DESERT THERAPY IN BOLIVIA!
The desire to retrace the deserts I crossed in solitary: this is my goal. A goal that I will share with others who like me, love to travel in nature and wide open spaces.
The Salar de Uyuni was my second challenge after the Sahara. And in this little known place, with an unreal beauty, I have decided to continue my journey with Desert Therapy. Remarkably, we were given permission to walk on the salt lake for three days and to camp in the heart of a place considered one of the wonders of the world, to relive the experience of my crossing in 1994, when for the first time a woman faced this infinite expanse of salt alone. The route will them continue through the spectacular colored lagoons, some of which we will also cross on foot. A two-week journey that will take place August 15 to August 31.
A unique opportunity to experience this magical place in an exclusive manner, reaching the sky, and also taking journey of the soul: in the style of Desert Therapy.
The unique natural environment of the Andean highlands is lined with impressive volcanoes which reach 6,000 meters high, large expanses of “salares”, incredible colored lagoons, habitats of rare species of birds, high altitude deserts with many shades, trails of vicuna and alpaca llama herds. The still, dry and silent immensity is interrupted by a few villages and unexpected crystal clear pools where thousands of flamingos feed. The largest salt desert in the world is in Uyuni, Bolivia, an endless plain of pure white, enclosed by volcanoes. The true magic of the environment can only be understood by walking on the Salar de Uyuni and listening to the stories of Carla Perrotti who has experienced these territories and crossed them walking in solitude in 1994.
When to go :
The best season is in winter; The Seasons are opposite to Europe, therefore winter is between June and September. Summer, from November to March, is the rainy season and therefore it is not advised for travel. In the region of the Salar de Uyuni and of the Colored Lagoons the sun is strong during the day providing nice weather while at night the temperatures can drop well below zero.
How we will travel:
Our itinerary is to travel with private transportation: buses or vans, depending on the number of participants, on asphalt roads and in off-road vehicles for the rest of our journey. Local means of transport are not always able to offer adequate comfort by western expectations: areas not yet affected by tourism require a good spirit and willingness to adapt to local life.
Where we sleep :
Big cities offer standard western hotels, clean and well managed. Village accommodations are not of the same magnitude as standard western hotels, but they are clean and comfortable. While in San Juan and Villamar, we will stay in a Refugio. We advise bringing a good sleeping bag.
Good to know :
Because of the variability of the weather and thermal excursion, we recommend that you bring practical clothing; light and medium for the day, heavier layers for the evening. We also recommend gloves, wool hats, rain gear, sunglasses and chap stick.
1°/2° day Milan – La Paz
We leave from Milan for South America. We arrive in the capital, which seen with the lights of evening looks like a black hole that has sucked in all the stars. La Paz is an atypical city, which was developed in the hollow of a large circular depression. There will be a short walking tour in the afternoon near the Church of San Francisco and going to the market of Las Brujas. Dinner and sleep in a hotel.
3° day Tiwanaku
After breakfast we leave for the most famous archaeological site in Bolivia. At Tiwanaku, a pre-Columbian culture formed that dominated the Andean Kingdom even before the Incas. In the afternoon, we leave for Copacabana, a charming resort located on the edge of the great Titicaca lake. Copacabana’s typical quiet, rural atmosphere becomes crazy with excitement on the day of the Black Virgin festival (a sculpture created by the Inca Tito Yupanqui in 1592) that is considered the patron saint of the country because of its many miracles. On Sunday, there is the opportunity to attend the blessing of the automobiles in the churchyard of the cathedral. In the late, afternoon we go up to Cerro Calvario where there is a spectacular view of the lake and the town itself. Dinner and stay the night in the hotel.
4° day Oruro
After breakfast, we head south. A nice road leads us to Oruro (passing La Paz again), a typical city that is considered the capital of Bolivian folklore. Thus we leave the infinite built landscape of La Paz to cross a beautiful, almost uninhabited area, colonized by cacti and shrubs. Oruro is a place of transit, which leads into the heart of the vast desert plateau. We arrive in the evening, have dinner and stay in the hotel.
5° day Uyuni
We continue south for a long section of road. Along the road filled with unexpected sights, changing colors and scenery, we go up and down within a landscape that is arid and scarce, nothing but a glimpse of large expanses of the semi-desert plains.
6°/8° day Salar de Uyuni
The first day we head towards Colchani where, like Carla 15 years ago, we will begin to trek in the Salar. The environment is surreal: very white earth, extremely blue sky and nothing around except the occasional local means of crossing the great salt lake. We spend the night in tents in the Salar. The conditions of this “desert” are very particular and we must be prepared for the temperature (which at night fall well below zero) and the altitude (we walk on average at about 3,600 to 3,650 meters above sea-level). The last night we will sleep in a refugio in San Juan.
9° day Laguna Colorada
After breakfast, we head into a sandy amphitheatre like the Sahar, passing the area before mentioned, and reaching various lagoons (Seca, Canapa, Hedionda, Ramadita) which are some of the most beautiful of the whole trip, full of birds and flamingos. This part of the journey is the most difficult and uncomfortable due to the altitude, dust and accommodations. At night the temperature is rather low, we recommend warm, heavy clothing. The lagoon is part of the Reserva Nacional de Fauna Alto Andina and covers about 5000 hectares. Its pink color, apparent especially in the early hours of the day, is due to phytoplankton that moves in the water because of the wind and comes to the surface, contrasting with white borax spread around.
10° day Laguna Verde – San Pedro de Atacama
After breakfast, we walk the perimeter of the lagoon. Continuing along the plateau to reach a still active volcanic area called “Sol de Manzana” which is the highest point of the trip (4800 meters). The environment is spectacular and very unusual, the volcanic area resembles aspects of Dante’s Inferno. We continue on foot to the gigantic volcano Licancabur, nearly six thousand meters high to reach the Green Lagoon and the White Lagoon on whose banks we will spend the night in tents or a lodge.
11°/12° day Villamar – Uyuni
After breakfast, we begin to return north and in two days we return to Uyunui visiting some typical villages on the way. We spend the night in Villamar in a refugio and in Uyuni in a local hotel.
13°/14° day Oruro – La Paz
Two days travelling back to La Paz (staying the night in Oruro). The first day, along the Salar de Uyuni and seeing the snowy peaks of the volcanoes Tunupa and Coipasa. We arrive in early evening in Oruro. The next day after breakfast, we leave for La Paz and arrive in early afternoon. Get settled in the hotel and the afternoon is free for visiting and shopping.
15°/16° day Milan
After breakfast we will go to the airport and fly to Italy. We arrive the next day in the afternoon.