Following The Train Tracks To San Juan

One for the railway aficionados…

Following my eventful blast across the salars and subsequent New Year’s debauchery in Uyuni it was time to hit the road again or, more precisely, the railway tracks. Bolivia has a veritable maze of train lines, relics from its colonial past when, like most of South America, it was being ravaged for its mineral wealth (and still kind of is…). The boom days of the railways have long since past though, leaving behind semi abandoned ghost towns and once proud steam engines slowly rusting away in the sand. My route to San Juan hugging and sometimes on the railway line was like entering a Cuban style time warp and, combined with more infinitely expansive vistas, made for a classically Bolivian ride…

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Just outside Uyuni you reach the famed train ‘graveyard’.

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An absolute treasure trove.

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And I couldn’t resist a cheeky clamber into the rusting carcass of one of the many steam engines.

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If big rivets are your thing, this is definitely the place for you

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But before long the place is swarming with jeep tourists doing their thing, time to move on…

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Back onto the fringes of the salar

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Mostly dry…

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But sometimes not, calling for a quick stint on the tracks

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Llamas, the novelty has yet to wear off…

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Passing through the near ghost town of Julaca was like walking onto a movie set

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Everything left in place, untouched for a century

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With not a soul to be seen…

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Then onto the village of San Juan, a place of minimal significance for most, but a key stop for riders heading to Chile via the challenging ‘Lagunas route’, as it marks the last chance to stock up on provisions before hitting the desert. Still, hardly a shoppers paradise, with buying bread involving tracking down a women who may have baked some, being invited in for tea and then being told to come back at 4pm before the ‘rush’…

All in all a good little jaunt before things really kick off on the Lagunas route, the calm before the storm as it were…

Route Info:

See here

1.5 days; Uyuni to Rio Grande 66km (headwind), Rio Grande to San Juan 58km (tailwind)

3 responses to “Following The Train Tracks To San Juan

  1. Hi mate
    More incredible photos, what a place, I love the water thing, straight out of an old western! Did you see clint Eastwood ! Also the salt flats are so unusual and I like your view on the jeep tourists, time for the Mexican to spit out the chewing tobacco !
    Cheers, nige

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. HI Paul, fascinating read great pictures, I have learned so much from your adventure. Thank you and continued good luck. Sheila.

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