Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Siloli Desert-Llamas, Vicunas and Flamingos

Refreshed from a good nights sleep, after breakfast our drivers loaded the jeeps and we headed out into the remoteness that is the Siloli Desert. I could see no one but us every direction we looked. We were driving on hard mud and  clay but it was still part of the salt flats. It reminded me a bit of the area around the Grand Canyon.

We passed many wild vicuna and llamas with their shepherd.

As we got closer to the base of the mountains we got into some scrubby vegetation.

We stopped in a place called the coral or stone army. This area used to be under the sea millions of years ago. We were told to watch out for a little armadillo that is rather awkward and if your not looking you can step on him. Unfortunately he did not show up. The large  coral blicks are scattered everywhere so it does kind of look like an army.

Our next short stop was at a railway track in the middle of nowhere.  We soaked in the scenery,  played around on the tracks and ate chocolate biscuits that our guide David handed out.

Back in the jeep, David kept a soundtrack of great tunes while we drove through the amazing landscape. The group in the other van were quite envious because they had been getting nonstop Bolivian folk music...not that there is anything wrong with Bolivian folk music.

The landscape  in Bolivia changes quickly. As we drove higher in altitude, the terraine became more mountainous. A 2,500 year old plant which looked like either broccoli or a green brain but was hard in texture was easy to spot. 

We had an opportunity to try llama sausage but nobody was hungry. 

We continued on our way, travelling up in altitude. Our jeep drove along a rocky track that had steep drop offs and no guardrails...you get the picture.

We passed mountains that looked like they were painted in technicolor. Awesome.

And then we were in flamingo paradise. We arrived at a lagoon that was about 3/4 covered in salt and flamingos were hanging out in the other quarter while llamas grazed on shore. This was the place where they set up the tables and chairs for lunch. We were at about 4,100 meters above sea level.  Besides being a tad breathless, we felt fine.

After lunch, we continued to drive up in altitude. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, we arrived at a lagoon that had even more flamingos.

We stopped for photos overlooking a lake polka- dotted with thousands of pink flamingos. It felt like we were on top of the world but we still ascended to higher elevations.

Our next stop was at 4,690 meters. We were in the Siloli Desert, the highest desert in South America. We had a great view of the Seven Colour Mountain.

We stopped at a rock outcrop where we watched the Viscacha (a large rabbit like rodent with a long tail) playing in the rocks. Very cute.

Next on the itinerary was an area of strangely formed rocks. I felt like I was on the set of a star wars movie.

Our final stop before our hotel was the red lagoon which is 300,000 years old, needless to say, it is a very old lagoon. The red colour comes from a type of algae . It is surrounded by four main volcanoes.

Our hotel for the night was in a really remote area and it was quite basic. As a matter of fact, the five of us from our jeep stayed in the same room. It was kind of fun, like a sleep over.

There was no heating and we only had a few hours of electricity from the generator. The temperature outside was dropping.

David heated the dining room with a propane heater. We had tea and a really good pasta supper. There was also wine with dinner.

After supper, we layered up and went out to check the stars. The sky was so clear especially the Milky Way because there was no light pollution. We didn't stay out long because it was really cold.

We all went to bed early cause we needed to be up for 4am. I slept in my merino wool leggings, long sleeve top, hat and gloves. Under the covers I was warm and toasty. 

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