Monday, November 11, 2013


 On our first day we did an 18km walk to French Valley.  So named because a Frenchman came here in the mid-1800s and bought a huge tract of land from the government who was encouraging Europeans to settle here.  He donated the land back later for a park.  This is the mountain we walked around to get up the valley which is on the right of it.
 Here we are setting out - you can see that it's a bit windy.  After a boat ride across the lake to the mountains behind, the straw hat was quickly replaced by a toque (wool hat) and an overcoat was put on.  It was really windy, cold, and occasionally snowy.  And up and down hill! 
 We stopped for lunch in front of this glacier
 On another walk we saw these tiny lady slippers,  probably no more than 3" high.
 And lots of guanacos which are part of the camel family.
These are the towers that Torres del Paine are named for. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Incahuasi Island, Uyuni Salt flat, Bolivia

The island lies pretty much in the middle of the salt flat and is a hill of lava rock and cacti that look pretty much like saguaro that one sees in Arizona.  It's quite amazing to see all this growth in the middle of such a "desert".

 Of course, lunch was an important part of the day and our picnic was set up on these tables whose tops were made of slabs of salt. 
 It was hard for us three Canadians to look out at this view and to remember that it was salt we were looking at, not ice!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bolivia - Uyuni Salt flats

The Uyuni salt flat is about the size of Belgium and it took approximately 4 hours to cross.  We went about half way several times, to various spots.  In December to March it can be covered in up to 20cm of water, at which point cars can't go through it without causing rusting problems.

The first picture is that of a train way off in the distance.  There is a rail line that runs across going from Uyuni to Antofagasta in Chile.  It was just neat watching this black line snaking across.

We were heading for this volcano and it seemed forever before we got there.
And on the way we finally reached the tracks to cross.
There we are, Robbie and I.  The sun seemed always to shine, but with the thin atmosphere, sunscreen was essential.  We were at 3600m here
An artsy shot of the salt cones that were scraped up and then shipped off to be cleaned and sold.

Next will be an island in the middle of the salt flat.  
Thanks for reading, and your comments would be most appreciated. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Atacama - Bolivia

The trip into Bolivia was one breathtaking panorama after another.  The colours, the vastness, the emptiness and the beauty were almost overwhelming.  I hope some of these photos give a sense of that.
 We went to a number of lakes to photograph flamingoes and so here are a few pictures that I took with my little Canon.  This tour is a photo tour, learning how to take better photos, learning a new software package and I have yet to master using the photos that I took with my bigger camera and processed in Lightroom for the blog!  I will get there soon!
At Laguna Blanca

 A small group of houses near the lake
Hard rock cafe. 

 This was a picnic stop.  We travelled in 4 jeeps.  10 of us with 2 tour leaders, a guide and 2 local ladies who did our lunches for us, and of course 4 drivers, who ate coca leaves the entire day.  Lunches were great and mostly served in local halls that had been built for that purpose, but on this particular day, it was served off the back of a jeep.  Still delicious tho'.  

We spent 6 days bumping across the Altiplano at heights up to 5000 metres.  A few of us felt the effects of the altitude, but I duly took my pills and really just got breathless with a few steps.  The weather was cool in the mornings - about 3 or 4 ÂșC and then up to about 15 during the day.  Always clear and sunny.  And by evening, very windy.   And always dusty!  

More pictures to come!