Calama

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
1
73
300
Trip End Nov 04, 2008


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Where I stayed
Claris Loa - $5k pesos pp - shared bath - no breakfast

Flag of Chile  ,
Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Well...we made it through another long trip. This will probably be the last "long distance" bus ride that we take which is good news. The bad news is that from now until USA, the distances will be smaller but the time on buses will not be less - roads will be worse and the vehicles older, so mixed feeling.

Anyway, the reason for coming to Calama was to find a bus that would take us to Bolivia. We already found out that the famous train Calama to Uyuni (Bolivia) stopped working four months ago. We also had information on a bus company called "Buses Manchego" that travelled to Uyuni, however we had not been successful in trying to contact them on the phone (probably meaning they no longer existed).

So we risked travelling to Calama to find out instead of going direct to Iquique (about 400 kms further North of Chile). We knew for certain there were buses to Bolivia from Iquique, but that would add a couple of days to our target city of Uyuni and the South of Bolivia. In any case we wanted to see the Chuquicamata mine which is next to Calama, so there was something to do if there were no buses.

So what happened?

As usual in these trips, things result totally differently to expected:
- Chuquicamata is closed since end of February to Tourism as they are changing the "Mirador" (place where you look at the mine). So tours are only to the smaller mine of Nicanor Cosic, and transport is normally via taxi.

- There are 2 bus companies travelling to Uyuni from Calama, which is good news. We decided on "Frontera del Norte" buses which has a strange arrangement but which makes sense. Buses only leave on Wednesday and Sunday (which was good for us arriving on a Tuesday..if not we would have to decide whether to stay until Sunday in a town with little to offer).

The bus will leave Calama at 10 p.m. and travel to the frontier with Bolivia until 3 a.m. At this time we are allowed to stay on the bus to keep sleeping as the Bolivian frontier post does not open until 8 a.m. It will be an interesting sleep at 4.000 meters height and probably quite cold.

Then at 8 a.m. everyone passes the frontier (probably not the fastest admin there) and gets on board a bolivian bus to Uyuni. So basically all the travellers on the bus from Calama occupy the bus just emptied by travellers going from Uyuni to Calama.

All sounds great, but lets just wait and see how it works out...we have everything prepared for a long cold (and hot) wait at the frontier, sleeping bags, winter clothing, food and water, book, backgammon...

Anyway. Hopefully we will be able to send some pictures when we are on "the other side", but this might take a couple of days.

As a last note, all of you in Europe who are just clinging to your armchairs to see Eurovision one more time, our vote goes with the Spanish entry which rightly puts Eurovision where it should be...here is the video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0mB1cnua14
Slideshow Report as Spam

Comments

fraenzi
fraenzi on

Good luck
I wish you good luck by passing the border! Fränzi

parkerich
parkerich on

Contact details for Blue Line?
Hi guys,

Your blog is great. We´re currently in Uruguay but heading up to Uyuni in the next few weeks. You seem to have had a good experience with Blue Line, how did you find them, do you have any contact details for them?

Thanks in advance, enjoy your next adventures,

Rich and Gayle

veromarcos
veromarcos on

Re: Contact details for Blue Line?
Hello guys,

We compared several prices and companies which were recommended to us and finally went with Blue Line as they seemed the best quality for a bit more cash.

The trip was great and we definetly had better food and explanations than the rest of the trips that went for slightly cheaper.

We would recommend you go for 4 day trip if you can and request to stay the night at Chantani, visit the Mummies, the Palacio de Cantaros and walk up the volcano Tunupa. The rest of the groups dont get to do that.

The 4x4 cars can take up to 7 people plus driver, but very uncomfortably. We did it with 4 tourists (2 per seat), plus driver and cook.

If you go in a larger group, the cut the cook out and the driver cooks which is not a good idea most of the time as he is already quite busy.

Five passengers is ok with 3 in the middle seat and 2 behind.

Take plenty of water!

I kept a card from Blue line:
Telephone: (591-1) 693 35 46
Mobile: 724 11117
e-mail: blueday_54@hotmail.com

I think we put the price we paid on the travelpod if not we can look at our notes. In Blue line they dont play with discounts, they have the prices on the wall and it depends on the number of people you go in the 4x4.

They are just next to the train station of Uyuni (Avenida Ferroviaria 1)

Avoid 'Residencial Sucre' hotel!!!! Worst yet. Avenida was good.

Enjoy!

Marcos and Veronika

veromarcos
veromarcos on

Re: Re: Contact details for Blue Line?
Forgot to mention. We spoke Spanish so it was easy with the guide 'Grober'.

They speak English at the agency, but most drivers only speak a few words. Just worth mentioning.



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