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The Tragic Tale of Potosí »« Our Three-Day Hike Around Sucre, Part II

From Sucre to Potosí by Train

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By bus, a trip from Sucre to Potosí takes just a few hours, and it’s even faster by taxi. But if you’re more interested in scenery than speed, check out the ultra slow bus-train, which winds its wobbly way around mountains, lakes and valleys, offering spectacular views every inch of the way.

Carril Sucre Potosi

The trip takes almost seven hours, but it’s seven hours of the most beautiful landscapes imaginable, particularly if you’re able to snag the front seat next to the driver. Amazingly, this train isn’t a touristic draw. We were the only foreigners on board, and among a minority who wasn’t carrying a bag full of potatoes or chickens.

Tickets were about $3.50 apiece, already worth the price after the first fifteen minutes. Vertigo-sufferers may want to take a pass on the trip. The train never feels especially steady, and I felt my stomach lurch while looking over some bridges. But if you’re a fan of mountain scenery and not on a tight schedule, this trip is definitely something to consider. It’s also a slow, healthy way to ascend to Potosí’s 4000+ meter altitude.

Plus, the length of time gave me plenty of time to read up on the city. By the time we arrived in Potosí, we were aching to start exploring what must be among the world’s most interesting cities…

I Am Rich Potosi: The Mountain That Eats Men

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June 5, 2011 at 8:23 pm
21 comments »
  • June 6, 2011 at 3:02 amThe Travel Chica

    The train looks fun. Think I’ll have to do this when I make it to Bolivia.

  • June 10, 2011 at 10:13 pmcor leenheer

    Hi Jurgen and Michael!It is a small world…I met you in Ireland and now I got your blog from my mailgroup Websites (in the Netherlands)My question: Do you take chuckey always with you?I have offen dificulties to take my frenchie,Valentine, with me. I’m the mum from Martijn Leenheer.I think you know his dogs Rosa and Ayana. When I met you,I had 2 frenchies,a black and a brown one. Well I hope you’ve a nice time there , lovies Cor

  • June 14, 2011 at 10:16 pmSergio Marcio

    It’s unbelievable, I live here and I dind’t know about this train! I will certainly get some info about it. Nice post!

  • June 24, 2011 at 4:49 amJim Baker

    Is the track gauge Meter or 3 Feet?

    Jim Baker, Whittier, CA USA

  • September 8, 2012 at 8:17 pmJessica Moore

    Hello, I was just wondering if you knew if the train operated in the opposite direction? Is it possible to take if from Potosi to Sucre? I’m trying to get to Sucre and having some difficulty figuring out how to do it. 

    • September 9, 2012 at 2:29 pmMike Powell

      I do think they run both ways — back down the mountain would be a lovely way to see the countryside, too. They only go every other day, so you’d have to plan correctly; visit the train station in advance and confirm the schedule. Alternatively, you should be able to find buses which do the stretch fairly frequently — and which would be much quicker, though less picturesque.

  • June 2, 2014 at 5:01 pmPeter Kropf

    Hi there, I am in Sucre now and came across this while logged for options to go to Potosi. Could you by chance provide me with some details as far as from where I catch the train-bus? Also, where can I buy thickets?Thanks, Peter

  • March 21, 2015 at 2:23 pmShirley

    We would LOVE to take this route to potosi, only we are short on time, do you know if we can check the bus/train schedule online? To make sure we don’t end up waiting an extra day to take this route. Thanks!!

    • March 22, 2015 at 8:53 amJuergen

      As far as we know the only way to find out the schedule is to go to the train station. In case you have to add a day, don’t see it as a waiting day but as an extra day in Sucre.

  • March 28, 2015 at 3:04 amRob

    the picture with the villages name ‘Vila-Vila; comes from the Cochabamba_Aiquile Buscarril track  and not from the Sucre-Potosi track.  Personally i think the Cochabamba-Aiquile track is much better.For everybody who wants to have more info about the train bus carril in Bolivia check this website for more info:http://www.fca.com.bo/contenido.php?seccion=2

    • March 28, 2015 at 9:07 amMike Powell

      Thanks for the comment, and the helpful link! Just to clarify: all the photos in this post do come from the Sucre-Potosi trip … We were never even on the Cochabamba-Aiquile track, but maybe we’ll have to check it out, the next time we go return to Bolivia!

  • May 31, 2015 at 11:03 pmgringoinbolivia

    I live here too and never heard of this train.  I’ll be keen to check it out one day.

  • July 28, 2015 at 8:19 pmRoy Roberts

    Guys,Your adventures sound just like our many episodes staying in Peru a year.  I am presently writing a book on it–fabulous stuff–and how exciting!  Would like for you to read it (eBook) if you’re interested.  Will be on-line shortly.We took the 1-car train (I guess from Puno in 1969) into La Paz.  What a treat.  Ended at night suddenly going from pitch black to brilliant valley of diamonds!Respond if you are still “there.”Thanks!Roy


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