Tupiza – the wild-west town of Bolivia

Tupiza in Bolivia
Tupiza in Bolivia

Tupiza is a dusty, wild-west Bolivian town. It is surrounded by gorgeous red mountains, desert and cactus. It is a city in Potosi Department. It has an elevation of about 3160 m and the population is around 25.000.

The climate is mild year-round, with most of the rain falling between November and March. From June to August, days are hot, dry and clear, but nighttime temperatures can drop to below freezing.Economically, the town depends on agriculture and mining.

Tupiza has a lot to offer the traveller. Explore the surrounding hills and canyons on horseback which is what I did, experience the mad Bolivian circus that visits the town from time to time or just take a few days out to read books in the pretty central square or by the hotel pool.

Tupiza is also a good stop before heading down to Uyuni – that’s how I did the journey.

Podcast: Bolivia

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In this Podcast from Bolivia I head from Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca (birthplace of the Incas) to La Paz, the capital (and highest capital city in the world), where I go on a mountain biking trip down the most dangerous road in the world – the Death road. Finally, I head to Potosi (highest city in the world), then onto the Salar de Uyuni salt flats in the south of Bolivia

Podcast, Bolivia

Photos of the Salar de Uyuni salt flats


Video of Salar de Uyuni salt flats

Photos of Potosi
Photos of the Death Road trip

Potosi, Bolivia

It is claimed Potosi is the highest city in the world at 4,090 m (13,420 feet). It lies beneath the Cerro de Potosi "” sometimes referred to as the Cerro Rico (“rich mountain”) "” a mountain popularly conceived of as being made entirely of silver ore, which has always dominated the city.

Potosi, Bolivia

The Spanish founded Potosi­ in 1545, then set about plundering the wealth of Cerro Rico using slave labour. Hundreds of thousands of people are thought to have died as much from the altitude and cold as from the harsh conditions inside the mines. Potosi soon produced fabulous wealth, becoming one of the largest cities in the Americas and the world with a population exceeding 200,000 people.

Potosi­ is now a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. I spent a couple of nights here, struggling for breath due to the altitude, and wondering around the town’s 2,000 colonial buildings, and a couple of the museums including the old mint.

I didn’t go in the mine, I was too scared.


More photos of Potosi