urkupiña) a shuttle leaves every days to Salta. More precisely, a mini bus conducts you to the frontier post and taxis wait for the travelers in the Argentinean side to continue the trip.Count 3h from Tarija to the frontier (Bermejo) and 3h in taxi to Salta. If the ride in the Bolivian part is pretty comfortable, you’ll have to pray to don’t have to share the little taxi with too many people. Count 250 Bs., a departure at about 8 p.m. and an arrival at about 3 in the morning.
  • The most backpacker solution is going to the buses terminal in Tarija and finding a trufi taxi (collective taxi, 30 Bs.) which leaves to Bermejo. There are every time, you just have to approach to the terminal to hear “Bermejo Bermejo !”. When arrived in Bermejo, you have to pass the frontier in a small boat, take an other drive to Oran, and then a bus to Salta. It’s the most economical solution, but coming a connection after an other obviously takes more time. Count 30 Bs. From Tarija to Bermejo, 1 or 2 Bs. to cross the frontier in motorized small boat, 40 argentinean pesos from Aguas Blancas (frontier city in the Argentinean side) to Oran and about 120 argentinean pesos from Oran to Salta. There is a lot of connections at each stage. Mosquitos stings on the quay from Bermejo to Aguas Blancas are free. By the way, local people say that mosquitos only bite the city strangers and that the local people are spared. I recommend this solution to the one who has some time. Bermejo is maybe not the most beautiful city in the world, but this frontier city a little busted has a particular charm which deserves to be seen. Moreover this option lets you leave from Tarija in the day and enjoy the wonderful road Tarija – Bermejo where you’ll pass from the aridity of the central valley of Tarija to the luxuriance and sugar cane fields for as far as the eye can see.
  • I almost do forget, there is a last option : flying. Those lines just open (via BOA for instance, maybe Amaszonas), and for a little more than 200 USD it’s possible to go from Tarija to Salta.

To sum up : in bus if you are lucky and that you precisely leave a Thursday or a Monday, with the Dragon Rojo if you are in a hurry, and taking a stage by Bermejo if you have some time or that you prefer save on your travel.

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Meet unforgettable culture and people in the heart of the Bolivian Andes

boliviaNew ecotourism destination, the Valley of Condors is home to a large colony of majestic condors – the symbol of the Andes. This hidden gem is located in the region of Tarija, 3 hours from Argentina and 5 hours to Tupiza, the gateway to the Salar of Uyuni. The Valley of Condors is a great destination for any traveler who likes get off the beaten tracks and is looking for an authentic experience in South America.

We offer 1, 2, 3 to 4 days treks to discover the condor, an opportunity to meet the people that lives in the community and a one day tour in the wine country and circuits in south Bolivia. At every step our main focus is sharing human experiences so you’ll get a chance to know the people living in the exceptional sceneries of the Andes.

Steep trails where you feel the condor graze you, breathtaking landscapes, isolated and friendly villages, authentic cultural traditions… take the leap !

Book your trek now!

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