Thursday, 27 September 2007

Salta -> Bolivia -> Chile -> Peru

After leaving Salta, we had a mad-cap week of travelling up to Bolivia, across to Chile, down to Santiago to finally catch a flight all the way back up to Peru. We'd organised a tour from Argentina to take us to various places in Bolivia + Chile along the way, and while we where a bit nervous, it all worked out.

The first place we went was the Uyuni in Bolivia, which is famous for it's Salt Flats. These turned out to be pretty similar to the ones near Salta, but much much bigger - they are in fact the worlds largest, at over 10,000km².

First off we visited a nearby train graveyard:

Then we headed into the salt flats. This was a whole lot of white nothing:

There is almost no life at all in the salt flats, but there are some random island in the middle, covered with cactii:

After staying overnight in a hotel (though that's being generous) made entirely of salt, the next day we spent a lot of time travelling over the altiplano desert, with some pretty spectacular mountains and lakes along the way:

There was some interesting wildlife around, with a few Vicunas (similar to llamas), and also something fairly unexpected - a lot of flamingos! There are three different types that live in the Andeas.

That night we stayed at the 'Red Lake', where there where a lot more flamingos to be seen:

The next morning we got up early and went to see some geysers at 5000m (geysers are most active/visible at sun rise). These where very spectacular, lots of steam and boiling mud everywhere:

Then we went to the 'Green Lake', before crossing the border into Chile.

In Chile we stayed in San Pedro de Atacama, which is famous for the 'Moon Valley', so called because it looks like the surface of the moon.

The locals claim that this is where the US filmed the moon landing back in the '60s :) The big thing to do here is to go and watch the sunset in the valley, which leads to a fairly spectacular light show on the surrounding mountains:

We then got up at 4am (again!) to go look at some geysers in Chile. These were more boiling water rather than mud, but no less spectacular:

We then caught a flight down to Santiago (unfortunately delayed), which only gave us 6 hours there to sleep and the head back to the airport to fly up to Lima, where we took it easy for a couple of days!

Worlds Most Dangerous Road Part 2

This was a great day, though the legs are pretty stiff at the moment!

We started off at 'La Cumbre' (the peak), at 4,700m.

All geared up and ready to go:

Before heading off, we made an offering of alcohol to the Earth Mother, to protect us on the way down:

Man, that stuff was worse than Tequila! Probably not the best idea to get drunk before starting??

The first 20k's or so was mostly tarmac, so we could get used to the bikes (which were amazing!) etc. It wasn't all plain sailing though, one girl in our group had a pretty bad stack and had to pull out. Visibility wasn't much at times:

Then we got to the official 'most dangerous' part, 46k's of gravel, still straight down. The moment of choice:

Some shots of the road on the way down:

After about 6 hours or so we made down the bottom (1200m), a drop of 3500m! After some lunch and a beer we had to take the bus all the way back up, almost as hairy as going down! Will put some videos up once we're somewhere with decent bandwidth.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Worlds Most Dangerous Road

We arrived in La Paz yesterday, after spending some very relaxing time hanging out at Lake Titicaca. So far La Paz has been treating us very well also, we've managed to find the best showers in South America at the Adventure Brew.

To up the tension levels a bit, tomorrow we're taking pushies down the Worlds Most Dangerous Road, with Gravity Bolivia. Apparently on average one vehicle (usually a truck) goes over the side every two days. Can't wait!!

Here's a few photos from their web site to whet my appetite :)

Friday, 14 September 2007

So long between posts

We've been on the road for 3 weeks but wé've managed to fit alot in! After some "technical difficulties" the laptop is back in action and hopefully we'll have some photos up shortly.
The Uyuni Salt plains were a huge version of what we saw in Salta but there are islands of fossilised coral in the middle with cacti which is quite unexpected. Between here and the Atacama desert we saw two lots of geysers and lots of flamingos in high altitude lakes.
After a couple of days in Lima we made our way to Huaraz in the Cordillera Blanca. The town itself was rebuilt after a 1970s earthquake but the surrounding mountains are spectacularly beautiful. We went on the Santa Cruz trek up through hanging valleys close to the base of Alpamayo and crossed our highest pass so far at 4750m. There's significantly less oxygen up there!
Alojemiento Soledad, Huaraz was our base for "relaxing" while I did my interviews for jobs next year. Thankfully all of Tom's kind patience has paid off and I got offered a medical registrar job for next year last night!
We're in Trujillo now after a spectacular drive through the Cañon del Pato, a deep gash in the cordillera with mountains towering on both sides of a river. Yesterday we went to see the pre-Incan ruins of Chan Chan and the Huacas del Sol y Luna (Sun and Moon Temples) which have patterned Adobe walls.
So yes, lots of spectacular country. Better go get those photos organised!