The viewing area at the lodge's watering hole.
The viewing area at the lodge's watering hole.
Misoshiru: Miso Soup
Misoshiru: Miso Soup
Desierto de Dali
Desierto de Dali

Day 2 started off nice an early.  4:30 or thereabouts, definitely within what is called the “madrugada” in Spanish.  None of us slept well that night thanks to the well-below-freezing temperatures and the 4,200m of altitude.  I slept in long-johns, a tshirt, a long-sleeve shirt, my fleece inside of a sleeping bag under three heavy wool blankets and I was still pretty cold.  Our driver loaded our stuff on top of the jeep while we chowed down on some breakfast.

We pulled out of San Antonio de Lipez around 5AM and headed for the ruins of a deserted town.  Along the way we had to forge a number of frozen-over streams.  The old mining town was one of the many places where the Spanish forced the Incans to dig for silver.  The story has it that the town is now haunted.  Visiting the town in the pre-dawn twilight gave it an even creepier feel.  The only remaining resident is this nice fluffy viscacha.

A viscacha!
A viscacha!

We pressed on through a 4,855m mountain pass with a great view of Lago Morejon and Volcano Uturuncu (6,0008m).  Frost on covered the ground that was shadowed from the sun by the small hearty shrubs that manage to flourish at this altitude.  Walking just a few yards on level ground proved to be enough to make us winded.

We descended from the pass and crossed a few more rivers – one of them was quite deep and I was happy that the door seals on our Toyota were in good shape!  Temperatures remained quite low but the intense sunshine made being outside much more bearable.  We visited another high-altitude lake where borax mining was underway.

Passing by the settlements of Quetena Chico and Quetena Grande, we entered the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve of Andean Fauna.  The  lunch stop was at some hot springs at the aptly named Aguas Calientes.  We could bathe if we wanted although I just put my feet in the water.   Once lunch was finished we crossed the Desierto de Dali and reached the shore of Laguna Verde.  The lake is free of wildlife because of the naturally-occuring arsenic in its waters.  The element gives the lake its color.  The stop at Laguna Verde was the southernmost point on our tour and we were just a short distance from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile where we had traveled a few days prior.

Laguna Verde with Volcan Licancabur (5950m) behind
Laguna Verde with Volcan Licancabur (5950m) behind

Heading back north we made a stop at Geisers Sol de Mañana, a geyser field just below 5000m altitude.  Most of the activity is steam vents but there are also a few boiling mud pots to be seen (if you dare go close enough).  The highest point on the tour was just a little further ahead at 5,000m (16,400ft) and we got there just in time to see another tour jeep broken down on the road.  Despite the fact that it was a competing company, we stopped (along with seven others) to lend a hand.  These guys definitely work together when things go wrong!

We made it to the village of Huaylljara just before sunset and prepared for another cold night.  Dinner was pique macho, a traditional french-fries-covered-in-everything-unhealthy dish that hit the spot.  Afterwards, we all competed around the camp’s single wood stove while we learned a new card game from our Dutch friends.  And that was that, another great day in Bolivia.

Laguna Colorada
Laguna Colorada
Southwest Circuit Day 2
Incan ruins
Incan ruins
A viscacha!
A viscacha!
Morning frost
Morning frost
Forging rivers
Forging rivers
Middle of nowhere
Middle of nowhere
Hot springs
Hot springs
Lunch at the hot springs.  Meat balls, pasta, veggies and salad
Lunch at the hot springs. Meat balls, pasta, veggies and salad
Driving across the Desierto de Dali
Driving across the Desierto de Dali
Desierto de Dali
Desierto de Dali
Laguna Verde with Volcan Licancabur (5950m) behind
Laguna Verde with Volcan Licancabur (5950m) behind
When a truck breaks down, all the tour operators chip in to help.
When a truck breaks down, all the tour operators chip in to help.
Laguna Colorada
Laguna Colorada
Traditional Bolivian food for dinner: Pique (french fries topped with meats and eggs).  There was veggie pique for Amy as well!
Traditional Bolivian food for dinner: Pique (french fries topped with meats and eggs). There was veggie pique for Amy as well!

2 Responses to “Bolivia’s Southwest – Day 2”

  1. Wow, I am finally caught up! All the mileage running this month really causes lots of things to slip.

    Anyways…all your blog is doing is making me fantasize about hitting the road again. Stop it!

    Santiago: I agree, not too exciting but pleasant enough.

    That flamingo pic from a prior entry–wow!

    The desolate landscapes from everywhere you’re going in Chile/Arg/Bol are so pristine and gorgeous–great shots.

  2. I like the Bolivian take on poutine =)

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