Published: August 17th 2011August 16th 2011
Armed with 10 litres of water, sunscreen that would send the sun crying, and more layers than an onion, we headed off through the Bolivian desert for 3 days and 2 nights. It hadn't rained across the desert for over 20 years, but a week before we set off it had SNOWED heavily!! The travel agent wasn't sure (as she took our money) if the tour would even go ahead, but luckily it did and the snow that was left added to the amazing scenery.
There were 6 of us in our 4x4 jeep plus the driver. With no roads to use, the driver navigated his way through the ups and downs, bumps and blows by using the mountains as his guide (needless to say I was tanked up on travel sickness tablets!). The journey on the first day took us to lagoons, hot springs and geezers before stopping for the night in the most random hostel in the middle of nowhere. We had been told to prepare for the cold (it dropped it about minus 10 at night), but we weren't prepared for the altitude (about 4,800 mtrs above sea level). As a result, none of the 6 of
us had a decent nights sleep with the headaches and general 'I think I'm having a heart attack' altitude panic!!
Day 2 of the trip we got some amazing sights; flamingos, valley of the rocks, some more lagoons and stunning mountains and valleys. Day 2 was also Bolivia day, so in each of the towns we visited there were parades, presentations and brass bands (Paddy's day on a smaller scale and with less drunk teenagers). That night we stayed in the Salt Hostel @ the edge of the Salt Plains. The hostel had salt walls, salt floors and the beds were mattresses on salt slabs - crazy!
The next morning we headed for the Salt Flats and spent a great morning on Incahausi island, taking many, many pictures on the Slat plains and visiting the Salt Hotel. The tour then finished up with a visit to the train graveyard on the outskirts of Unyi.
After 3 days of desert-trekking we treated ourselves to a hotel (no 's' missing there!) in Unyi which was a real treat! The day after we took a night bus to La Paz. It's been a long time since we've been in a country
as poor as Bolivia, and while that does have it's upside (cheap beer) one of the downsides were the roads - or lack thereof! As a result, the first 160km (4 hours....) of the journey was on ground that was unpaved. The whole bus shook and rumbled along as bags fell from the overhead storage like snow in the deset - it was unreal!
We managed to get some sleep and woke up in La Paz where the amazing Nugo and Ciara were! We spent 2 nights in La Paz catching up on the news, haggling with the locals for cheap wool products, visiting the cocoa museum, being entertained by magic and generally seeing how much spirits we could get drunk bar men to pour into pint glasses for us!
After a fantastic couple of days we had to say goodbye to the ladies :( and headed further north to Copa...Copacabana on the edge of Lake Titicaca. From here we did a day trip and walking tour of the Inca Isla del Sol and saw some pre-Inca ruins. Something I have learnt about those Incas so far - steps do not phase them!!!!
There are more photos below