A Travellerspoint blog

Death by a Thousand Stairs

Copacabana and Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca Bolivia

sunny 24 °C
View South American odyssey on tlbaker's travel map.

Copacabana

After an early departure from La Paz, we arrived in the Bolivian lakeside hub town of Copacabana on Easter Saturday. The town was heaving with people from near and far who had made the religious pilgrimage for Good Friday's celebrations. Bolivia's most popular "beach" was crammed with tents, ladies wandering up and down selling candy and toys, pinball games for kids, kids flying kites and families huddled around gas-stoves cooking fish and potatoes. Rubbish was littered on every spare square of ground. This was definitely not the image a town named Copacabana had conjured up for us.

Copacabana Beach, Bolivia

Copacabana Beach, Bolivia

After checking in to a horrible hostel we set off for some food and to find some better accomodation. Along the beach front we sat down for a typical lunch of "trucha a la plancha" (grilled trout) in a busy, street-stall kiosk. After this we squeezed our way through the crowds and vehicle-clogged dirt roads to find a peaceful guesthouse perched on the hill overlooking the town's chaos. Our bed was comfy and our room opened onto a garden complete with deck chairs and hammocks. We then crept back to our first hostel, grabbed our bags and bolted back to our new hostel where we lazed away the afternoon.

Travis lying in a hammock at our hostel

Travis lying in a hammock at our hostel

That evening we climbed the hill above Copacabana to watch a dazzling sunset while sipping (very average) Bolivian red wine. We got chatting to an inebriated Bolivian grandma who had made the pilgrimage from Potosi after her god had spoken to her and told her to come. Her granddaughter sat patiently at her side while we exchanged somewhat slurred Spanish pleasantries with her grandma.

Sun over Lake Titicaca

Sun over Lake Titicaca

View of Copacabana from the hill

View of Copacabana from the hill

Sunset over Lake Titicaca

Sunset over Lake Titicaca

Ali enjoying the view over Lake Titicaca sunset

Ali enjoying the view over Lake Titicaca sunset

On Easter Sunday we gathered in front of the town's church, where priests were blessing cars. Yes, that's right, we watched this bizarre ritual incredulously - cars, vans, trucks and buses were scattered with flowers, showered in champagne, fire crackers popping on the ground by the cars, and then the priest's blessing. This was followed up with a family photo with the blessed car. This yearly ritual is supposedly the country's substitute for car insurance.

Bolivian car insurance - Blessing of the cars

Bolivian car insurance - Blessing of the cars

Isla del Sol
Happily leaving crazy Copacabana behind, we took a boat to the beautiful Isla del Sol, or 'Island of the Sun', where according to Inka folklore the sun god was born and the Inca civilization created.

Isla del Sol

Isla del Sol

Upon arriving to the island we were presented with the challenge of the 'thousand steps', a stairway built by the Incas up the incredibly steep island's mountains. The walk to our hotel nearly killed us, walking up a staircase of over 300 steps in the blazing sun at a breathless 4,200m altitude wearing our backpacks. Although this was far less than the supposed thousand steps we could appriciate why it was dubbed this. But with the coaxing of a nimble 10 year old local boy, we staggered the remaining distance to our hotel. Rewarding ourselves with a cold beer, we sat in the hotel's restaurant taking in the amazing views of Lake Titicaca.

Thousand Steps

Thousand Steps

Once we'd gotten our breaths back, we hiked even further uphill to the highest point of the island to be awestruck again by the sunset. We were afterall on the island that mythically gave birth to the sun.

Offering to Pachamama on Isla del Sol

Offering to Pachamama on Isla del Sol

Us at Sunset on Lake Titicaca

Us at Sunset on Lake Titicaca

Sunset from Isla del Sol

Sunset from Isla del Sol

More Sunsets

More Sunsets

The island abounded in pizza joints, which is where we found ourselves that night, enjoying a good Chilean Cab Sav, and experiencing Bolivian customer service at its finest - when the wrong pizza arrived on our table we informed them of the mistake, and their only response was to stare at us and shrug their shoulders. Ee had to beg them to take it back and make us the pizza we'd ordered, and was probably only saved by another table deciding to take the incorrect pizza.

