Drive from Tupiza to Altiplano

Drive from Tupiza to Altiplano

Around landscape full of colorful rocks

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Rating:Very good
Overcrowding: Below average
Difficulty: Very gentle
Time: 3:00 h

Except for Uyuni and San Pedro in Chile is Tupiza the third main starting point of „Salar tours“ to the enchanting southwestern Bolivian Altiplano. During this first stage, you will enjoy not only the views of the beautiful rock formations Sillar in the valley Palala, but also distant views of Cordillera de la Lipez and the first four thousand meters high pass.

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Disinfection of jeeps

At the north end of town is a small military check-post where you will have to leave the vehicle for a while and the soldiers will „disinfect“ the wheels of your jeep. It is of course nonsense, but there is a fee is collected for it.

Disinfection of jeeps

The entrance to quebrada Palala

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Three roads lead to the north – to Potosi, Uyuni and our road leading to San Vicente.

Our dusty road turns west after a while and passes through the valley, which was formed by river Palala in the red rock ridge. Around us are beautiful eroded rock towers.

The entrance to quebrada Palala

The beginning of quebrada Palala

River Palala significantly changes its flow according to the season and its bed full of small pebbles is pretty wide here. Local scrub vegetation is favourite with numerous herds of livestock, mainly goats. Most famous local rock formations, however, are a few kilometers away.

The beginning of quebrada Palala

Rock castle

You can see on some mountain massifs that the erosion of rock towers just begins.

Rock castle

Driving to the outlook

The road separates from the riverbed in a moment and begins to rise in twists along the side ridge up to the barren hills. There are many cacti sticking out of shrubby vegetation along the way.

Driving to the outlook

The road to Altiplano

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The road finally rises to the first pass (3 720 m asl), from where there are amazing views of the fairy-tale forest of colorful rock towers El Sillar. Here is usually the first official stop for a photo shoot. If you ascend about 30 vertical meters up the path to the hill above the pass, a beautiful view back to the way you went through opens: on the left there is a wide valley of quebrada Palala and right before you colored ridges embracing Tupiza from all sides.

The road to Altiplano

Bolivian cacti

You will see lots of cacti all around – some of them grow here up to 2–3 meters.

Bolivian cacti

El Sillar - Bolivian Bryce Canyon

The most beautiful view is straight down to the colorful towers of El Sillar reminiscent of more well-known american Bryce Canyon. Walking trip from Tupiza between these towers belong among the most memorable experiences /however, unlike Bryce Canyon, you will not meet a single tourist here/.

El Sillar - Bolivian Bryce Canyon

Valley of the rock towers

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The whole area ofvalley of Palca is relatively large, so it is beyond human capability to walk everywhere in just one day.

Valley of the rock towers

Up to Altiplano

The road rises from here in a few twists in the slopes of barren hill towards Altiplano.

Up to Altiplano

Eroded slopes

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Looking back, it is almost breathtaking to see so extremely eroded slope, along which this road leads. You can also see the first outlook pass and small hill over it.

Eroded slopes

Barren Altiplano

After a while, the last remnants of the „Wild West“ landscape around Tupiza disappears and the jeep is still rising in barren slopes to the summit of this ridge separating these two worlds.

Barren Altiplano

Altiplano

Navigate on the map

The road peaks at (4 365 m asl) and then falls deep back to the river. There are barren ridges as far as you can see.

Altiplano


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