Get on board the bus from Uyuni to Tupiza

Reviewed

on: 2023-08-06

by: Oliver Williams

Quick Facts

  • Duration

    04 hours 15 minutes

  • Rating

  • Experience

    historical site, hiking, museums

  • Best Price

    USD $ 14

  • Maximum comfort or class

    Good

  • Departures

    2 departures daily

  • Recommended by

    488 explorers

Price may fluctuate due to seasonal demand and other market-driven and regulatory events.

The Uyuni to Tupiza Bus Route

Cemetery in San Vicente, Bolivia, where the remains of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are buried.

If you are a fan of the old wild west Hollywood films and the tales of legendary bank robbers, then your time traveling in Bolivia must include visiting the high mountain mining town where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid made their last stand.  That is Tupiza, and visitors from around the world make a pilgrimage to it like a sanctified shrine. 

The bus is a great option to take in the rocky and desolate landscape, lined with old railroads from the golden age of mining when Bolivia was a magnet for international barons looking to invest large amounts of labor and material to pull out silver and copper from the earth. That’s why Butch and the Kid were here too, they thought they could hide out here and make some money in the mines, and law enforcement would never catch up with them.  Wrong as they were, they still left Bolivia another reason to explore their trails and imagine the drama that occurred on Tupiza’s soil.

To get started on your trip planning, just click Reserve Now above and find the bus that’s right for you.

What are the buses in Bolivia like?

In general, Bolivian buses fall into the tier of low- to mid-range comfort and class. They get regular maintenance but are maintained instead of replaced. On longer distances, however, the better coaches of a fleet are used, which this route qualifies as a recipient. The seats are padded and the cabin is heated or air-conditioned, and there will likely be a movie playing on TV screens hanging from the ceiling.

WiFi is going to be spare at best because you are going out into a more remote area where service is confined to only when you get near population centers.  Vendors will board the buses once in a while to go up and down the aisle selling homemade snacks, toothbrushes, and other conveniences. This is not as common on night trips.  Rest stops, however, are obligatory, where you can get off the bus to stretch, use public restrooms and get some quick cafeteria meals. If you travel at night, plan on wearing a poncho or covering your lap and shoulders with an iconic Bolivian blanket, as the temperatures drop sharply and the heating system on board the bus is not guaranteed to be adequate for people who are not used to the environment.  But you get what you pay for, and you’ll like the price!

How long is the bus ride?

The ride from Uyuni to Tupiza is 196 km (122 miles) and takes roughly 4 hours and 35 minutes. With the exception of sporadic highway repairs, the environment doesn't change much in this area, so you won’t be experiencing any traffic congestion.  The sole circumstance in which the bus driver may choose to stop and pick up or drop off passengers en route is during a festival season.  Festivals, holidays, or even coordinated national protests may completely halt bus service, but this is extremely uncommon.

However, expect long lines if you did not reserve a bus ticket in advance to get to Tupiza, because there are only two departures a day. The bus companies are mostly oriented to helping locals who are commuting between Uyuni and Tupiza and then tourists are the minority of passengers. So, there can be a lot of what looks and sounds like an auction for bus tickets, cutting deals and redirecting last-minute buyers to other lines, especially near weekends and on holidays. 

Bypass all this annoyance and pain and get your ticket online here.  We make it our business to fight the lines for you and get you the best seats on the bus. 

What is the cost of traveling by bus from Uyuni to Tupiza?

Direct routes are all under USD $14, and then there are indirect routes that end up costing more because they involve going back to Tupiza just to catch a bus to Tupiza, so there’s no real benefit for travelers unless you have some business to do in Tupiza first. 

There are a couple of minor things that affect price variation:

When you go

Weekends and holidays, like most other types of travel, are slightly more expensive. Bus fares between Uyuni and Tupiza are cheaper on Mondays through Thursdays and Saturdays and then get more expensive on Fridays and Sundays when people are leaving for or coming back from the weekend.

When you book

If you book these tickets plenty in advance, you won’t have to pay quite so much for them. Inflation is happening everywhere, including Bolivia, so reserving earlier locks you into a lower rate.

What are the bus schedules from Uyuni to Tupiza?

For the service we recommend, there’s a reliable daily schedule of one bus in the morning at 6:00 am, and a second one in the evening departing at 7:45 pm. To get the best experience, you should lean toward the morning departure so you can see the landscape along the way and get into Tupiza before lunch and explore the town all in a single day.  In contrast, the night bus arrives in Tupiza at midnight, so the trip will be all in the dark, and yet it will still be too early an arrival that you won’t be able to save money on lodging by sleeping on the bus. 

There are other schedules, but these are either indirect routes to Tupiza that first go north to Potosi and then go back south from there to Tupiza, or they are with providers who have unreliable service and schedules or are on the other end of the spectrum only cater to private chartered groups. 

