Looking out at the lake, the surrounding mountains were perfectly mirrored in the glassy water. The air was nippy - frescito, as the locals would say – and each breath in gave me a little jolt of energy. I sat on the remains of an adobe wall, now little more than a haphazard pile of bricks, and took in the scenery.
As sharp and cutting as the temperature was, the air was as still as could be. The lake appeared as a surreal platform which I could walk across without getting my feet wet. On either side the sandy landscape stretched, smooth and silky, into the distance.
The accompanying soundtrack to all this was the quiet chatter of some local Bolivian guides, gossiping, no doubt, about their charges in the gentle sing-song accent of the highlands. The whole setting was the stuff of travel-dreams, as was the entire trip.
Crossing the highlands from the Uyuni Salt Flats to the Chilean border in the Atacama Desert, we travelled overland from one vast and empty landscape to another. In the two days between each point we passed coloured lagoons filled with bright pink flamingos, bubbling geysers shooting plumes of steam into the air, and dipped into hot springs with the most beautiful view.
En route we passed Quechua ladies in bowler hats, stomping through the nothingness accompanied by herds of Llamas. We drove through dusty adobe towns with vintage Coca-Cola signs hanging outside the shops, and we travelled over long stretches of road where there was little more than the snow-capped mountain tops to look at (no bad thing at all).
At night we buried ourselves in blankets after filling up on stew and potatoes, and in the morning we emerged to pink skies and the humming of car engines heating up.
During those three days, Nescafe & powdered milk had never tasted so good, and although fresh vegetables were in short supply, the food was warming and always satisfying.
Bolivia is not a luxury destination, even if you do spend your time there city-hopping (that would be missing Bolivia’s main attraction though – the highland scenery), but those who are willing to step off the beaten track slightly will be rewarded ten-fold.
Currently we offer trips to Bolivia as an extension to our Peru programs. You can see all of our Bolivia holidays here.