Donkeys on the trail, Isla del Sol

Donkeys on the trail, Isla del Sol

Cottage on Isla del Sol

Cottage on Isla del Sol

The next morning we set off on a round-trip hike of the island. The northern point of the island was home to inca ruins, overlooking white stretches of sand framed by clear,sparkling water of the lake. The path took us through tiny beach-front villages and communities, passing kids walking home from school, ladies carrying corn and farm produce on their backs and men with their donkeys and sheep. As we walked on we stepped further back in time, looking down on women sowing and harvesting their crops and pigs sunning themselves on the path.

Path on Isla del Sol

Path on Isla del Sol

Ali on the path, Isla del Sol

Ali on the path, Isla del Sol

Exhausted after 6 hours of exploring the island, we arrived back at our hotel and collapsed onto chairs and cheersed ourselves with more cold beer.

The next morning we farewelled the island and chugged slowly back to Copacabana, where our plan was to board the next bus to Puno, in Peru. However this turned out to be less straight forward than first thought. Learning that there was a transport strike that day and we had a 5 hour wait until the next bus would be allowed to leave that evening at 6.30. This was annoying, but not surprising. So we bought tickets for the bus to Puno from an agent. After this we had a mere 27 Bolivianos to our name (less than $4) so decided to go to the local public eating hall and had a very tasty two course meal of soup and meat, rice and potatoes, all for a mere 10 Bolivianos ($1) each!!! We then realised we could use our credit card at a few of the bars and killed the next few hours watching Champions' League over a few beers.

View from a beach, Isla del Sol

View from a beach, Isla del Sol

Town on Isla del Sol

Town on Isla del Sol

Donkeys on the beach, Isla del Sol

Donkeys on the beach, Isla del Sol

At 6.30 the agent told us we would travel to the Bolivia-Peru border in a micro (local mini-van) as there was still no tourist bus, and another bus would meet us on the other side of the border. Given the nature of strikes, we didn't question this and squashed into the mini-van with a few others. Once we'd crossed the Bolivian border, we were given our backpacks, got our exit stamps and walked through 'no man's land' to the Peruvian border crossing.

Inka Ruins, Isla del Sol

Inka Ruins, Isla del Sol

Inka Ruins, Isla del Sol

Inka Ruins, Isla del Sol

Inka Ruins, Isla del Sol

Inka Ruins, Isla del Sol

Inka Ruins, Isla del Sol

Inka Ruins, Isla del Sol

It was here as we waited in the massive, freezing queue to have our passport stamped, that our 'agent' informed us that unfortunately there was no bus to take us the further 2 hours to Puno. We realised we'd been scammed from the start. No refund, no apology, our 'agent' became angry that we were angry with her (naturally), and the six of us now had no mode of onward transport once we'd crossed into Peru. Turning down the woman's offer for all of us to fork out more cash for a Peruvian mini-van to drop us off at a village "somewhere" on the way to Puno, we then told some police offiers of our being ripped off, and they sent an officer and his dog chasing after the woman, who was by then making a run for it back across into Bolivia. With the help of the police and a few backpackers with fluent Spanish, we convinced the bus driver of the only remaining tourist bus to let us on board (at a cost) and stand in the aisles of the packed bus. And so, we made it into Peru and to Puno!

Posted by tlbaker 17:08 Archived in Bolivia Tagged sunset ruins inca Comments (0)

Riding the Highs and Lows

La Paz, Bolivia

sunny 24 °C

Our first impressions of the world's highest city, at just over 4000m, were of chaotic, noisy streets clogged with traffic and people and a grimey feel that hung about in the chilly air. Admittedly we did arrive in the middle of afternoon peak-hour, and our hostel sat at the top of the busy main thoroughfare. Over the next few days our first impressions gradually shifted to see La Paz as a city with a thriving culture and daily rituals present in most major cities, with the approach of the Easter holiday creating more madness than usual. Our hostel lived up to its rave reviews, and on our first night we sat in the rooftop bar sipping micro-brewed beers enjoying sweeping views of the city and surrounding mountains (which became a nightly ritual).

