Tupiza is a city in the Potosi Department, southern Bolivia, and is at an approximate elevation of 2850 metres. Tupiza is characterized by its rather barren landscape, and the red escarpments that jump up from the barren grey terrain. The temperature is fairly mild, and nights can become cold. The river provides for the agriculture, which is a warm and welcoming sight, and it is open to flash floods once in a while. Tupiza’s economy relies on farming and mining in the area, as well as tourism.
The city is lively, with a population of 25,000, however, there’s an unhurried pace of life here. Take it easy, wander the streets, and let your body adjust to the altitude before heading off on your next adventure. Indeed, from Tupiza you can enjoy horseback riding, hiking, and even taking a tour to the Salar de Uyuni. Below is our Tupiza travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
TOUR OF THE SURROUNDING AREA – There are some companies that offer tours of the surrounding landscape. Whether by jeep or horseback, these tours take you to some of the better spots to see in the surrounding area. There is also a tour that involves the history of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. A horseback trip costs around $30.
UYUNI SALT FLAT TOUR – Take a 4X4 jeep tour and visit Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, almost 3700 metres above sea level. The Salar was formed when the waters of Lake Tauca (one of the largest lakes which covered the Altiplano) evaporated and left behind salt that came from the nearby mountains. The salt is formed in layers, in some places up to 120 metres deep. The surface of the salt is around 10-20 centimetres thick and in the cold weather dries out to form a hard crust, yet below this the salt is covered with water. The Salar withstands vehicles driving over it, which is how you can now tour the huge expanse of salt: being here it’s as if you’re on another planet. 4x4 trips visit the salt flat, lakes, and geysers. You can even stay overnight in the 'Salt Hotel’ where the bedrooms, common areas, and even the chairs and tables are all made of salt!
MIRADOR CRISTO HIKE – There’s an impressive Jesus statue looking down on Tupiza, and you can enjoy a panoramic view when you get to the top! Make sure you walk slowly, as the altitude can leave you short of breath. Be safe and don’t go alone or at dusk.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
The surrounding area of Tupiza offers some great sights and views. It is worthwhile to head out on one of the many tours offered, taking you into the wild terrain surrounding Tupiza.
If you’re heading north on your travels, this is the ideal place to take a tour of the Salar de Uyuni.
Most of the good places to eat are located on Calle Florida. A few streets away is the Mercado Central (Av. Regimiento Chichas) is where you can find the best local gastronomy, and a huge variety of products for great prices. Mix with the locals, sample the fresh food, and find yourself a bargain!
If you’re after typical Bolivian food, go to Muxsa (Plaza Independencia), for good-value, local cuisine. They also have some international dishes if you want something different. Another place to try is El Alamo Tupiza (Calle Avaroa) for Mexican food, and a cool décor, Texan-style. For pizza and Italian cuisine, check out Milan Centre (Av. Chichas).
There isn’t too much nightlife in Tupiza. One place to check out is Diver Gente (Pasaje Concepcion Vacaflor), located right near the central plaza of the town. They have lots of disco lights and a DJ to control the music. This is usually the place that attracts the most attention for party people.
Average highs throughout the year are around 18 degrees Celsius, and in June, July and August this drops to about 14 degrees Celsius. The average low is around 6 or 7 degrees Celsius, and during the colder months of June, July and August the low drops below freezing temperatures.
There are bus connections with many places in the area, including Uyuni, Cochabamba, Sucre, and La Paz. The bus terminal in Tupiza is just a 10-minute walk from the main square. From Sucre, the bus journey is 8 hours, and from La Paz, around 14 hours.
There is also the option to travel between Uyuni and Tupiza by train, but in doing so you will to miss out on the scenic journey. Be sure to check the train schedule, as departures are infrequent.
The airport is situated 16km from the city. Direct flights from La Paz with BoA take 1 hour and 5 minutes.
Some of the good places to stay are located near the bus terminal and train station. Tupiza offers hotels, hostels, and decent prices - it all depends on what type of accommodation you are looking for.
Hotel La Torre (Av Regimiento Chichas 220) has welcoming staff and it is well-kept and clean. They offer a good breakfast, a guest kitchen (although it closes at 8pm), and a nice terrace. It’s also a great place to book tours and get information about what to do in the area.
Hotel Mitru (Av Regimiento Chichas 187) is pleasant and comfortable – here you can enjoy a bit of luxury, with an outdoor pool area where you can chill out. Centrally-located, and with helpful staff.
When choosing your tours, make sure that the tours are safe and the guides know what they are doing. Always make smart choices when out on the tours, and do your research before so that you know what type of adventures are on offer.