Where can I book bus tickets from Uyuni to Tupiza?

There are two options you have here:

Online

This is without a doubt the quickest, most affordable, and most reliable way to purchase a bus ticket these days, making it a complete no-brainer. Imagine having a seat reserved for you when you arrive at the bus station with your ticket in your pocket. As the few seats left are sold like bait to a school of sharks, unwind and take a seat back with a cup of coffee in hand. 

To make a reservation for a flight from Uyuni to Tupiza, simply click the Reserve Now option at the top of this page. Your reservation will be made and completed in a matter of clicks.

In-person

As we noted earlier, we don't really suggest this choice as it’s fraught with risk. Although it is possible, you might find it difficult to go out of your way to the bus office just to learn that the bus time you sought is no longer running. If a local advises you to simply go to the bus station because it is simple and inexpensive, keep in mind that they have likely done it hundreds of times and speak Spanish fluently, making it easier for them to have a feel of the lines and signs and identify which people to ignore and which to consult about unforeseen events like sold-out buses or schedule changes. In the end, paying for a cab will cost you more money, time, and enduring aggravating changes versus purchasing a ticket online.

What to see in Tupiza

Cemetery in San Vicente, Bolivia, where the remains of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are buried.

If you’ve made it as far as Uyuni, only to turn back around for the long trip to La Paz or Cochabamba, you’re losing out on an opportunity to visit an excitingly historic piece of the planet that not enough people get to realize is so amazing, and it’s only less than five hours past Uyuni.  Here are a few of our favorite picks to do when you visit Tupiza.

#1 - San Vicente

The tiny village of San Vicente is at the end of the long Tupiza-San Vicente road that meanders into the mountains west of the city. Here in this very old mining town, you will encounter where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid thought no police would find them. And yet, they underestimated the local authorities right in the village, and eventually, there was a standoff and a shootout that led to their final fate in early November of 1908. A small museum dedicated to the notorious duo with artifacts and historical photos connecting them to the town. It is recommended that you go with a tour guide you can contact in Tupiza, as the road is not paved and there is no tourist infrastructure along the way. 

Read more our how these American outlaws were similar to the travails and journeys of one of Latin America’s icons, in our epic guide, The South American Trails of Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, and Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.

#2 - Hiking in the Tupiza River Valley

The Río Tupiza flows right through town, and hikers can easily follow the river south for some eye-popping scenery of lush green fields towered over by bright red and ghostly looking escaparments.  Set your target on the best section of the valley, called Viñas de Mi Abuelo, which is a protected park.  

#3 - Mercado Negro

Thanks to its strategically central position between many remote villages, Tupiza is a boon for several outdoor markets, and you should explore them all. The most famous of them is in the center of town and is referred to as Mercado Negro. It is a feast for all the senses and is open seven days a week from early in the morning until after sundown. You’ll find here fresh produce and livestock, home-cooked meals, hand-woven baskets and hats, pottery, electronics, and the list goes on.

#4 - Municipal theater Suipacha

If you are longing for a little nightlife and local entertainment, just a block from the Mercado Negro is Tupiza’s Suipacha theater, which stages many concerts of indigenous Bolivian music throughout the year, as well as touring plays and lectures.  You’ll find it on Chorolque Street near the corner with Junín. 

#5 - Municipal Museum

On the southern side of the city’s main square, Plaza de la Independencia where the cathedral that dominates the skyline is located, you’ll also run into the city’s Museo Municipal.  Here you will find the most generous of the area’s collections of preserved history, artifacts, ethnography, folklore, and other touring art exhibits.   

Conclusion

Tupiza possesses the very soul of the Andean side of Bolivia, with not only a connection to the infamous American fugitives but its own history and living culture to put on full display as well. Take a trip there from Uyuni to catch the scenery that is out of a surreal dream before you move to other great nearby destinations like Tarija or even cross the nearby border into Argentina. Get on the next bus from Uyuni to Tupiza and let the fun begin!

Route Map

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Does the train go to Tupiza?
The state of the train system in Bolivia has declined considerably since the pandemic of 2020, and will be a long time before enough investment allows it to be fully reliable. The train does run on occasion, but tickets and schedules are not consistent and difficult to procure. It’s much more a sure thing to take the bus.
Are there guides to the Butch Cassidy site in Tupiza?
Yes, but most will still only speak Spanish. Any hotel in Tupiza can connect you with a tour provider to San Vicente, the death place of Cassidy and Sundance, but plan on a full day as it is quite a distance into the mountains west of Tupiza.
Are there return trips from Tupiza to Uyuni?
Not directly. Buses go north from Tupiza to Potosi, and then there are buses that go west from there to Uyuni. You can look them up and reserve on andestransit.com
What are the ticket policies?
It depends on the carrier you choose, but their specific policies can be previewed during checkout or in the summaries printed on your ticket email. For a general overview, see the Ticket Policy page.

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