After a couple days hiking around San Pedro de Atacama our big adventure for the region is a five-day journey with car and guide up into the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia. The map here shows our route, starting from San Pedro at the bottom in Chile, going north into Bolivia, and then west to Iquique. It’ll take us a couple days to get up to the salt flats themselves, but in the meanwhile we’ll spend our days in some of the most remote regions I’ve ever been in; no wifi, no Internet, no electricity, and, for the most part, no people. The company we’re doing it with, though, does provide food and shelter so we’re not completely destitute.Day One was a long day on terrible roads. Hours and hours on crazy, rocky, rutted gravel roads. It took a couple hours to get to the Bolivian border at one of the most remote border crossings you’ll ever see. The most amazing sight during that long ride was the bikers, a couple here, a few there, maybe half a dozen altogether. Intrepid and adventurous travelers riding bicycles, not motorcycles, with all their camping gear at 14,000 feet on those roads that were so brutal in a car. Mark thought they were crazy; I was jealous.
Unfortunately the day was a lot more about covering ground in the car than hiking. We stopped at a Bolivian geyser field where it would have been easy – and deadly – to fall in, and had a great lunch – a salmon salad, lettuce salad, good wine – our guide whipped up when we stopped at a flamingo-settled lagoon in the middle of nowhere.
The middle of nowhere. This certainly feels as isolated a place as you can imagine. Just miles and miles of high plains, mountains, and flamingoes. Lots of flamingoes. And here we’re going to be with no Internet for days while the Wisconsin primary plays out. We won’t know anything until days after the results are in!
We were curious what the sleeping arrangements would be. There are no settlements of any size at all up here and certainly no hotels. The company we organized the tour with said they use “shipping containers” for sleeping and eating, and sure enough when we pulled in toward the evening there they were: old shipping containers retrofitted as little cabins. Cots with great sleeping bags for the cold nights. Separate kitchen and bathroom shipping containers, all out in what is just the middle of nothing. Pretty cool, really.
Without Internet or even electricity there was no opportunity to load pictures or write this blog, so I’m doing it all now that we’re back in civilization. I’ll add more on our subsequent days over the next day or two, but there are a lot of pictures to load so it’ll take a while. For now, though, here are the rest of our pictures from Day One.