Day 49: San Pedro de Atacama, Hito Cajon, Ojo de Perdiz (Chile, Bolivia)

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

We get up in the morning, have super breakfast, pack our backpacks. It is getting routine. And now it is more fun after sending a lot home. I donot need to press anymore and think how to pack. Everything fits in easily.

After breakfast we wait for our guide to bring us to the bolivian border. He is a german chileno with a driver in a brand new mercedes sprinter bus. What an overkill after the comil trucks. However, better that than the bus from the last days.

Chile’s Emmigration point is inside San Pedro de Atacama. There was one newly built up at Paso Hito Cajon. Then there were issues with the water and it is not used now. We line up at Emmigration behind 30 japanese girls and talk about Chile, Argentina, travelling, how life was for a chileno in Rostock, former DDR, … . He was quite priviledged in DDR and tells a lot of his life with prominent people as a tourist guide.

Finally we get another stamp and off (better up) we go to Paso Hito Cajon. Paso Hito Cajon is the lowest part between Cerro Toco and Cerro Juriques (the pass) and the closest border crossing to San Pedro.

2018-02-13 10-22-21 iPhone IMG_3868

Paved road stops, ciao Chile, welcome to Bolivia.

The Chilenian busses and cars spit out small groups of tourists in light clothes and hand them over to their Bolivian guides.

On the Bolivian side aged Toyota Landcruiser or Nissan hardbodies with desert dueler tires are waiting. At least one spare tire an fuelboxes on the roof.

People get immediately queued up by their bolivian guide in front of the bolivian border control. It is cold and windy. Tourists get out warmer jackets.

Queue is going on fast until 4 asians in front of us. According to paperwork they do, money they pay, certificates and copies they hand over, they must be north korean nuclear scientists transporting hot plutonium.

As they are finally done, well 3 of them, one didnot have the influenza vaccination certificate in 3 copies and has to go back to Chile, our stamp is done in 20 seconds.

We get in the car with our guide Elia and our driver Chavier. The car looks used, but reliable. It is a 20+ year old Toyota Landcruiser which is clean like an emergency room. Unfortunately I forgot my music cassettes. Most cars get packed with 6 tourists, luggage on top covered by plastic awnings.

We drive into Eduardo Avaroa National of Andean Fauna to Laguna Blanca and then Laguna Verde. I am happy that our luggage is in the trunk. It is super dusty.

Only chuck norris breathes less in Bolivia. Of course we donot need altidude adaption and go from San Pedro at 2.400 masl to 4.705 masl in an hour. Now no more time and we are to lazy to take the Diamox out.

At least barometer is steady.

First we drive to Laguna Blanca and Laguna Verde. The lagoons are not really blanco or verde, because of the rain. In dry season Colors are more intensive Elia tells us.

The landscape is endless. There is no road, there is only directions. The drivers orientation is based on mountains and passes and tracks in the desert. No tree, no bush.


Finally, Flamencos …

Then we visit the hot springs of Termas de Polques. Inbetween the driving we get off quite often and walk a bit with Elia, while she explains about nature, Bolivia, … . She is super nice and thank god an active guide who likes to walk a lot. If I fall behind making photographs and run to catch up again, 100 meters are like running 5 kms.

And have lunch: Llama butchered in the trunk of a car. I donot want to know how he hunted it and I didnot have a look at the front of his car.

And up we go …

Professional refueling the car in Bolivia.

Finally we reach our hotel: Ojo de Perdiz (or Hotel Tayka del Desierto), basic, autarkic, in the middle of nowwhere, one dinner option, power until 20:00, heating until 22:00. But WiFi, of course.

Awesome views from the restaurant.

Who needs hot water (if there is no sun, solar panels donot really heat the warter)?

Every quarter of a hour I need to go to the toilet – altitude dehydration. I need to breath deep and often. Hard to sleep. Cold. The 30 japanese girls share the hotel and have huge communication needs to get the right room for everybody. A super loud generator until late … somewhen I sleep. I wake up every two hours to hyperventilate. Then sleep again. The window is covered with ice – on the inside. Good luck I have 7 plankets putting a weight of 10 kilos on my cramping toes.

Todays trip:

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