More Lagunas and Uyuni

Trip Start Jan 08, 2014
1
12
18
Trip End Jan 25, 2014


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Where I stayed
What I did
Laguna Honda
Arbol de Pedras
Desert Dali
Ollagüe, Bolivia's only active volcano
Valle de las Rocas

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Saturday, January 18, 2014


We were up for our 7 am breakfast - wondering if it would actually come off.  In reality, the breakfast was ready before we were.  I tried to get ready without leaving the bed covers, but that wasn't that easy.  I think people had difficulty sleeping - some complained of a difficult night, i.e., Howard and Astrid.  The breakfast consisted of butter and jam, tea and coffee, and pancakes!  The pancakes weren't bad and I had two - they were medium-sized.  An Australian couple sat at the table next to us and their driver was supposed to pick them up at 4:30 am but hadn't arrived yet - now it was past 7 am.  They didn't speak Spanish so they asked for help.  Finally, he was woken up and they were off.  We had the impression he would get an earful, even if he couldn't understand it.

Today again, and especially a day later, I am having trouble remembering what we saw - but I think the first was the Arbol de pedras - or tree of stone - a veritable forest of rocks...with one free-standing rock that does resemble a tree.  We got to take photos and climb around for the best view.  I liked the tracks in the sand from the top of one rock.  There was also the solitary rock, shaped like a tree, that all the other people were standing in front of to have their photos taken.  When I came  back, Fernanda told me some guy had peed on it.  Weird, what people do.  Happily, he wasn't from the USA/

Oh, this was the day of the lagunas.  At first, I could only remember one:  Laguna Honda.  At this point I can't even remember what was distinctive about it.  Astrid and I went over this at lunch.  She said we walked to the top of a hill at the first, then drove around to where there were more flamingos but didn't stop there.  Then I remember stopping on the top of another larger hill and just looking out on the laguna - which was almost dried up.  We stopped at another that had a lot of fallen stones from buildings.  Jorge/Roger said they were Inca ruins and the tall, cylindrical structure was an oven, but Astrid doubted that and remembered seeing some sort of funerary monuments that were similar in another South American country.  Here there were also flamingos and lots of little birds, chirping away.  It was a very pretty site.  At some point there was a laguna that Jorge/Roger told us had a lot of sulfur and that accounted for its smell and maybe color as well.  I don't really remember that one.  I don't know if I noted this before but one of the earlier lagunas - from yesterday - also had lithium and the girls were joking that they had the hysterics in the thermal pool because of the lithium.

Today, I could see better why the Australian woman might have thought the roads were horrible - because they were worse than yesterday.  There were more rocks, ruts and potholes but still not huge potholes or anything that would damage the 4x4 unless you drove recklessly and Jorge takes really good care when he drives.  There were numerous tracks spreading out and he would try to choose the best one - maybe less sandy, less rutted, less corrugated, etc.  It seemed at times as if we were doing more driving than sight-seeing but we did get in a fair number of sights.  We would pile out of the vehicle at Jorge's words - Photo - and then back in when he started the engine or said vamos.  He may have had a few English words at times, but did try to communicate with short phrases - like muy linda - he seemed like a nice guy.  On one of the drives, between lagunas probably, we drove through the Desert Dali.  I am not sure why it was called that.  I think by this time it was getting cloudier.  We'll see if the photos bear this out.  We again went through big stretches of nothingness between distant volcanos - all extinct - and then, Jorge pointed out in the distance to our left: OllagŁe, the only active volcano in Bolivia and you could see the smoke coming out from the top.  Or I could, after much help from Astrid and the others.

Later in the day we traveled through a rockier area where there were rows of rocks on both sides of the track (Valle de Las Rocas) and Jorge pointed out the condor.  I wasn't sure it looked that much like a condor to me, but it could, I guess.  I did see a beaver head and could have tried to make out more - lots of the rocks stuck out like heads - so you could easily see lots of animals.

In the midst of all the lagunas and open spaces we did see some llamas - one quite big herd munching grass in a wet tussocked bofedal area - and a few scatterings of both llamas and vicunas elsewhere.  Even though fauna for the area includes alpacas, I don't remember seeing any, but there may have been some somewhere.  We also saw quite a few flamingos in the lagunas, very few of them close up, but as we passed, we did see a few pretty close.  Even then, it is difficult for me to get a good shot with my cameras.  I guess I really wasn't anticipating seeing much wildlife so I didn't bring my Nikon zoom lens.

I think we got into Uyuni around 5 pm.  It is kind of a strange hotel, run by the tour company.  The young woman manager brought our backpacks up to the third floor when Astrid requested a brighter room.  The room we ended up with is much nicer.  We can look down into the main street and watch the market. (In fact, Astrid just finished taking zoom photos from our window.)   I was feeling entirely beat, but we had some errands to run.  We got our bus tickets to Potosi for the 20th and I bought both postcards and stamps.  We came back to the hotel, and I was too tired to contemplate the 6 pm tea even though we saw the girls and Howard there.  I took a nap - I think Astrid did as well - and she woke me up at 7:50 pm to go to dinner - paid for by the tour company.  The hotel manager led us to a fast food chicken cafeteria where we had fried chicken dinners with rice, french fries and a green salad.  The chicken was quite good but the french fries were a disappointment:  obviously home-made and thick-cut, they were cold.  No drinks were offered with the meal...so we had none.

After coming back to the hotel, I think I tried to wash a few things and maybe do some organizing while Astrid went straight off to bed since she had lost sleep the previous night and we were getting up for 5 am the next morning to go to the Uyuni salt flats.

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