On Sunday we're going to the airport to head off on another adventure. This time we'll be flying to Santiago do Chile, before heading to Calama in northern Chile and then on to San Pedro de Atacama, our base for the beginning of a trip across the Altiplano which will take us all the way to Lake Titicaka
This trip has been on the agenda for a long time now, I can well remember sitting in a bookshop in Brazil after we'd just left the Amazon about 7 years ago, reading the Footprint Guide to Bolivia and trying to find out information on crossing the Altiplano from San Pedro de Atacama to the Salar de Uyuni. Since then, I've kept returning to the document on my computer with an outline of a dream itinerary for this trip and researched the area a little more, and then finally last summer we took the plunge and decided to make serious plans to actually do it.
One of the difficulties was finding a reputable company to do the 4x4 trek across the Altiplano from San Pedro to Uyuni, because while there are plenty of companies that offer the trip, the majority sub-contract and cram as many people as possible into one jeep. It was always important to me that we do this part of the trip alone so we'd be free to make diversions and stop whenever for however long to take photographs. I also had a clear idea of the places I wanted to stop overnight, so while I seriously looked into doing it ourselves, renting a jeep and taking is across the border from Chile to Bolivia looked extremely problematic, and I also couldn't discount the possibilty of a breakdown or getting lost in such an unforgiving environment with no mobile phone coverage. Eventually though, I found a company that organised the trip with just the two of us and a driver/guide.
Before we head off on that part of the trip though, we'll have 4 or 5 days in San Pedro de Atacama acclimatising and making trips to various parts of the Atacama in the area, working our way up to around 4700m above sea level. We'll be horse riding around San Pedro and Valle da Luna, renting a 4x4 and heading south to Lago Miscanti, Laguna Leija and Salar Aguas Calientes, and attempting to summit Cerro Toco at 5600m for views of Licancabur Volcano.
After crossing to Altiplano into Bolivia, we'll spend a couple of days at the Salar de Uyuni, before heading overland to the town of Potosi, and then on to Sucre. All in all, it's a trip of a little under 1000km, most of it off-road.
There's a map below of where we'll be and our overland journey as far as Sucre. I've uploaded a BIG version, so click on it to be able to make out the details.
We'll spend a couple of days in Sucre, before flying up to La Paz, and then heading over to Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca for a few nights before coming home.
I'd hoped to be able to head over to Lauca National Park, home of the stunning Volcano Parinacota, in the absolute north of Chile, but it proved to be impractical logistically to get from the part of Chile and Boliva where we're going to that part of the country. I've not given up on it yet though, I'm determined to see that volcano, and at the moment it's kind of tacked on to a trip to Peru that we're hoping to make in the summer of 2016.
That's the distant future though, for now we've got almost 3 weeks of Altiplano on the immediate horizon.
Can't wait! It's one of the most brilliant feelings in the world to be at the beginning of a journey to an amazing place, and almost as soon as we return from this, we'll start planning the next adventure...