Archive for the 'Andes' Category

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Medellín, the City of Eternal Spring. In The Tierra Temporada, the temperature rarely goes below 55 or above 85.

On the morning of January 22, 2022 , TotalAdventure left US territory for the first time in almost 2 years on a 3.5 hour flight from Miami to Medellín .

The US was in its’ last COVID panic phase, so it was great to get to a country where people were out enjoying life ! Saturday night was rocking !
Street Performers At Every Intersection.
High Above The Andean City.
Medellín Is Also Famous For Artist Francisco Botero
Botero.
Botero.
Medellín By Night.

After a great weekend – it’s time to head south to Cali and the Colombian Pacific.

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TotalAdventure flew from Cali to Santa Marta – from the Pacific to the Atlantic in one day. Arriving in Santa Marta at night I had a swim in the pool, then off to the Old City for supper. Now a laid back tourist town – where the barren brown Andes meet the Caribbean – Santa Marta was the main trans shipment point for cocaine to Miami back in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In Santa Marta, I attempted to rent a 4X4 pickup tuck, but all that was available was a little eggbeater of some Kia sort of car. I then set off for the wilds of La Guajira.

Incredible Places To Eat Along The Highways. Vegan is often not option – just salad or rice and beans.
Fresh Grouper on the coast of La Guajira Peninsula.
A simple hotel room in San Juan del Cesar, $ 30 ( 120,000 Pesos) Per Night. Great AirCon and WiFi.
In the video you will see the journey through the desert. Life is hard in the Guajira – local people were selling a bitter fruit by the side of the road. I did buy some in support, but it was unpalatable and fed it to goats instead. La Guajira is one of the regions now safer to travel since the Peace Treaty was signed with FARC. FaRC is still active in scattered regions. TotalAdventure then drove through the Sierra Madres del Santa Marta back down to the Caribbean.
TheColombia Adventure ended in Cartagena, where I turned in the little Eggbeater and relaxed in the excellent rooftop pool of my hotel. It was my first time back since April,1988 when I was a reporter of the Trans Amazon Rallye. Check out the primitive but amazing website from 1995.
In a back street of the Ciudad Vieja.
Rooftop Pool – Great at the end of a long hot day.
Caribbean Sunset. To the West is Panama.
One day in Cartagena I went to meet an old family friend, the Artist Rafael Ortiz . Above, the artist in his studio.
Rafael Ortiz Art.

Rafael Ortiz Art.

The Artist directed this mural in a Barrio near the studio. To See more of Rafael’s work ,please visit his Instagram

After 11 Days in Colombia, TotalAdventure returned to Miami on the 2hour, 45 minute flight. flight – around the same time as to go to New York from Miami. Note the plane boards from both front and back – 15 minutes total as opposed to 45 minutes in the States.

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TotalAdventure explored Bolivia from October 8th to 14th – in the high Altiplano , Lake Titicaca , Lipiz Sur and Salar de Uyuni .We landed at El Alto – the world’s highest commercial airport at 14,000 feet. Getting off the plane, after a six hour flight from sea-level Miami – literally takes your breath away.

La Paz – sits at 12,000 feet – this photo is taken from 14,000 feet. As the city is vertical, instead of an underground Metro train, there are gondolas rising to all sections of the city – complete with different colored lines and transfer stations. Bolivia is really like two different countries . The cold dry ,sometimes snowy highlands with Andean cultire and languages – Aymara and Quechua. In many areas it is winter year around. In the hot humid lowlands it is summer year around – the Northern area being part of Amazonia. TotalAdventure was transported by two different guides, arranged by Pierre Lipiko  .  One arranged price included driver/guide, car, hotel and most meals.

Please read the articles below to follow a TotalAdventure in Bolivia !

 

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After TotalAdventure left La Paz , driven by our driver/guide Juan , we drove past mountains  towering up to 21000 feet, perpetually covered in snow. This area of Bolivia lies at 17 South Latitude – equal to Trancoso Brazil, with beautiful  tropical beaches , or the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Elevation makes the transition from Tropic to Arctic.

After about two hours we arrived at Lake Titicaca. At 12,500 feet ( 3800 m) it is the world’s highest navigable lake.

Only six hours from Miami, TotalAdventure is in a very different world.

Fishermen can live on giant reed rafts for weeks – living on fish and fresh lake water.

The water never goes above 52 degrees. Only one kind of fish, a trout , lives there. On every restaurant menu.

Modern Day Incas.

Sunset Over Peru.

Monday, October 9th, began with a visit to the Cathedral in Copacabana, the main town on Lake Titicaca.

 

We drove to the north of La Paz and El Alto towards the extremely high Andes.

 

Past a Shaman Burial Ground.

TotalAdventure spent the night at 4800 meters , 15,600 feet.

The accommodations were Spartan. There was no heat or fire as no trees grow in such high altitudes. The temperature dropped to 15 F , -10 C outside, not much warmer inside.

Coca Leaf Tea keeps us warm and healthy.

 

In the morning we drove up to Chacaltaya – until recently the world’s highest ski resort at 17,200 feet. Also at 17 degrees south, the closest ski resort to the Equator. However, the glacier disappeared by 2005, so the resort had to rely completely on snow and is more or less closed.

