Today we embark on a 3 day 4x4 tour of the Altiplano Region of Bolivia. Day one we explore the salt flats. A huge expanse of white as far as the eye can see. If not for the high temperatures you would be forgiven for thinking you were driving over the frozen, Arctic Sea. Huge effort put into trying to take the good old trick photo. A good day all in all. We spend the night in a little dusty town and drink much of the night away with our travel companions. "Kings Cup" is an interesting game.
2nd day we travel through the Siloli Desert, a spectacular place surrounded by sleeping, snow topped volcanoes, like diamonds piercing the desert. We visit various lagoons - the white, the red, the green, the chocolate - all living up to their name's sake. Thousands of pink flamingoes call this home.
I love the various colours and textures of the desert sand itself - from the fine to the coarse, the granulated to the gigantic - it's an ever changing pattern. Tonight we sleep in a hostel some 5000 meters high. My bed is steel spring, it lost it integrity a long time ago. I feel like I'm sleeping in a tea cup.
430am wake up call on the 3rd day. We've entered the Atacama Desert, the driest in the world. We chase the sun as it rises in the midst of spitting and steaming geysers, an apt reminder that this dry and arid place is seething below the surface.
We proceed to the 38 degree hot springs. It's still early morning in the desert and cold so I change into my swim shorts faster than a West End performer between scenes and stumble into the steamy pool forgetting my sunburned legs...ouch! The pain eases and the pleasure increases.
Reluctantly, we leave and finally reach the Bolivian and Chilean border late in the morning. These last 3 days remind me that Bolivia may be a poor country but its rich in beauty and culture.