Atacama Desert tour - San Pedro, Chl to Uyani, Bol

Trip Start Nov 03, 2012
Trip End Dec 31, 2012

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Flag of Bolivia  , Potosí,
Thursday, November 8, 2012

Woke after a comfortable sleep earlier than needed.
Went to the reception to settle our bill before having breakfast of ham cheese and tomato roll, cereal, juice and a coco leaf tea.
We were not expecting to be picked up till 10am so we went into town for a wander, buy some water, locate stamps (if possible) and take a pic or two.
Found the water, no sign of stamps.
Went back to Campo Base to await our transfer to the Bolivian border.
We were picked up in a very stylish 4x4 with a cracked windscreen and a battery that refused to start the engine without the assistance of jumper leads. Twice we needed a jump, once, out the front of the hostel and once at the Chilean border station.
As he was driving us from the border station to the actual border (far out of San Pedro and out of mobile phone range; how he arranged the jump starts) it was a tad worrying.

The border in reality is only 30km from San Pedro but over that distance we go up from 2700m above sea level to 4500 m above sea level. Arriving at the border the sky is clear, the wind is brisk and there is a definite chill in the air. The border building itself is all business, no pretension.

Paperwork is the same entering Bolivia as it was entering Chile. Filling out a long sheet they tear off a copy of you basic detail that must be handed back on your exit. Unlike Chile however, the Bolivian government do not charge you to enter their country.

We met our guide Jose' and our driver Mcgyver, got in their dusty but instantly start able land cruiser and header off to see the lakes and painted landscapes of the country.

The land is barren, high and desolate and yet there is still quite a bit of life. Pecunias, a type of wild llama, foxes, condors, flamingos and small sparrow type birds.
The drive took us over sometimes invisible roads to painted valleys, rock formations a product of volcanic activity millions of years ago followed by constant wind.
Lunch was at a spot where the natural spring bubbled forth at a pleasing 30 degrees. A walled pool had been created for people to experience the natural soothing heat. We dipped our feet while we awaited a table to be free for our lunch of pickles, llama, tuna, potato, broccoli and fruit.

We stayed the night at Maliku Cueva Hotel (condors cave in the native language) at the edge of a village of fewer than 500 people.
Not much to look at it is (as often the case) an oasis on the inside. The room though spartan was covered in power points but there was no Internet connection to speak of which causes us concern in planning where we go from, let slone stay at, when we arrive in Uyuni. Altitude was hitting us with less than kitten gloves. Headaches, a general foggy ness and a lack of appetite played havoc with our enjoyment of our travels
Dinner was a vegetable soup followed by slow cooked lamb in a heavy gravy, rice, salad and potatoes. It may have been enjoyable if not for the slight touch of altitude sickness. Tina would not have touched the lamb in the first place, but fortunately Jose' and McGyver welcomed the extra serving.
Bed soon after, very comfortable, unless you like sleeping on your side, as the bed bruised your shoulder and hip relentlessly. Woke at 1:30, 2:45, 3:30 etc.
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sonia on

So you are eating your way through the national emblems? How dare you!

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