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Published: October 8th 2017
From Puno in Peru we took a bus along the Titikaka lake, including a crossing of a small strait, across the border to Bolivia, with again beautiful landscapes of the Andes peaks and volcanoes. We ended up in La Paz, again at around 4000 meters above sea level, with perfect sunny blue skies during the day and crystal clear and cold nights. La Paz was quite a pleasant surprise, being a combination of a modern city with a very strong indigenous presence and feel, with a very touristy ghetto like city centre though. We spent a few days wandering around the city with the snowy peaks as a continuous backdrop and visiting the enormous local bi-weekly market at the El Alto, the highest major metropolis in the world, with an average elevation of 4,150 meters above sea level and around 1 million inhabitants.
We did not really feel like going on one of the very touristy tours from the capital and decided to head further south to Oruro, the folkloric capital of the country, famous for its carnaval. Oruro felt more authentic than La Paz and we walked around the rather small city center and learned from our guides, the
guys from our hostel, everything about the history of the town, the carnaval, the mining and the current political situation of both the region and the country. From Oruro we went on a very convenient journey by train, on one of the remaining train tracks in Bolivia, across the altiplano, along huge lakes with thousands of flamingos and spectacular views while the sun was setting behind the Andes peaks.
The train brought us to Uyuni, the most popular town in Bolivia for its salt lakes. We hooked ourselves up with a tour agent and the next morning took of in a Toyota Landcruiser for three days of off-road cruising at the altiplano of southwest Bolivia, visiting the famous Salar de Uyuni, spectacular multi-coloured mountains, 6000 meter high volcanoes, coloured altiplano lagoons and geysers. The trip was worth the time and money spent, it was one of the highlights of our past 7 months of travelling. Although the altitude was still tiring and nights were bitterly cold, the landscapes were unreal and nature at its best.
There were volcanoes, vicunas and flamingos everywhere. We got to see both the sun rise and set, with beautiful panoramas everyday. Of course
we also got to see the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. It’s the legacy of a prehistoric lake that went dry, leaving behind a desertlike, nearly 11,000-sq.-km. landscape of bright-white salt, weird rock formations and cacti-studded islands. These enormous otherworldly salt flats, stretching to the horizon and beyond, made us feel null and void in this world, just specks in the big whole. The endlessness of it all is difficult to capture in pictures but with the panorama functions we have tried. The flatness of the area makes for good visual distortion and fun pictures. We even got to play in the snow at one of the highest passes of the trip. The last night we spent at a hostel at 4300 meters above sea level and the next morning we were cold to the bone, luckily we got to visit the geysers and a natural hot spring to warm up again.
After these few intense days and nights we left the altiplano, 8 hours by bus to the south, to the small town of Tupiza, at an altitude of just 2850 meters above sea level and at least ten degrees Celsius warmer both during the
day and during the night. This means we are now relaxing and re-energizing at the side of a swimming pool after we just had a Sunday roast with red wine, clearly we are close to the Argentinian border, and planning our next steps.
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