Tarmac all the way (not).

We are currently parked between Bolivia and Paraguay (S21.618513 W 62.688240).

That is, we have been stamped out of Bolivia at Ibibobo and started the dead straight 60km drive to the frontier.

There is a choice of two crossing points between Bolivia and Paraguay. The northern route thru Villazon was our first choice since our maps show it as a better class of dirt road. However, we were reliably informed in Potosi that the southern route thru Ibibobo had been recently upgraded to tarmac and that is the way the busses now go.

Our route from Uyuni to Ibibobo has been via Tupiza, Mojo, Tarija and Villa Montes. Most of it dirt road and quite high (over 3500 metres). Our maps showed that the road 60km before and 100km after Tarija was tarmac. It was not! However the scenery has been spectacular, particularly the Cordillera de Sama where we parked for the night by a lake with flamingos.

The road between Villa Montes and Ibibobo starts well with wide well-surfaced tarmac, but quickly degenerates with many detours thru very soft fine sand (rather like brown talcum powder). At one point Mel got bogged down, and after some digging to remove the excess sand, had to be towed back up onto the road.

Navigation also proved surprisingly difficult with many unsigned junctions. The last vestige of tarmac petered out about 10km after Villa Montes.

Our guide books told us that this border was unmanned and that we had to complete immigration and customs formalities at Tarija. When we tried to do this, we were told that immigration control was now at Ibibobo. Rather surprisingly this turned out to be true, with the Bolivian exit procedures fast and simple. Where (and if) Bolivian customs procedures are carried out remains to be seen.

Rather disconcertingly, all our maps show either no connecting roads in Paraguay or at best very poor tracks. But we have been reliably informed that they have recently been upgraded to....

Stephen Stewart.

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