Archive for the 'South America' Category

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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 !

 

 

 

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At 6 AM on Wednesday, October 11 we left Uyuni Town and headed south 3 hours to the southwestern corner of Bolivia – not far from where the country meets with Chile and Argentina. There, we left the highway and would not see a paved road until the return to Uyuni two and a half days later.

The only settlements were some mining and farming villages.

Llamas, a distant relation to camels, are a source of wool and meat, are semi – domesticated , grazing for scarce vegetation and sometimes return to pens, herded by dogs and farmers.

Spring snowmelt brings some drinking water.

The land is rugged and never dips below 12,000 feet. By this time , TotalAdventure is quite comfortable with the altitude. We stopped at a hot springs at mid day. Please view the video above to see it. Swimming was balmy at 105 degrees ( 41C) while there air was around 40 ( 5 C).

 

Climbing higher, we reached Laguna Verde. The green color comes from a high concentration of arsenic. Swimming in or drinking from the lake can be fatal. There are no fish ,birds or four footed animals anywhere near the lake.

Close to 16,000 feet we reached the remains of winter snows, that actually can fall in the summer as well. The strong dry wind and strong subtropical sun  three miles above sea level evaporate it into strange shapes.

The ground underneath is always frozen.

From underneath the frozen ground comes boiling sulphur clouds. All of the Bolivian Altiplano borders the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Llama and quinoa for lunch. Tough and lean, but tasty and very healthy !

A steam vent.

Rock formations that look manmade but aren’t.

We spent the night at Hotel Tayka. See more in the video. Amazingly at 15,500 feet, ten hours over very rugged dirt tracks from the nearest paved road , that such a hotel can exist. Comfortable beds, reasonable heat and solar generated hot water  (quick shower) .Oxygen is kept behind the front desk for those in need.

The next morning we explored several lakes that were home to huge flocks of flamingos. Most people think of flamingos as a bird of the tropics – but here they thrive in  very cold temperatures.

A coyote enjoys some llama meat.

San Pedro de Quemes  from another Tayka Hotel.

The town store closes early, but has the essentials.

On The last night in Bolivia, TotalAdventure looked forward to Salar de Uyuni the next day.

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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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.

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On the night of October 3, 2015 –  TotalAdventure boarded  LAN’s 787 Dreamliner from Miami to Santiago. It was the start of a two week journey,  with the main focus on the Adventure Travel World Summit in Puerto Varas Chile.

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The trip covered a huge range – from the snowy Andes to the steamy Amazon.

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After clearing customs in Santiago, TotalAdventure boarded a 90 minute flight to Puerto Montt, which was near Puerto Varas.

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It was a cold misty day – especially for someone who had just flown from the 95 degree heat of Miami.

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TotalAdventure warmed up with a  piping hot bowl of Parihuela – a fresh spicy seafood stew. For TotalAdventure’s Chilean adventures – CLICK HERE !

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After a long and productive week at the Adventure Travel World Summit, where TotalAdventure met with hundreds of Adventure Travel companies who will be part of the TotalAdventure community, we headed back north to the sunny springtime of Santiago.

The next morning my host and I headed one hour from Los Condes to the top of El Colorado. October 12 was supposed to the the last day of a long season -El Niño has dropped many meters over the winter – but even more heavy snow later that week kept the mountain open to November 1 – the equivalent of May 1 in the Northern Hemisphere.

Afterwards we headed back down to Santiago so that I could catch my evening flight to Buenos Aires. The snow is only at the highest elevations.

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THe temperature was nearly 70 degrees ( 21 C ) just one hour below in the Valley. For TotalAdventure packages in Chile – CLICK HERE !