Chris is developing a detailed report in which he wrote down actual names of stuff and thorough accounting of things, but until that happens, I will show you pictures of what we saw and you can refer back to these when he tells the story.
So we get picked up by a dude at the appointed time, who speaks no English, but I know enough Spanish to get that we will go to the Bolivian border, which is at the summit of the pass and it will take an hour. there we will find our guide and driver for the Altiplano. Ok, sure.
We are tooling along, looking at the awesome fog rolling over the hills when the outside starts to look like this:
So I say "well, at least the road is paved." Almost immediately, we turn off into the snow. The paved way goes to Argentina, we are going to Bolivia, so yay, snow driving it is. Then we see this:
There we met Daniel and France, who were totally rad. After the whole visa (get it later), passport thing settled, we headed off into Bolivia. The snow wasn't around for long and soon our driver, France had us tooling along... the best I can call the is "trails". There are not many real roads where we were going, and at best you drive where someone else drives and at worse, you drive where you want. We did a lot of that. Thank god for 4x4!
We went to see the Green Lagoon, which didn't really have enough wind to turn green while we were there, but was super beautiful:
A hot spring that you could put your feet into:
Some hot pots (hot bubbling mud):
Then we went to the red lagoon where we saw two boy llamas trying to get some action from a girl. They chased her all over the place, including into the lagoon, and they ran right past us, which was really cool:
There were also many, many Flamingos here:
Then to see the stone tree (It's a stone, not petrified or anything):
Our guides found us some Viscacha, which look like bunnies, but are closer related to chinchillas, who were not to afraid of us to let us take pictures of them at pretty close range:
We were told that we'd never see these guys, and we actually found them twice, so we were really stoked because we came wanting to see them if possible.
Can you see the tiny building in this picture? That was our hotel:
For the record, that was at 15,000 feet. Both of us got altitude sickness, although Chris got it early and then got over it fast, and I took until the morning and really just got a headache and felt like I could not breathe. Our guides ad a tank of oxygen though, which fixes you right up, along with a local tea that had herbs meant to help with the sickness.
You might like to note that when my friends and I skydived a few years back, we jumped out of the plane at this same elevation.
This is France, our driver. Hes the man. We 4x4'd through rivers, mud, and across some really bumpy places, but his car was super comfortable and he was a pro driver and I'd trust him t drive me anywhere:
We started day 2 with more viscacha:
and a family of vicuna:
Then to the stinky lake (yes, translated, it actually is called this), which had this crazy sign:
and a walk through some awesome lava formations:
This is just a cool picture:
Then we went to a ghost town where an entire Bolivian town hid from a Chilean army for 50 years after the army burned their town down, and it was only like 5km away. I don;t think the Chilean army was trying too hard.
And then to our hotel, were there were llama right outside the window:
On our last day, we went to a small museum and saw a native mummy.
The rains had come the night before so the road got washed out. No problem for France!
we saw wild burro:
We went to the train graveyard, where it was raining, but after 10 minutes or so, the sun came out:
Then we went into Uyuni to have lunch and get the visa issue sorted (we did, after much haggling by our guide about the condition of our US currency - bring new bills, kids, it's much easier):
And then to the Salar. Now, to preface this, the guy who made our tour rout said that we could go to the shore but that it was full of water at this point. I expected to go there for 20 minutes, to take pictures of the giant mirror that it becomes and to bail. We spent 3 or 4 hours there. The guy booking the trip never said that we could do this:
or walk out there:
So we could do this:
This is the view back to the car from where we walked:
And it really is a giant mirror:
And then France said to get in the car, so we could do this:
And then we stayed to watch the sunset:
And the amazing clouds here:
And that is why we think that Bolivia is awesome and beautiful!