A Travellerspoint blog

What Planet am I on?

sunny 55 °F
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After being in first world Chile, in Bolivia it was like driving through an empty desert.

A few minutes from the border we got into the Parque Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avarda, which was expensive surprisingly and had pay bathrooms, bummer, we quickly left humanity behind. First we stopped at Laguna Blanca, an amazingly beautiful greyish lagoon with a few vicunas and flamingioes on its shores, of course surrounded by volcanoes, this is the Andes after all!
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We continued to Laguna Verde with nearly 6000 meter (19800 feet) Volcan Licancábur where we took a photo of the six of us in the jeep.
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After that, we entered a land of desert, volcanic sand, and colorful formations. This stretch is called the Salvadore Dalí Desert.
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It felt like a different planet. We stopped for photos in the desert and our driver and guide, Felipe posed for this photo. He seems to be a nice guide who loves driving (it must be crazy to do this everyday!).
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We kept driving onto Laguna Salada where there was another thermal spring. Feeling better and being in the sun (it is not warm at 13000 feet) I bathed.
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After that we stopped at Sol de Mañana Geysers. There were boiling pots of colored water and a rooten egg stench of course.
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We reached our lodging for the night at around 1 PM and had lunch. It is rustic and located at nearly 15,000 feet!
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After lunch we visited the most beautiful lagoon of the day (in my opinion) Laguna Colorada. It is not good to describe this one in words.
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Day one in Bolivia and I felt like I could be on Mars!

Posted by solorooster 19:37 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Bolivia

sunny 60 °F
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Until two days ago my plan was to save Bolivia until after my Macchu Pichu trek in Mid April. However, it became clear that Bolivia was the best option to get to Cuzco sSo I bought a 3 day tour through southern Bolivia including the Salar de Uyuni, a top 10 must see in South America. I will hopefully be well acclimated to elevation as I will not be at elevations under 11,000 feet until mid April at the earliest. Wish me luck!

I got picked up on time this morning and we arrived at Aduana to exit Chile early. We got through quickly and I’m glad we did because this is what it looked like when we left.
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It was about an hour to the Bolivian border. At the Bolivian border, I was nervous because I have heard they give American citizens hell and I need a Visa for $135. They took my passport and reviewed it and told me that I can proceed but I need to get a visa in Uyuni 3 days ahead.
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So, I am in Bolivia and face complete uncertainty in Uyuni. Hopefully all will go well with the visa. I need to get north to Peru in 10 days.

At the border we switched from paved road and vans to dirt road and jeeps. A new adventure begins …
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Posted by solorooster 16:04 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Lagunas and Flamingos

sunny 75 °F
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Today I went on a tour to the Salar de Atacama, the largest salt flat in Chile.
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In the middle of the flat is a lagoon where the flamingos hang out. Three species were present ... the Chilean (black patch on back), Andean (whote legs), and James (red legs).
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Then, the trip ascended towards some high altitude lagoons. On the way, there were colored rock formations.
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We stopped at the town of Socaire where there is a 400 year old church.
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Then we arrived 4000m up on the altiplano.
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Not far away we visited 2 lagunas, Miscanti and Miñiques. Miscanti was a beautiful blue color with some ribbons of green with the minerals in the water. the reflections of the mountains made it appear brown in places too.
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It was surrounded by volcanoes.
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Laguna Miñiques was drier and darker in color and there were a herd of vicuña hanging out by the edge.
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Finally, we stopped at Toconao, a town made of volcanic stone and another interesting church. Can you spot the llama in this photo?
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Afterward, it was time to change monies and I found out my Argentinian Pesos are worth next to nothing here in Chile (I have $60 worth). I felt very annoyed, powerless, and taken advantage of. I was reminded that it is small potatoes though.

Posted by solorooster 17:19 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Around San Pedro de Atacama

sunny 65 °F
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Today was a more mellow day hanging around San Pedro de Atacama and making one small excursion to Pukara de Quitor, some prehistoric ruins of the Atacameño people then taken over by the Incas and then the Spanish.

First, my friends and I stopped at the church in town, with the roof made of cactus.
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Then after a 3k walk in the desert we arrived at the ruins. The ranger did not allow much exploration of the ruins so we took the trail to the viewpoint, which wasn't even a viewpoibnt of the ruins but had nice views of the desert and mountains.
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Afterward, I chilled out in town. This town is interesting ... the roads aren't paved and the drainage in places scary.
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My hostel is unique too. The "building" consists of structures made of adobe walls with bottles embedded for light transmission, tin roofing, and some canopies made of wood and straw. In the middle is an open courtyard.
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Finally, as I am leaving Chile soon, I wanted to take a photo of the money. The bill are colorful like Monopoly and the smaller notes have a clear plastic window in them ... really different.
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Posted by solorooster 13:01 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Up to the geysers

sunny 60 °F
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Today I got up at 3:15 AM to get a 4:00 AM bus to the geysers. It was probably a bit much since I slept in a bus the night before but I was hanging out with a couple from Argentina who wanted to go and so I went too. Travelling alone, you have to adjust your schedule sometimes to hang out with people but other times, like this time it was not a good idea.

We got to the geysirs at 6 AM and had a small breakfast. It was freezing! Because we were going to a thermal spring I wore my sandals ... wrong move. I figured it would be 40 degrees but at 14000 feet it was 20! Sometimes I lack common sense but I devised a plan to keep my feet warm ... plastic bags. It actally worked! It was hard to see predawn but you could hear the bubbling all around.
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The geothermal field was massive! After it started getting light, the ground and landscape revealed reds and greens. Ice coated the hillside.
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By about 9:30 it was time to swin in a rustic hot spring in the middle of the geysir field. It was nice while I was in the water.
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It was sometime between this and the first town that we stopped at, Machuca, I began to feel sick ... weak with a stomach ache like the day I turned green. However, I sipped water and rested as much as I could and all was fine.
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The last stop was to view a cactus grove, like Arizona, but a different type of cactus, the cardon cactus, that doesn't hold water.
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There was some running water here by the cactus grove, but Pablo, our guide said that 100km south of where we were it is so dry that it would take 1000 years to fill up a teacup with water! The guide was also very nice and when I said I had a stomach ache he gave me some natural herbs rica rica to drink as a tea to help the stomach.

Posted by solorooster 15:52 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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