Clouds over La Paz

Clouds over La Paz


San Pedro Prison, La Paz

San Pedro Prison, La Paz

Craving a menu different from pasta, meat and salads, we enthusiastically ventured out into the La Paz night, seeking hot spicy curry. The curry restaurant came with a challenge - if you could finish an entire dish of their 'very, very, very hot and spicy vindaloo' then you got a t-shirt. How could we say no? Trav ordered the beef and Ali the chicken. The challenge was more in the finishing of a large amount by yourself, just as much as it was about consuming the incredibly hot, firey chilli-laden curry. Even for us chilli-lovers, this curry was damn hot! Ali's curry won - stopping at half-way, however Trav powered on, with the aid of a yoghurt raita and cold beer and a lassi, to finish the entire bowl and thus earning himself a t-shirt.

Travis finishing Worlds Most Dangerous Vindaloo

Travis finishing Worlds Most Dangerous Vindaloo

Unfortunatly for Trav he had caught a bought of gastro from Ali and that night became one of extreme torture. The next day saw him bed-bound. Because of this, we took our time in La Paz, and once Trav had recovered we trawled the many markets selling woollen goods.

We took a day trip to the Tiwanaku ruins on the outskirts of La Paz. The ruins themselves were fairly tame, despite being a large archeological site. The most exciting part of the day was catching the local public transport 'micros' or minivans. On our journey home we shared the micro with many Bolivian locals, who packed onto the bus with their sacks of potatoes, pick forks and dogs. Not exactly built for tall people as it is, cramming together in the micro was a major space & comfort challenge for us!

Tiwanaku Ruins

Tiwanaku Ruins

Tiwanaku Ruins

Tiwanaku Ruins

Tiwanaku Ruins

Tiwanaku Ruins

Tiwanaku Ruins

Tiwanaku Ruins

Tiwanaku Ruins

Tiwanaku Ruins

La Paz is known for its proximity to the 'World's Most Dangerous Road,' a 3.5m dirt track perched precipitously on the mountains decending into the Yungas. The road has drops of up to 300m and used to support 2-way traffic including busses and trucks. The worst accident in it's history was when a truck plummeted off with 100 people on board. Nowadays there is much less traffic using it due to a new paved road,and is mostly now only used for the adventure seeking backpackers to hurtle down on mountain bikes.

Fellow riders and us

Fellow riders and us

Travis cruising down the WMDR

Travis cruising down the WMDR

The day started early, with the obligatory pancake breakfast (provided by our hostel), we joined our group and ascended to 4700m for the start of the ride. Fully decked out in all the protective gear imaginable, we started our ride with some simple rules, and started cruising our way down the mountain. What we saw was some amazing scenary, as we plunged down through rugged high-altitude snow-capped mountains and eventually descended into lush, steamy rainforest. With eagles circling above us, we rode the rocky, bumpy and steep downhill section to the bottom, where we then celebrated with cold beers.

Worlds Most Dangerous Road

Worlds Most Dangerous Road

Worlds Most Dangerous Road

Worlds Most Dangerous Road

Worlds Most Dangerous Road

Worlds Most Dangerous Road

Worlds Most Dangerous Road

Worlds Most Dangerous Road

This was followed by a drive to the tiny town of Yalossa where we ravenously ate a buffet lunch and then relaxed by the swimming pool with more beer. For both of us, the bike ride was some of the most fun we had had on our entire trip, feeling good we had done something physically challenging but with the chance to see some awesome scenary at the same time.

Relaxing after the ride

Relaxing after the ride

We then made our way to the nearby town of Coroico, which perches on the side of the Yungas mountain range. It was our plan to spend a night in this laid-back, holiday moutain town where we laid up in a hostel with an incredible rooftop for watching the sunset and its own swimming pool. There we rested our weary selves after our day of action, lazing into the next day and eventually making our way back to La Paz for one more night, before we were to leave for Lake Titicaca early the next morning.

