When we booked our 7 day tour from La Paz, Bolivia to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, we were told that our last night’s accommodations would be the most basic. I was bracing myself as our first night with a local family was pretty basic.
When we arrived to Huaylla Jara, Bolivia, our jeep pulled up to a hostel and the guide told us to stay put. They knocked but nobody was there. I was a little bit nervous since I automatically assumed that we had a reservation. When the guide came back, he told us some line about how the town only has 1 radio so nobody makes reservations but we’re going to try another hostel. We drove by a nice hostel and pulled into the parking lot of a crappy hostel.
At this point we knew what was going on – there was a set rate that everyone paid for the tour, so the guides put everyone up at the cheapest room they can find. This way, the profit margin for them is higher.
Our Shared Dorm Room
The guide lead us to a room with 5 beds and told us that this was our room that we were sharing with the 2 Swedish girls that were in our car. I told him that we were told we had private rooms but he was not helpful in the least, we had a dorm room and had to deal with it. Since there were 4 of us and 5 twin beds, we were able to store all of our gear on one of the beds.
The door was warped, something that we found as common at budget accommodations in Bolivia. This meant that we couldn’t shut our door, which had everything that we had with us in it, nor could we lock the door as there was no lock on the inside. Even if we could fully shut the door, we wouldn’t want to while we were inside because there was no handle on the inside. So, if we had been able to shut the door we would have been trapped in there. I would say I’m surprised that the hostel wouldn’t fix a security issue like this, but the hostel was going for budget, not for quality.
It turned out that we were fortunate that we were only sharing with 2 people. The others in our tour had to share their room with not only each other but also our guide which I found not only awkward, but also extremely unprofessional.
I had an absolutely horrible night of sleep, not only was I cold but also I was sleeping alone. I couldn’t wait for the next day when the tour was completed so I could finish the tour and pick my own lodging accommodations.
We were warned that our hostel would not have a shower, but I was not prepared for how bad the rest of the bathroom would be.
There were a total of 3 toilets, only 2 of which were operational. This had to cover everyone staying at the hostel which was around 25 people. There was no toilet paper and we were not told that we had to bring our own. Luckily, we had some pocket pack Kleenex which we were able to use but my frustration level was high – from the crappy accommodations to the lack of communication.
When I went to wash my hands after using the bathroom, I was not surprised that there was no soap to use. We had thrown a couple mini bars that we had picked up at hostels along the way into our bags, just in case. I put out soap by the sink for everyone to use, totally appalled that something as basic and inexpensive as soap, which helps prevent sickness, was not in the bathroom.
There were several communal tables where we ate. I set my bar extremely low for the food, and even with that was disappointed. We had vegetarian spaghetti for dinner which did not have enough sauce, was not hot enough and not filling whatsoever. As a peace offering for the crappy accommodations, were given a bottle of Bolivian wine to drink with dinner. Everyone raved about how great it was but I knew that the bottle we were given cost $3 since I had purchased it at the grocery store in La Paz. Nobody said anything about how even though we had wine, there was no water for us to drink with dinner, something that we have had with every other meal.
In the morning I arrived to the table a little bit before breakfast. I saw that there were pancakes sitting out for at least 10 minutes. Not surprisingly, they were ice cold. I ate just enough to fill up a little bit, knowing that when we arrived in San Pedro de Atacama, we would get a nice lunch.
By the time we arrived at this hostel, I was completely over being on the tour. While it was fun, 7 days is a long time to be with other people, going on someone else’s timeline. I wanted to be able to move at my own speed, pick where I want to eat and select my own hostels.
This was, by a landslide, the absolutely worst hostel that we have stayed in to date. It didn’t have a name and I’m not surprised why – TripAdvisor would rip it apart given the chance.
Staying in a dorm for the night made me realize just how lucky Andy and I are to be able to afford private rooms during our trip. We were staying with 2 girls that we knew and were normal, I can’t imagine how bad it would have been had we been with strangers or weirdos.