My first volcanos!

Lauca Travel Blog

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Beautiful mountain

From La paz to Arica

 

We had to catch our plane again from Lima in three weeks time and there was so much left to see in Peru that we slowly had to make our way back. I desperately wanted to continue southeast into Bolivia but it will have to wait for another time. So basically we had two options to go back. We could go back the way we came through Puno and on to Arequipa, or we could venture into north Chile and to Arequipa along the coast. The second way was far more exciting, so we took the bus to Arica, Chile.

 

It is a wild trip from La Paz to Arica. We had to leave very early and Aart still wasn’t feeling well.

Me and Parinacota
He made the impression that leaving La Paz had been a mistake, but we were in the bus already. Later that day things were better.

 

There isn’t much to see on the Altiplano for the first few hours, but when we approached the Bolivia-Chile border, the bus began to circle past an enormous mountain (volcano?) called the Nevado Sajama. If you look it up in Google Earth it is a very big white speck. I guess it was a volcano and it rose above the landscape of shrubs magnificently with its crown of snow. Sajama wasn’t the only volcano. This was a true volcano country we entered and there were lonely snowcapped peaks all around us. As we approached the border, I even saw smoke coming out of one of them.

 

I can’t remember ever having seen a volcano, but I came to the right place! The Chile customs house is located at an expecially spectacular place, because right over the border there is the Chile National Park Lauca, with its beautiful twin volcanos. What a place! I was standing there at 4600 m. high (a new personal record!) and behind me were two of the most beautiful volcanos in the world! The awesomest of all, the Parinacota, in full view. At their feet was also one of the highest lakes in the world, Laguna Chungara, which lies almost a kilometer higher as Lake Titicaca! Parts of lake Chungara were frozen.

 

Now comes the environmentally most extreme trip of the vacation. In three hours time, we plunged from 4600m, with its snowcapped volcanos and frozen lakes, down right through the Atacama desert, the driest and one of the hottest places of the world, and ended up next to the Pacific Ocean. A descent of 4600m from frozen lakes through the driest desert to the biggest ocean of the world! Every time I took out my water bottle, it was squeezed by the air.

 

There was another big contrast. Bolivia is South America’s poorest country and Chile its richest. La Paz is a sprawling city with visible poverty while Arica is a luxurious beach community made for shopping. What a mind-boggling change in a single day.

skippyed says:
Looks Fabulous!
Posted on: Jul 26, 2012
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Beautiful mountain
Beautiful mountain
Dry desertlike altiplano
Dry desertlike altiplano
Me and Parinacota
Me and Parinacota
Altiplano
Altiplano
The Sajama!
The Sajama!
We circled all the way around it
We circled all the way around it
Sajama
Sajama
National park Lauca
National park Lauca
at the Bolivia-Chile border
at the Bolivia-Chile border
Aart and Parinacota
Aart and Parinacota
At the Bolivia-Chile border (4600m)
At the Bolivia-Chile border (4600m)
Lauca NP
Lauca NP
Frozen lakes
Frozen lakes
Frozen lakes
Frozen lakes
llama begging for cookies
llama begging for cookies
Atacama desert
Atacama desert
Atacama desert
Atacama desert
Atacama desert
Atacama desert
Lauca
photo by: Jeroenadmiraal