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Quebrada de Palala and El Sillar - Hiking Tupiza - Bolivia

Possibly the most impressive of the rock formations around Tupiza, the Quebrada de Palala and El Sillar are also in a handy location, on the salt route that all jeep tours take from Tupiza to the Salar. While the later is a bit far out to walk (17 km northwest--but with some resilience, camp gear and plenty of water it can be done), they both are great first site-seeing spots on day one of the four day salt flat tour; definitely ask your guide to stop.


The Quebrada de Palala is a broad riverbed which flows abundantly just a couple of rainy season months out of the year, but serves as a southwestern wilderness highway during the dry months. The tall thin rocks that provide a backdrop to the quebrada make formations called fins, which are impressive enough alone, but standing against the multicolored mineral deposits and scattered cacti are all the more stunning. Most of the route is rolling hills and a slow climb in altitude, but groups of rock fins spot the area, making for extended and impressive emphasis.


El Sillar, in English--The Saddle, is further down the salt route road (12.5 km from the first large fin formations of the Palala), but by far a more dramatic and worthwhile site to see. The winding road climbs up another quebrada (Quebrada Chiriyoj Waykho) and eventually crosses from peak to peak across two valleys. The Sillar sits below the road, and is a masterpiece of eroded rock formations cut through by a (in the summer months) dry riverbed. It’s best to get there early, while the light illuminates the rock valley and its shadows are all the more impressive.


Not only is the dried route used for salt flat tours and site-seeing, but it is the same road you would take to head up to San Vicente in search of bandits Butch and Sundance, and that on which herds of llama, alpaca and donkey pass on from Uyuni to Tarija during early summer months.



Here are other activities in and around Tupiza that may be of interest: Hiking Around Tupiza, El Cañón and Quebrada de Palmira and The Valle de Los Machos.

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