Whilst travelling around South America, Dan and his friend Kevin spent a few days in Tupiza, the ‘Wild West’ of Bolivia. Tupiza is a relaxed town surrounded by rugged scenery and the perfect place to live out your cowboy dreams like Butch Cassidy & the Sundance kid did over 100 years ago. With no horse riding experience at all, they set off on a two day cowboy adventure through some of the most dramatic scenery you can imagine.
We arrived late at night into the dusty, outback town of Tupiza in southern Bolivia not really knowing what to expect. We had heard it was known as the ‘Wild West’ of Bolivia so couldn’t wait to see what it actually looked like in the morning!
We rented a room so that we could get our heads down and a good night sleep before our early start on what we had been told was the best way to see the countryside around Tupiza… on horseback! Both my friend Kevin and I were complete rookies and this was our first time riding horses, so we were pretty excited for what lay ahead.
We made our way by taxi to a small farm on the edge of town where we met our guides and our horses. Between our basic Spanish, the guides basic English (so a good combination of Spanglish), a few hand signals & some cowboy hats we had completed our first ever crash course in horse riding and were ready to set out into the wild.
It definitely took us a couple of long, painful hours to actually learn how to ride the horses and how to not just be bounced around by it, but we did (sort of) eventually get the hang of it. Once we had got to this level we actually started to look around us and we were blown away by the scenery that we were riding through. It felt like we were on a film set of a Wild West movie.
The dusty, red landscape looked as if it had been carved out by hand and was truly remarkable location to be surrounded by. With the blistering sun beating down on us, I was seriously thankful for the cowboy hats that were supplied on our tour.
Our only respite from the heat came when passing through cracks in the hills, narrow passages that made me think would be the perfect spot for ambushes by native Americans such as those I had seen whilst watching old cowboy movies with my Granddad as a kid.
By the time we arrived at our accommodation for the night we were more than ready to have a good meal and a soft bed. I had a seriously sore backside but feel like the damage was done in the morning before I had got to grips with horse riding and was sure it would be better the next day. We were fed a stereotypical south american meal of chicken & rice before settling down on our balcony with a cold beer to watch the sunset over the desert landscape in front of us.
The next morning we set off after I’d had a bit of a pep talk with my horse about how we should work together today & I solidified this agreement with sliced apple and the promise of more, if all went well and off we went.
The second day involved more challenging terrain which included crossing rivers and streams & riding up and down big steep hills. We even came across a plain that was filled with soft, golden sand like on a beach which we used to get some speed up and race our horses as fast as we could, with the (slightly foolish) mentality that if we fell at least it was soft. I have the most hilarious memory of getting to the end of the sand, stopping and looking back waiting for Kevin and seeing him literally bouncing off the horse gripping on for dear life as he only just managed to stay on his horse.
After our race, we visited the area where legend says is the spot where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid met their end at the hands of the Bolivian army which finally ended their notorious string of bank robberies.
We then rode all day finally arriving back at the farm where we started just as the sun was starting to get low in the sky. I fulfilled my part of the deal and gave my horse another apple for good behaviour and said my good byes.
Doing a horse back trek from Tupiza was an amazing experience and one of the highlights of my trip! It was also a great deal as it cost only a little more than I would have paid for accommodation and food for the 2 days anyway. An excursion I highly recommend and hope to try again in another destination too.