ALTIPLANO

 

The Altiplano is a huge expanse of land the stretches from northern Chile across most of southern Bolivia.  It's an incredibly inhospitable place taking in the Atacama desert, one of the driest places on the planet, and the vast salt lake of Salar de Uyuni.  Moving across it feels like crossing a different planet, from towering volcanos to the red lakes inhabited by beautiful pink flamingos it really is like nowhere else on earth.

It had been a dream of mine to make the trip for a number of years, but putting the trip together took a long time.  We flew to Santiago in Chile, before heading north to the pretty town of San Pedro de Atacama close to the border with Bolivia, and a good place to get acclimatised before setting off into the deep Altiplano.  The town is at 3500 meters and we made regular trips out into the beautiful austere landscape to attitudes of 4500 meters, but even so, the 3 day trip towards Salar de Uyuni in a 4x4 was still challenging as the altitude, combined with strength of the sun and the incredible dryness really pushed us out of our comfort zone.  We ended our trip with a few nights on Lake Titicaca and in La Paz, one of the most fascinating cities I've ever seen.

My Altiplano travel blogs are here


CHILE & BOLIVIA


Uyuni Light

The last light of day picks out the raised lines of salt on Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Titicaca Self Portrait

A self portrait taken beneath the stars on Isla del Sol in the middle of Lake Titicaca.

Isla dos Pescadores

The sun slowly goes down above the cactus-covered Isla dos Pescadores on the Salar de Uyuni

Cordillera Real

 The peaks of Illampu and Ancohuma in the Cordillera Real at sunset from Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca

Red Altiplano

After spending most of the day under thick cloudy skies (rare in the Altiplano), late in the day I noticed a tiny crack between the clouds and the ground on the western horizon. We were 3500m up on the side of a ridge and below and to the west of us was the valley of San Pedro de Atacama. I was hoping that as the sun dropped into the small area of blue sky the day's last rays of light would bounce off the bottom of the clouds and illuminate the side of the ridge and the peaks above us with beautiful warm light. As it turned out that's exactly what happened, but then a few minutes later the sun touched the western horizon and painted the sky the most amazing colours.

Uyuni

Sunset afterglow  on the incredible salt lake of Salar de Uyuni with volcano Tunupa in the background.

In The Pink

A lone flamingo wades in the red water of Laguna Hedionda on the Bolivian Altiplano.  The incredible colours of the lakes in this area come from bacteria and algae

Llama

A herd of Llama cross the Altiplano near Laguna Colorada in southern Bolivia

Siloli Vicuna

A group of vicuna cross the arid Desierto de Siloli in the Bolivian Altiplano

La Paz

Downtown La Paz is a warren of tiny streets and markets with the whole city surrounded by the towering peaks of the Cordilliiera Real

La Paz Hillside

Neieghbourhoods are built all the way up the side of the crater that contains the incredible city of La Paz

Tarabuco

La Paz is filled with local people from the indiginous tribes of the surrounding area.  I captured this image of a Tarabuco man wearing his traditional hat as he sat on a street corner in La Paz