The main thing I was looking forward to in Bolivia was the 4 day Jeep trek. I did not know a ton about it beforehand. I knew that every traveler I met who was heading to Bolivia, was heading there for this trek. I also knew I would end up at Salar De Uyuni (the world’s largest salt flat) at some point during the journey. I do not know exactly what I expected, but I did not expect Bolivia to be filled with so much natural beauty. My trek from Tupiza to Uyuni was absolutely one of the coolest things I have ever done. For this post, I will share my experience from Day 1 of 4.Honestly, it’s really hard to write about this experience. I am not sure words can describe it. The pictures help, but really don’t do much justice to what my brain was processing. Even a panoramic shot doesn’t capture the desolation and barrenness of the high altitude desert landscapes.
So much of the time in this trip is spent driving, you are essentially on a 4 day road trip. With so much time on the road, beautiful sight after beautiful sight can start to meld together at times. In my case, and for many others I believe, there is a lot of time for inner reflection during this journey. And that is part of the beauty of the experience.
I expected that I would have a wonderful time and see beautiful things. But I did not expect such a moving and highly educational experience.
Each of the four days was the same and yet different. Sleeping accommodations were basic. None of them included internet, and electricity was only kept on for around 2 hours each night, just enough to charge our camera batteries. There was no heat, and at 5000 meters above sea level, it is cold. In fact, most people on the trek do not shower, because it is simply too cold. It sounds awful, but it is not. It is just accepting to live a bit more simply for a few days (and sleep wearing a lot of layers).
The complete inability to use the internet for several days was wonderful. When internet is available I have the constant urge to check my facebook, instagram, email, whatever it might be. But once accepting that for several days I could not check on the outside world, it was surprisingly easy to forget about the impulse to “check”.
Day 1 began heading up the mountains from Tupiza. The morning views were beyond breathtaking. Despite my exhaustion from lack of sleep and the early hour, I could not fall asleep and miss the amazing sights of the Bolivian mountain haze. Once we were deeper into the Bolivian wild, we made numerous stops. I learned (at long last) the difference between a Lama and an Alpaca (and the photos below are Lamas). We explored La Ciudad Encantada, which is an incredible natural formation of soft rock created by rain. La Ciudad Encantada is the type of landscape that inspires science-fiction stories of human-like beings on distant planets. We stopped for lunch in a pueblo so tiny that I can’t imagine more that 100 people living within it’s borders. We wandered the dirt streets among the ruins of a lonely abandoned Spanish colonial village in the heart of the mineral-rich mountains. We concluded our 12 hour day with breathtaking views of a laguna downstage of the snowcapped mountains.
I will post about day 2 ASAP.