As WARM has been unable to hold their usual walks, Norma is continuing with some amazing experiences walking around the world. With the walking season officially over until restrictions are lifted, she has picked out their trip to Bolivia to give you a flavour of their travels.
We arrived in Bolivia by local bus in October 2012 to Copacabana a small town on Lake Titicaca with small boats bobbing in the bay. It is the highest navigable body of water in the world and it is stunning. We pitched up at a funky hostel with an eclectic mix of furniture and with a small garden with views of the lake. We did the obligatory trip to the floating islands, but also a visit to the giant frog conservation project and also enjoyed a local dance festival.
When you travel for several months you have time to do lots of different things and we had a week of Spanish classes in Sucre. Chris did some basic Spanish, but I had the joy of one week learning about the tenses of Spanish verbs! Learning in South America is good as they speak much more clearly and slower than the average Murcian! We got out in the countryside on a quad bike ride to give us a different view of the stunning landscape.
We used a small town called Tupiza (yes they did have a takeaway called Tu Pizza!) as the starting point of a four day trip to Los Salares. We hadn’t booked in advance and just wandered around until we found the right trip. We were in a group of four vehicles, each with 4 tourists a driver and a cook. In our 4×4 were two Canadian women and our driver Elvis and his mum, Nancy, was our cook. We turned up on the first morning to find there was a strike in the national park, but were lucky to be the only tour allowed into the park.
The daily drives highlighted the huge variety of landscapes, lagoons all of the colours of the rainbow and quebradas glistening in the fierce Andean sun and the Dali desert with its amazing natural sculptures. Hundreds of flamingos and llamas and alpacas were interspersed with miles and miles of nothingness; a photo opportunity at every stop along the way.
Due to the park blockade we had to sneak out and left at 3.30am under cover of darkness and in the bone chilling cold. We drove off road for hours, including down a rambla and at one point we had to get out and scramble up the hillside as the drivers dug out one of the vehicles. In the cold and at altitude it was a strenuous climb and once we stopped it was so cold we set fire to bushes until enough wood was collected to start a fire. Hot chocolate and pancakes as the sun came up were very welcome.
Our final night was in a salt hotel in Uyuni and a 5am start to watch the sunrise on the Salares was one of the highlights of our 5 months in South America. We stood awestruck watching the changing light as the salt flats emerged in all their glory. It was so still, so cold but ethereal.
We left Tupiza for Argentina with amazing memories of a stunning country with kind-hearted and warm people.