Potosi, Sucre, Tupiza, Uyuni and Atacama Desert

Trip Start Aug 23, 2012
Trip End Aug 20, 2013

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Monday, November 5, 2012

Hopefully this entry makes sense; it's been awhile since my brain has had the luxury of oxygen…

From La Paz we set off to Potosi, Sucre and Tupiza which, to be honest, is a bit of a blur thanks to the altitude (averaging around 3500m) and the constant presence of severe dehydration combined with some kind of food poisoning; never before have we eaten so much plain pizza - simply because there are no vegetables or meat on it and pizza is weirdly served at pretty much every restaurant in Bolivia... Potosi hosts a working silver mine with absolutely abhorrent working conditions including mine shafts with a temperature of +40 loaded with asbestos – the average life of a miner is 10 years from when they start working; life in Bolivia in general is not an easy one so I remain grateful for night-after-night of plain pizza.

On our way to Tupiza we stopped for a bushcamp in the middle of the desert to celebrate 2 birthdays, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night with a fancy-dress BBQ complete with fireworks – which, thanks to the effects of alcohol + altitude - were fired directly at our tents. Daryn and I dressed up as 'awesome locals’; I tried to convince a local woman to sell me a goat to complete my costume, but sadly - no luck. Remember how I won the ‘summit challenge’ on the Inca Trail which meant Daryn had to shave his moustache? Well, in place of his moustache, he has taken up wearing the orange poncho in the evenings and sleeping in his hat; subsequently, I am now trying to convince him his moustache was mucho bueno and he should grow it back in hopes he will stop wearing the ridiculous poncho. Karma is a bitch.

From Tupiza we headed to Uyuni to the Salt Flats. As we passed numerous shrines to people who have died in crashes on the flats, our guide explained that vehicles can’t drive over 100kms/h over the salt otherwise the tires will explode – not reassuring considering our speed and the fact the speedometer didn’t work… I have included the Wikipedia link to the Salt Flats as we were far more concerned with taking funny pictures of each other than actually listening to the guide’s explanation so I can’t really tell you much about the place other than it is big, salty and scratchy.

Departing Uyuni we headed into the Atacama Desert for 3 very difficult days - the days were hot, windy and sandy and the nights were absolutely freezing – one girl on the truck recorded the temperature as -18 in the middle of the night – even my alpaca pants couldn’t keep out the cold. The average altitude was around 4000m, with the highest point being a literally breathtaking 5020m. Frozen and demented from lack of oxygen, we were treated to sleeping on the floor of a restaurant in the middle of nowhere for the final night – bliss. Despite the conditions, the views were spectacular.

Next stop – San Pedro, Chile – where there is a reported abundance of nice weather and oxygen. Hope everyone is well – thanks for the comments!
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Theo on

I shall think of Potosi's miners each time I feel negative about work and remind myself I have it good... Taking those pictures on the salt flats looked a blast!

Shan on

Finally catching up on your blog! Missing you two lots and so good to hear you are having a fab time. Shan xx

mom on

The pictures at the salt flats are awesome-at first I wondered how Daryn climbed to the top of the beer bottle, but it was just a trick. Hopefully you are finished with the cold night temps.

evelyn on

good to hear from you guys, send some of the salt, we could use it for the roards. I guess Pizza and Beer will be off the menue for awhile.

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