Alison Relaxing

Alison Relaxing

View of Yungas from Hotel in Early Morning

View of Yungas from Hotel in Early Morning

Alison Relaxing Again

Alison Relaxing Again

Posted by tlbaker 16:30 Archived in Bolivia Tagged mountains cycling Comments (0)

Sucre's Charm Wears Thin

Sucre, Bolivia

sunny 24 °C
View South American odyssey on tlbaker's travel map.

Our stop in the lovely city of Sucre was meant to be short and sweet, however we were about to experience the famous Bolivian past-time of protests. The next morning we attempted to pre-book an overnight bus to La Paz for the following day, which is when we learned that all major Bolivian cities had been blockaded by farmers, miners and health workers who were demanding pay increases. No one had any idea how long the blockades would last, so we decided to wait and see if we could book a bus the next day.

Blockade in Sucre

Blockade in Sucre

Sucre is another lovely old Colonial city, full of white buildings - houses, apartments, restaurants and pubs. It is the official capital of Bolivia according to the constitution, where independence was first declared but currently only holds judicial power.

Sucre Church

Sucre Church

Ali ringing church bell

Ali ringing church bell

We took a tour of the independence museum, which was actually very interesting, illustrating Bolivia's journey to independence and its historical alliance with Argentina. There is a running theme in all accounts of Bolivia's history that the country never got a fair go, with Spain pilfering all its precious metals and the final nail in the coffin was when Chile annexed its only coastal land, leaving Bolivia totally land-locked.

Simon Bolivar (Revolutionary General of South America and Bolivia's Namesake

Simon Bolivar (Revolutionary General of South America and Bolivia's Namesake

Original Argentinian Flag with Reverse Colours to Current Flag

Original Argentinian Flag with Reverse Colours to Current Flag

Sucre had an awesome fresh food market, which was conveniently located opposite our hostel. We spent some time strolling through the stalls of spicy chorizo, meat and cheese filled pastries known as 'saltenas,' fresh juice stands and the vast fruit and vegetables.

Ali lining up at the Juice and Smoothie Stands at the Markets

Ali lining up at the Juice and Smoothie Stands at the Markets

Spices at the Markets

Spices at the Markets

Shopkeeper in Markets

Shopkeeper in Markets

The next day we pretty had very little left, and as Travis could not find a motorcycle tour with anyone else signed up we decided to check out the Parrque Cretacios and a lookout for sunset. The Parque Cretacios is a dinosaur park from which you can view dinosaur footprints exposed by the quarrying of a mountain. Unfortunately the viewing platform is so far away from the footprints due to the quarry still functioning that it was rather disappointing. However the tacky life-size models made the trip worth while.

Parque Cretacious

Parque Cretacious

Dinosaur Footprints (from afar)

Dinosaur Footprints (from afar)

Life-size Brontosaurus

Life-size Brontosaurus

T-Rex Model

T-Rex Model

Just before sunset we hiked up to the area of Recoleta where a Mirador (lookout) sits above the city. Complete with a garden cafe and deck chairs to kick back on while enjoying a drink, we watched the sun set dramatically over the city.

Sunset over Sucre

Sunset over Sucre

Sunset over Sucre

Sunset over Sucre

Our first accommodation was not the most sociable place, so after two nights we moved to a hostel with a livelier atmosphere. Here, while unfortunately Ali suffered the effects of another stomach bug, Trav had a few drinks with fellow travellers and later more capirinhas at a local bar.

Recoleta, Sucre

Recoleta, Sucre

The next day was a write-off with Ali sick in bed, so Travis made some good use of the many Gringo bars to update blogs and watch some football matches.

Travis with Macho Pique (Bolivian traditional food only for macho men)

Travis with Macho Pique (Bolivian traditional food only for macho men)

The next afternoon, since there was still no certainty about the road blocks stopping and no agreement reached between the protesters and the government, we got on our pre-booked flight to La Paz, travelling business class. Taking only 45 minutes compared to a bumpy 12 hours by road, we happily stretched out and enjoyed the views of La Paz as we descended.

