SW Bolivian Beauty

I am not one to normally take tours, but in potentially dangerous, tough to navigate, or ecologically fragile terrain, it´s the way to go.   The other issue is that some locations have many hidden treasures that cannot be found otherwise.  As you will see, the hundreds of miles of gravel roads and many jewels described below fit the definition of ¨tour guide needed¨all the way.

So from the southern town of Tupiza, I took off in our 4 wheel drive Toyota/Lexus jeep´with 3 wonderful French friends (Nicolas, Francois, and Lucia–Lucia and Francois work with French immigrants), and our great driver/guide and amazing cook couple, Lucio and Maria.  I´m down today from an attack of Tupac Amaru´s revenge, so can take the day to organize and sort photos, and post.   Allow me to show you some amazing sites, if you can take the time!

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Talk about divine intervention, of all the hundreds of guides in this part of Bolivia, how is it that I land with Lucio, a Credence Clearwater Revival freak (like me), owning an amazing collection on his MP3. Maria commented that he´s been gone on CCR since he was a young man…she likes them too, but prefers NOT to listen to them all day long!  So brother Lucio and I shared song after song, and I translated the meanings of the tunes for him.

The CCR brothers united for life!

The CCR brothers united for life!

SW Bolivia is a mix of high altitude desert, small traditional pueblos, mines, towering peaks, volcanoes, hot springs, geysers, moonscapes, incredible rock formations, green, blue, and black lakes (due to various minerals), endless salt flats, llama, rare vicunas, and quinoa.  Mostly, I´ll let the pics tell the story.  My trusty iPhone couldn´t bring in the beauty of the landscape, but gives a flavor anyway.

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Llamas are the main source of income and sustenance in Bolivia, especially in this area.

Llamas are a main source of family income and sustenance in Bolivia, especially in this area.  Did you know they are very highly educated?  They all poop in the same circle, allowing easy harvesting and non-pollution of their terrain.

 

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Vicunas have wool softer than alpaca.  They are making a comeback after near extinction.  We saw many.

Vicunas have wool softer than alpaca. They are making a comeback after near extinction. We saw many.

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Ancient ruins dotted  the countryside.  As mines come and go, so do small pueblos.  Brick and stone are favorite building materials.

Ancient ruins dotted the countryside. As mines come and go, so do small pueblos. Brick and stone are favorite building materials.

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Borax everywhere!  From these flats where it crystalizes, it is reaped and bagged

Borax everywhere! From these flats where it crystalizes, it is reaped and bagged

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Mystically colored landscapes that I can{t capture digitally.

Mystically colored landscapes that I can´t capture digitally.

Volcan Licancabua beyond Laguna Verde

Volcan Licancabua beyond Laguna Verde

Geyser sulphur smoke and melting pots

Geyser sulphur smoke and melting pots

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Countless flamingoes of pink and black/white species.

Countless flamingoes of pink and black/white species.

This is a favorite spawning lake, and now´s the time.

This is a favorite spawning lake, and now´s the time.

Unfortunately, humans are endangering these creatures, through climate change–it´s much colder here earlier than normal and drought is causing the lake to have elevated concentrations of minerals.  Babies aren´t surviving well, and eggs are abandoned.  Sooo sad to experience.

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Town of Villa Mar from my hike in surrounding hills.  Hiking in 12-15,000 feet is a killer, as I´m winded from tying my shoes!

Above town of Villa Mar on my hike in surrounding hills. Hiking in 12-15,000 feet is a killer, as I´m winded from tying my shoes!

This plane had a hard time as well.

This plane had a hard time as well.

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Quinoa is the crop--stalks after harvest.

Quinoa is the crop–stalks after harvest.

Spreading emphasis on ecological consciousness.   Main  political slogan is ¨Vote for me to live better¨--this sign says Ïn order to live better, care for mother earth.

Spreading emphasis on ecological consciousness. Main political slogan is ¨Vote for me to live better¨–this sign says  Ïn order to live better, care for mother earth.¨

A few shots from my door and window study.

A few shots from my door and window study.

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¨For a sustainable tourism¨vote this person for mayor.

¨For a sustainable tourism¨ vote this person for mayor.

Incredible rock formations...what do you see in them?

Incredible rock formations…what do you see in them?

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Looking over head of bull

Looking over head of bull

Llama Victim of Puma

Llama Victim of Puma

Our last night was in Puerto Chuvica, where we stayed in a hostel made entirely of huge blocks of salt from the Solar salt flat.  Met folks from many different countries along the circuit.  Including many from Israel, as those finishing IDF service usually take time off to travel.   Was in thermal pool with 7 of them.  Very few travellers from the US, and fewer over the age of 40 (mostly in 20s).

Our dining room

Our dining room with salt floor

Hall to my room

Hall to my room

Hiked up mountain behind village.  Here{s a shot down on the way up.

Hiked up mountain behind village. Here{s a shot down on the way up.

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Thought I´d explore this abandoned mine I discovered, but alas needed a ladder to descend.

Thought I´d explore this abandoned mine I discovered, but alas needed a ladder to descend.

A window addition to my study.  Note the thickness of the walls on these houses!

A window addition to my study. Note the thickness of the walls on these houses!

Dawn over the Salar de Uyuni (salt flats) from the top of Ojos de Agua (Eyes of Water).

Dawn over the Salar de Uyuni (salt flats) from the top of Ojos de Agua (Eyes of Water).

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My French friends commented to me that most travellers ask the same questions and do the same thing, but they liked that I talk about and do different things.  Here´s a perhaps unprecedented site of someone dancing with a Quechua woman to the blasting tunes of CCR.

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Salar with common  pentagonal crystalization pattern.

Salar with common pentagonal crystalization pattern.

Allan balancing on huge Bolivian tangerine.

Allan balancing on huge Bolivian tangerine.

In a more serious moment, I fights off huge blade.

In a more serious moment, I fights off huge blade.

Mounds of harvested salt.

Mounds of harvested salt.

Francois holding a temporarily shrunken Lucia in his hand.

Francois holding a temporarily shrunken Lucia in his hand.

Our final stop was the train cemetary in Uyuni, with these cars abandoned over a century ago.

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If you´d like to see more and better pics, check these out:

https://www.google.com.bo/search?q=bolivia+southwest+circuit+pictures&espv=2&biw=819&bih=380&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=2NhlVdjwKZD7gwSHt4CIBg&ved=0CDAQ7Ak

When we arrived in Uyuni, the 4 musketeers (me and my French buddies) headed directly north to the infamous mining town of Potosi.

 

3 thoughts on “SW Bolivian Beauty

  1. Hi honey! I’m so enamored of your postings and photos. Spectacular! We’re all fine here. Les and Janet are visiting which always makes us happy. Civil disobedience in Oakland has Libby in trouble but the Quan bashers are tongue tied. Hope that tidbit didn’t knock you out of your vacation reverie! Miss you, Jody

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  2. Wow! This looked like a really fun trip. Incredible pictures. You’ll have to make a shutterfly book of them when you get back. I’d love to have a copy!

    Like

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