Our group set off easily before dawn today, as we had shared a dorm, and a third of the travellers had vomited or fainted through the restless night due to altitude sickness. I was fine even though we drove up to 4900 metres this morning.
On the way to the border post, a tiny shack in the windy desert, we passed colourful, mineral rich mountains and lagoons.
Bubbling mud pools surrounded geysers.
Some soaked in the hot springs on the edge of a flamingo filled lake, but at -5 degrees, I was not tempted.
On the second day in the Altiplano, we saw vicunas, llamas, flamingos
and these chinchilla-like creatures. There were dead coral, eroded rock, and bubbles of rock covered in tiny plants.
I saw ancient burial pits, a mini tornado
and a shopping centre with a smoking volcano behind it.
I took a three day jeep tour across the Altiplano to Chile. On the first day we crossed the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s biggest salt flat.
Lunch was llama and quinoa on the salt, watching the mirages.
This hotel was made of salt blocks.
We visited a cactus island, then watched the sun set.
My bus traversed the strait on a raft, the passengers in a small, rocking boat, to reach the lakeside town of Copacabana. The man below is in the Bolivian navy, stationed at the lake since Bolivia lost its coastline.
At a waterfront stall I ate fried trout with tomato chilli salsa and fresh lime on a bed of giant white corn kernels with black potatoes on the side. At a cafe, I had Inca Cola and coca tea.
A ferry delivered me to Isla del Sol, the island which was the birthplace of the Incan sun god.
I hiked past the ruins of the Temple of the Sun, donkeys, sheep, llamas and Incan agricultural terraces still in use today.
This mud brick thatched home boasts location, location, location!
I turned off the trail at the village which boasts the fountain of youth, but on close inspection, decided that partaking would most likely shorten my life.
I walked down the stairs, flanked by gurgling Incan irrigation channels, with as much dignity as I could muster, given the speed with which this heavily burdened elderly villager overtook me.
The snowcapped Cordillera Real rose above the lake at the dock.
The city’s built on a steep mountain at an altitude of 3600 metres, so the views are breathtaking, but so is walking!
I gasped my way to the witches’ market today, where potions, herbs, oils, barks, talismans, amulets and pachamama (earth mother) figurines are sold.
Endless mountains had dirt roads along the ridges.
This is the view from my bed.
After a spicy chicken and potato stew for $2.50 at a market stall, I joined the crowd in the plaza watching a dance performance.