Travis in Business Class

Travis in Business Class

Posted by tlbaker 16:29 Archived in Bolivia Tagged architecture sunset colonial Comments (0)

A City with a Silver Lining

Potosi, Bolivia

sunny 21 °C
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We arrived in Potosi after midnight and upon reaching our hostel we crashed for the night. However our slumber was short lived due to an early morning start for the mine tour. A tour of a Potosi mine is almost a rite of cultural passage in this very old, once-rich mining city. Ali was undecided about doing the tour, having heard numerous warnings about dust, gases, cramped spaces and the possibility (although unlikely) of serious accidents. However, with a bit of coaxing she decided to brave the mines.

The tour kicked off with all of us dressing in “real” miners' clothes - gum boots, overalls and helmet with headlight. Then we trooped to the miners' markets, where we bought coca leaves, soft drinks and dynamite as gifts for the miners.

Tour operator and ex-miner

Tour operator and ex-miner

Ali with explosives

Ali with explosives

This was then followed by a tour of the processing plants where the compound minerals are separated using a mixture of toxic chemicals, such as cyanide. This separation process only separates the metals from the crud, and the remaining processing of the metals into their useful elements is done in other countries.

Metal Separation Machinery

Metal Separation Machinery

Processed metal

Processed metal

Next was the mines. The mines are not owned by a corporation, but by the miners themselves. They work in groups or collectives, with each group owning a mine shaft into the Cerro Ricco. Luckily (or not?) for us, we got to witness “safety week” at the mines, which is the one week of the year after the rainy season that the miners fix the mines to make sure the metal tracks are intact and the wooden pillars and doing their job supporting the mine shafts. As we walked, crouched, climbed and squeezed our way through two levels of the dark, muddy and dusty mine, we stopped intermittently with our enthusiastic host to chat to the miners on the job. The miners work day shifts in the mines, without eating during a shift but continuously chewing coca leaves, which numb effects of fatigue, thirst, hunger and pain. They also drink an alcoholic drink made from fermented sugar cane of 96% alcohol (which would also help numb a lot of things).

Ali in the mines

Ali in the mines

Miners working

Miners working

We watched in amazement as miners pushed and dragged metal wagons along badly maintained tracks, carrying loads of more metal tracks to be laid in repair of the current ones. This looked like serious hard work and high-lighted to us how lacking the mines are in engineering or technological knowledge. Our guide told us that everything he knew about mining he learnt from his father. The most experienced miners work for up to 35 years in the mine, and many will have a lifespan of 40 or 50 years due to silicosis.

Miners Eating Coca

Miners Eating Coca

Miners bringing new tracks into the mine

Miners bringing new tracks into the mine

Potosi was once a rich city, hills teeming with silver and minerals. Now the hills are mined bare. The working conditions inside the mines and plants are very much unchanged from when they began. The miners are intensely religious, believing that God protects them when outside the mines, but inside the mines is the devil, or 'Tios' domain. Inside each mine shaft there is a figure of a Tio which all miners pay their respects to by offering coca leaves, and the most pure alcohol in hope he will provide them with more pure minerals.

Tour guide with Tio (Devil)

Tour guide with Tio (Devil)

Completely exhausted after the Uyuni tour and mine tour we crashed for the afternoon, before draging ourselves out to check out the town. We were not expecting much, so we were pleasantly surprised as we made our way around this bustling little town with many old colonial buildings. Despite this now being a poor city, the evidence of its past wealth, when it had more inhabitants than London or Paris, was evident.

Cerro Rico

Cerro Rico

Potosi City

Potosi City

Potosi City

Potosi City

Potosi City

Potosi City

A visit to the old mint complemented our education in mining, as the mint was once the powerhouse of the world's supply of silver coins. The mint stopped production in the 1950s, and now Bolivia's currency is minted in other countries. Yet another indicator of Bolivia's economic decline despite its richness in natural resources. That afternoon we caught a bus to Sucre, a journey that plunged through colouful lush agriculutural and mountain landscapes in the setting sun.

Famous painting of Cerro Rico with Virgin Mary

Famous painting of Cerro Rico with Virgin Mary

Original Minting Machinery Driven by Donkeys

Original Minting Machinery Driven by Donkeys

Underneath of Minting Machinery with Donkey Replicas

Underneath of Minting Machinery with Donkey Replicas

Inca Sacrafice Mummies

Inca Sacrafice Mummies

Posted by tlbaker 17:48 Archived in Bolivia Tagged mines Comments (0)

Living in the Wild Wild SouthWest

Southwest Circuit, Bolivia

all seasons in one day 10 °C
View South American odyssey on tlbaker's travel map.

