Posts labeled with Country ' Bolivia'
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 !
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 !
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.
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.
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.
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.
Solar Uyuni Sunset,
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.
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.
Only 6 hours from Miami – Bolivia has every non-maritime adventure. Right now ArcticTropic has two links to destinations there . The video is 64 years old – but many things aspects of life haven’t changed much since then.