La Paz, highest capital city in the world at nearly 4000 metres above sea level. It is an absolutely crazy place and we loved it!
On the streets there is absolutely everything you could ever wish to buy, (we now have hair straighteners once again and the second series of Lost). Plus a witches market to curse or charm anyone you wish.
In La Paz, we visited another set of pre-incan ruins in Tihuanaca. They were pretty cool, though not fully excavated, and to be honest we were all ruined-out by then anyway. The true highlight of our adventures in La Paz was the local wrestling.
Bolivians like their wrestling and in La Paz every Sunday they stage their own version. Sooo, we decided to investigate and were thoroughly glad we did. To start off with there was a quite elderly man battling a man dressed up as Michalangelo from the Ninja turtles. We wondered how this could be topped when out they came, a short person dressed as Chucky from child´s play being cheered on by the Bride of Chucky! Pure brilliance - dwarf wrestling! Then just when you think it can´t get better they have two women in tradition bolivian/peruvian clothing wrestling! All the while there is rotten fruit being chucked about, and our bottle of coke was taken by the female wrestler so that she could pour it over the other! Priceless. Unfortunately the pics are on a disposable camera, so will have to wait for us to scan them in.
After this experience, we moved south in Bolivia on a nightmare journey to Uyuni where we started our tour of the Salt Flats, the largest in the world. The tour consisted of 4 days in a 4x4 with 5 other people experiencing the sites of the salt flats and the surrounding desert. It was amazing.
From the moment we set out on the salt we were stunned. For as far as the eye can see in all directions there´s salt! With the sunshine it was dazzling. We even went to a hotel in the middle of this expanse which was made entirely of salt - weird. The sunset against the backdrop of the volcano (where our accomodation was!) really cannot be done justice by the photos, but we hope you get a sense of it.
The next day brought the unwanted task of climbing the volcano! It was very hot and very steep so most of the trekkers so only managed half way, like ourselves. It was good exercise though and were some great views of the salt flats and the volcano itself.
The next day was a lot more civilised (though salt free as we moved onto the desert) as we set off to see flamingos, lots of them, in different spectacular lagoons. There was a small lagoon, a big lagoon, even a red lagoon (it turns red in the afternoon due to the sun and the presence of a special algae). The flamingos are amazing and so elegant in their remote and breathtaking setting. We just gazed at them for ages.
Then came the final day, and a 4am wake up call so we could see the nearby geysers at their most active. It was brilliant but rather aromatic. They were steaming like crazy and we had to dodge a few very active sulphuric eruptions. After marvelling at these it was time for a well earned morning dip in some natural thermos - a real antedote for the freezing morning air (it was 7 am and 5000 metres above sea level). Our last port of call was the Green Lagoon. This was a brilliant site set against another volcano! No flamingoes in this lake as it is full of weird minerals to give it its colour, including arsenic - beautiful but deadly.
It was sad and emotional when we had to leave Bolivia, our 4x4 and our great group, but our whirlwind tour of Chile awaited and we were eager to get there.......
(ps we've skipped a couple of bits, Lake Titicaca for one thing, which we'll add in a few days, so if you get lots of alerts, dont be alarmed, but do have a read when you're bored...)