Crossing into Bolivia

From Tilcarra we took a morning bus, with half the people from the hostel we were staying in, to the town of La Quiaca, on the Argentinian side of the border crossing into Bolivia. Crossing the border itself was fairly straightforward for us, especially compared to the hoops the Americans had to jump through to cross this border. Apart from a very confused Bolivian offical when presented with Ali's 2 passports, we got across with no worries. We decided to take the train to Tupiza, and within minutes of boarding the train one of the guys we had been travelling with realized his daypack had been stolen. This certainly was a nice welcome to Bolivia and made us re-think some of our security arrangements. We spent the next three hours rocking along through cornfields, rocky moutains and cacti-studded hillside to Tupiza.

Crazy Hat

Crazy Hat

Tupiza

A quick stop in a backwater town, for the sole purpose of booking our tour of the Southwest circuit, including the famous Salar de Uyuni (salt flats). The group of us found accomodation in a hostal in the midst of renovations, and we couldn't get to our room due to piles of broken cement and ripped up floor tiles. We considered a tour which involved climbing a volcano, taking an extra day compared to the standard route, however at 5,940m altitude decided we had not yet acclimatised enough to endure and enjoy the experience.

We booked a tour with the same company as our friends, leaving the next day. The understanding was we would be in different cars but would meet up at the stops, eat together and sleep at the same accomodation. However, a major disute started when one of our friends highlighted the inconsistancy with the pricing of the cars when they were having to carry the cook for another car. The tour company seemed incapable of handling this, and in the end we were so fed up with them we agreed to change cars, which resulted in us paying more money. This would turn out to be a bad decision as it meant that we were no longer travelling together with the people we had booked with and spend a lot of the trip trying to link up with our friends.

Southwest Circuit

Day 1

After a luxurious scrambled eggs breakfast at our hotel, we left Tupiza in our 4WDs by 9am. The first day was a massive one, with a total of 11 hours driving. This was also a freezing cold day, not helped by underestimating the weather at altitude (frost and snow), and wearing shorts. Towards the end of the day as the sun was descending, we stopped at some amazing ruins of a village, known coloqiually as 'little Machu Pichu," the inhabitants of which had been practically wiped out by the plague. Inside the 4WD, with our two French companions Sabine and Tiffan, we bumped along the serious 4WD terrain, driving through rivers, sliding through both thick mud and sand and diverging when the "road" had big chunks missing from it.

Us at 4885m altitude, in shorts!!

Us at 4885m altitude, in shorts!!

View from the 4885m high pass

View from the 4885m high pass

"Little Machu Pichu" (Colonial Ruins)

"Little Machu Pichu" (Colonial Ruins)

Our driver, Pedro, accompanied by his Mama, our cook, raced ahead of our friends in the other jeep and we made it to our accomodation late that night in the tiny village of Quetena Chico. While happy to have comfy beds with three blankets each, we were not happy to have been separated from the people we'd been hanging out with the past few nights. Our driver promised we'd catch up with them at lunchtime the next day.

Pedro and our Jeep

Pedro and our Jeep


Jeep and a Mountain

Jeep and a Mountain

Day 2

The day started with a sleep in (6.30am instead of 4.30am) and a delicious hot scrambled eggs breakfast, we were on the road by 7.30. We drove past towering Volcan Uturuncu, at 6008m high and covered in snow, we were glad we decided not to climb this one! Today was a day of lagunas (lagoons). One of the most impressive lagoons was Laguna Verde, an emerald green lagoon sitting at the foot of another monster volcano, at 5,9400m.

Laguna Verde

Laguna Verde

Laguna Colarado, a reddish-pink tinged lake, was the largest of the lagoons, and is home to lots of flamingos who live, feed and breed in the lagoon.

