Buenos Aires to La Paz, part one

This leg of the trip involved a 2 week G Adventures tour, creatively called Buenos Aires to La Paz, going from Buenos Aires in Argentina to La Paz in Bolivia. I’m splitting it into a few posts since it was a pretty hectic/ crazy trip!

After our few days in the sweltering heat of Iguazú, I think we were quite happy to be moving on from Argentina…

Our tour was fully booked which meant us and 14 strangers travelling in close quarters for a couple of weeks. This was the first YOLO tour we’d done and we were quite worried about firstly, the type of people we’d be with and secondly, the accommodation. On both fronts we were pleasantly surprised! Or at least not completely disgusted…

The group was a real mix of nationalities and ages which made for interesting characters; some of whom I got on well with and others whom I avoided like the plague. As expected with such a group of 16, there were bound to be conflicts here and there though overall I think we all got on pretty well.

The tour started from Hotel Carsson in Buenos Aires- I was definitely not a fan of this place. The first room they gave us didn’t have air con… Bear in mind it was an old hotel with little to no ventilation and 35 degrees outside! The second room was only mildly better but not worth complaining about. Not that it mattered much in the end anyway since we had an early start the next day.

First thing in the morning we flew to Salta, Argentina. Annoyingly, boarding was delayed an hour and then by the time we had all gotten onto the plane the rainstorm overhead was too strong to allow us to take off! Cue an hour snoozing on the tarmac…

Salta was where the first empanadas or salteñas were made. And, man, were they delicious! We ate a LOT of them. The steak in Argentina is, of course, excellent. And so so so cheap. When we compared it to London prices for something similar we were always shocked at the difference! (I also think it’s the reason why we ate, drank and shopped so freely… Everything seemed so reasonable!)

Whilst in Salta, we got peer pressured into going on a wine tour to Cafayate. Not particularly worth it’s $30USD price tag, we spent most of the day sweating in a minibus and stopping to look at rock formations… The wine tour itself maybe took 30 minutes and was in Spanish so I didn’t really appreciate much of it at all! The wine was pretty good. Or so I was told- not exactly a wine connoisseur here…

That’s not blusher, that’s the wine…

Rock formations! Actually this is a dried out river…


Salta itself really came alive at night. The streets were full of families, street performers and stores selling yummy popcorn and other things. There was a real fiesta vibe! The Hotel de la Candelaria where we stayed for 2 nights was great. We definitely breathed a sigh of relief when we saw it since it gave us an idea of what the rest of the places would be like!

The following morning was another early start. We had a 7 hour bus ride across the Andes and the Chilean border to San Pedra de Atacama. The bus ride itself wasn’t too awful. The scenery was interesting, the roads were crazy. We passed by an overturned lorry in the middle of nowhere (no idea how the driver was gonna get out of that one…). It was the 2 hours spent at the border crossing which drove everyone up the wall thoughl! The Chilean border control refused to process everyone’s bags until the passports of everyone there had been stamped (and there were a few buses trying to cross at that time) which meant a lot of pointless hanging about. The high altitude did nothing to improve the crowd’s mood and whilst we waited and queued, you could see people- and quite a number of our group- drop like flies as the lack of oxygen got the better of them… Mostly, I felt bad for our bus driver who was trying to help speed things along but who ended up getting whinged at a lot!

Be that as it may, we were on our way after a couple of hours and on to San Pedro. Pulling up to the town it literally looks like a shanty town. Mud brick walls, corrugated iron roofs, it looked like a s***hole. For reals. Although what can you expect from a tiny pop up town in the middle of the desert? 

There was basically one street where all the tourists went to. Along there every building was either a shop, restaurant or hostel with many people of the street trying to entice you into their establishments. It was a complete tourist trap. I wasn’t exactly a big fan. Prices of food and accommodation were inflated just because people had nowhere else to go! The funny thing was that one of the reasons we wanted to go here was because it’s meant to have some of the clearest skies and we wanted to try to take star trail pictures but there were clouds continuously overhead. I genuinely thought it would rain! It didn’t, and hasn’t for 100 years though… 

We did try to make the most of the stop and we went on a sand boarding trip into the desert.

Our group of sand boarders!

I only fell on my butt a few times! Or a lot depending on how you look at it. Either way, it was a far more successful trip than when I tried snowboarding…

Next stop, Bolivia!


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