TotalAdventure was at the highest altitude we have ever been outside an airplane.

Skiers can climb up to about 18,000 feet to ski down.

 

In the afternoon we descended below La Paz ,driving six hours south into the desert.

In the distance is Salar de Uyuni.

Arriving in Uyuni Town. Here TotalAdventure switched guides and vehicles in preparation for Lipiz Sur !

 

 

 

Nov 27th
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On the final day in Bolivia, Friday, October 13, we crossed the world’s largest salt flat – the Salar de Uyuni – 11,000 square kilometers  at an elevation of 12,000 feet, with no variation of  more than a few inches in elevation – extraordinary flatness! It was once an inland sea hundreds of thousands of years ago.

There is no speed limit and nothing to run into. While it looks hot, the temperature was only in the 60s due to high elevation, thought the sun can burn severely !  The nights are frigid, with temperatures far below freezing.

The mountains in this photo are about 35 miles distant.

After driving at top speed for about an hour we arrive at Isla Incahuasi. The small amount  of moisture received in December and January permits the cactus to grow.

Spring flowers on the cactus.

 

A Star Wars Experience.

Camping on the bottom of the sea.

Back on the move ,we stopped for an obligatory touristic shot.

Light As A Feather !

By mid afternoon the crossing is complete . Here, every January the Paris -Dakar Rallye moved from Africa because of terrorism, passes though here.

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On a beautiful Southern Hemisphere Spring Monday,October 16, TotalAdventure took part in a Day of Adventure , a prelude to the Adventure Travel World Summit 2017 in the high desert city of Salta in Northwest Argentina. Our host was Salta Rafting – they really create an amazing experience!

First our group of 45 adventure company leaders climbed a small mountain in order to reach the first platform – where we flew through the air at 30 mph. ( 55 km) at 150 meters ( 500 feet ) above the river. There were a total of 4 crossings, as seen in the video above.

Afterwards we changed into wetsuits and and rafted the mildly challenging river we had just ziplined across. The rapids were Class 2 and Class 3.

Special Thanks to David Figereau of Ideia Tours in Recife, Brazil for always telling me if the camera ( strapped to TotalAdventure’s head) was rolling. TotalAdventure will soon return to posts from the Bolivia Adventure as soon as we have proper high speed connectivity for video upload.

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October 11th , we left at 6 AM from Uyunyi Town to drive about 3 hours to the Lipiz Sur region, in the extreme Southwest of Bolivia, in the 15,000 foot range along the Chilean border. We left the paved road, which we would not see again for 2 days. Above is Laguna Verde, a beautiful lake at 15,000 feet. Laguna Verde is actually arsenic, and is deadly to all life forms.

Though it is early spring , the temperature does not go above freezing ,even in the day and at night falls to about 10 degrees F or about -14 C. Snow that fell in July and August is sculpted by the high dry winds. However ,TotalAdventure did swim in a 40 C hot spring. That is all on video. Unfortunately due to very slow hotel internet speeds, video will be added later. Even to upload still photos can take several minutes.

 

Thousands of years of freezing dry winds created this natural sculpture.

Before heading into the mountains , TotalAdventure took video of llamas.They are not wild, but do graze independently. THeir owners use them for wool and meat. Llama meat is tasty but tough – lean and high protein. Goes well with quinoa.

As evening approaches, the temperature drops rapidly. For astronauts heading to Mars, Lipiz Sur would be a perfect training venue. The night was spent at a comfortable lodge at 15,500 feet with hot water,  hot meals and even a bar. Video to follow.

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This is a very quick post as TotalAdventure has been on the road for two days, spending last night in a mountain refuge with not much sleep. On the road at 6AM tomorrow,

A 21,000 foot mountain. Name to be updated later. We went as high as 17,200.

Mate de coca is legal everywhere in the Andean Republics and is used to treat altitude sickness.

 

La Paz from 14,000 feet.

Lake Titicaca Duck.

Shaman Graveyard,

Hauri.

Solar Uyuni Sunset,

Oct 9th
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After A Six Hour Flight From Miami, Our Flight Landed At El Alto – The World’s Highest Airport – 13,850 Feet – Four Kilometers Above Sea Level.

The Surrounding Andes Are Even Higher – Up To 21,000 Feet – 6000 Meters.

We Drove Down Into La Paz To Refresh.

And Then Got On The Road To Lake Titicaca.

At 12,000 Feet It Is The World’s Highest Inland Navigable Body Of Water. Lake Tahoe Is Tiny In Comparison.

A Reed Boat – In Use By The Incas For Hundreds Of Years. Aymara, Is The Language Here, Not Spanish.

Sunset Over Lake Titicaca. Peru Is In The Distance. Bolivia Is An Amazingly Different World,So Close To Miami.

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Tonight At 10:30 PM ,TotalAdventure departs Miami for La Paz Bolivia. After a relatively short short flight from MIA , which sits at just above Sea Level, our plane will land at the world’s highest commercial airport – El Alto at 13,323 Feet ,  4100 Meters – descending only about 60% from cruising altitude. For the next week TotalAdventure will explore the highest peaks of the Andes, Lake Titicaca and Salar de Uyuni  before moving south into Argentina for the Adventure Travel World Summit in Salta.