Laguna Colarado (Red Lagoon)

Laguna Colarado (Red Lagoon)

Flamingo's Taking Flight

Flamingo's Taking Flight

More Flamingos

More Flamingos

Shore of Laguna Colarado

Shore of Laguna Colarado

Lone Flamingo with Reflection

Lone Flamingo with Reflection

The highlight of the day was soaking in a natural thermal hot pool. The pool, though shallow and crammed with tourismos, was a steamy 36-38 degrees C and was a total luxury to wallow in the sunshine engulfed by chilly mountain air, esecially as this was the only oportunity to get wet the entire trip with only freezing cold showers at all of our lodgings.

Thermal Pool

Thermal Pool

Travis in the Thermal Pool

Travis in the Thermal Pool

We also saw geysers, smelly sulphur-omitting holes in the earth shooting steam of around 350 degrees C into the freezing air.

Geysers, 5000m Altitude

Geysers, 5000m Altitude

Boiling Mud at Geysers

Boiling Mud at Geysers

Our accomodation that night saw all of us tourismos ushered into cement dorms in another tiny middle-of-nowhere village. Our friends finally caught up to us later that night, telling us of their dramas with forgetting passports, engine trouble and stopping to tow a car out of a bog. They were totally exhausted and hit the sack early. This was the coldest night, complete with snow. Our adopted "Mama" made us hot water bottles in plastic 2L bottles which helped warm our bodies as we tried to sleep through the freezing night.

Day 3

With no hot breakfast awaiting us in the morning, the day was off to a somewhat disappointing start. Today we were heading for Uyuni, taking in more sights on the way. The 'Arbol de Piedra' a rock formation in the shape of a tree, was an interesting change from lagoons and mountains, although we thought it more resembled a cartoon face.

'Arbol de Peidra

'Arbol de Peidra

Offering to Pachamama (Quechua God of the Earth)

Offering to Pachamama (Quechua God of the Earth)


Travis on a Rock

Travis on a Rock

We also saw more lagoons with flamingoes and some amazing reflections.

Sulphur Lagoon where Flamingoes Hang

Sulphur Lagoon where Flamingoes Hang

Amazing Lagoon Reflections

Amazing Lagoon Reflections

Our overnight stay in Uyuni found us, with a shock, back amidst civilsation - which meant hot showers, electricity and cold beer. After dinner, wine and card games with our french companions, we had an early one in anticipation of our early start the next day.

Church in a small town

Church in a small town

Day 4

The final day of our tour was by far the most visually rewarding, but involved a harsh 4am wake up call. After at least half an hour Ali finally got her contacts in, and we hastily ran for the departing jeep. We drove to the Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flats spanning 12,106 square km. We arrived in time to watch the spectacular sunrise, and, braving icy temperatures, we stood willing the sun to peek over the moutain top, mostly to warm us up.

Civil Twilight on Salar de Utuni

Civil Twilight on Salar de Utuni

Civil Twilight on Salar de Utuni

Civil Twilight on Salar de Utuni

The growing light air-brushed pastel pinks, violets and blues on the salt surface, and as the sun's rays finally pierced through the chilliness the effect was a canvas of glittering salt crystals.

International Flags on Solar de Uyuni

International Flags on Solar de Uyuni

Us on the Salt Flats

Us on the Salt Flats

Sunshine on the Solar de Uyuni

Sunshine on the Solar de Uyuni

Our Amigos on the Solar de Uyuni

Our Amigos on the Solar de Uyuni

Frozen to the core, we then headed inside the salt hotel (a hotel with walls, ceiling and furniture made entirely from salt) for a pancake breakfast. Afterwards, we ventured back onto the salt, taking 'perspective' photos on the salt flats. Unfortunately due to it being the tail-end of the wet season, the salt flats were flooded and most parts swimming in ankle-deep water, making our desired photography challenging.

Ali with Salt Crystals

Ali with Salt Crystals

Jumping on the Salt Flats

Jumping on the Salt Flats

Perspective Photo with our French Amigos

Perspective Photo with our French Amigos

More Jumping with Amigos

More Jumping with Amigos

Posted by tlbaker 16:13 Archived in Bolivia Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises lakes birds landscape ruins de solar uyuni Comments (0)

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