We spend the first day beating the pavement south towards the border, setting ourselves up for an adventures riders dream ride on day two as the road we travel clings or more accurately is cut out of the side of a mountain high above a river. We push on to Tarija, Bolivia’s wine country, before following the footsteps of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid near the town they were said to have taken their last breaths. Next we ride the Uyuni Salt Flats where we’ll leave plenty of time to take some crazy photos. On we go exploring two cities listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. We learn about the life of Bolivian miners before we pick up the trail of another famous rebel, Ernesto “El Che” Guevara. From here the ride back home is a perfect mix of gravel and curvy blacktop.
Trails End: Bandits & Badlands tour route
We’ll personally pick everyone up at the airport and settle you into a hotel in Santa Cruz. After dinner we have an informal orientation & prep session and a good night’s sleep.
Today’s the jump off day! We take the bikes on a 70km. (43 mile) roundtrip practice run up to the Jardin de las Delicias, a waterfall on the edge of Amboró National Park. Hanging bridge, dirt roads,, stream crossings, photo ops galore and a picnic lunch are just part of todays adventure. We’ll cap off the riding portion of the day with a cruise down some slab before to arriving to our hotel in the town of Abapo, located in the Chaco region of Bolivia.
From Abapo when continue straight south to Villamontes at the foot of the Cordillera range, gateway to the Pilcomayo river canyon and to the East, the thorn forests of the Chaco.
We follow the Pilcomayo river through the dramatic El Angosto (the Narrows) up through subtropical EntreRios, over the ridge and into the valley of Tarija, Bolivia´s wine country. Wine tasting, then dinner and lodging in the lovely city of Tarija.
Up the new hiway from Tarija and into the tunnel through el Sama mountain to the high plateau country. Then we start negotiating the narrow gravel switchbacks up and down the canyons on the road to picturesque Tupiza, the valley along the Argentine border where the Dakar rally crossed into Bolivia.
Part of today’s route follows the Dakar rally’s cross country route as the day begins by riding in the dry riverbed. We eat lunch in the village of Atocha not too far from where Butch and Sundance were gunned down. We climb to the high desert, reaching Uyuni, the old railroad town on the edge of the world’s largest salt flats.
We visit the train cemetery and ride the salt flats following the Dakar route to Isla Incahuasi, the only island in the salt lake with ancient cactus plants, some over 500 yrs old. Lots of photo ops, lunch in the Salt Hotel.
Leaving the salt plains we climb higher!! ...to the imperial city of Potosí, capital of 17th century Spanish America. The whole city is an architectural treasure listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. At over 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) it sits in the shadow of El Cerro Rico, the huge dome holding the richest silver mines in the history of the New World.
We explore the city of Potosi and the historic silver mines of Cerro Rico. Photo ops everywhere! ...from expansive mountainscapes to claustrophobic mine shafts.
An invigorating cruise over the mountain highway before decending to the city of Sucre, Bolivia´s judicial capital. It’s also known as “la ciudad blanca” (the white city) for the whitewashed walls of its pristine old city center. Its many churches and mansions from the 17th and 18th centuries still adorn the downtown streets.
Today we take the backroads to La Higuera , the lonely village where revolutionary Che Guevara was executed in 1967. The road to La Higuera is a pilgrimage of sorts for the more adventuresome historians and admirers of el Che. On the way, we’ll pass through Tarabuco and then stop for lunch in the town of Villa Serrano to admire what the town boasts as the world´s largest charango. Reaching La Higuera in the evening we stay at the rustic Casa del Telegrafista, once home to the telegraph operator that informed the authorities of el Che’s presence.
After a wonderful breakfast we visit the memorial room in the schoolhouse where el Che was executed. The days route takes us through the mountains of Vallegrande and down the old highway. By late afternoon we’ll arrive once again to our hotel in Santa Cruz where our journey began.
It’s a decompress day before returning to life as usual, so we relax the pace. We’ll spend the day exploring the city, it’s day of sight-seeing —last minute souvenir shopping, open markets and good food are a few of the options. To cap off the day and the tour we’ll celebrate with a “farewell” dinner in the evening.
We’ll take you from the hotel to catch your flight home at the airport. You’ll want to stretch out your sore backside before you board your flight and flip through your pics as you grin (and groan) thinking of all the fun that was had. From here it’s time to start planning your next adventure!