The next day, shortly after dawn we set off to enjoy the sights of southern Lipez. This is the main reason why you’d want to start the tour to the salt flats in Tupiza rather than Uyuni. This is only seen if you start or end in Tupiza and it’s sublime. The huge open altiplanos, the steep valleys and just overall awesome country side. I
t didn’t take long and we saw our first lamas and our first broken down bike. It turned out that our driver was not only a driver but also a mechanic, so we made a quick impromptu stop to help these guys out. This would become a recurring theme. At almost every stop our driver would pop open the hood of a car (rarely his own) and start fixing something.
After a while we arrived the first little village and saw first hand what the daily life there looks like. Including the innards of a lama hanging in the kitchen and the lama’s friend having a field day in the garbage until someone shooed it away. After lunch we came out to see that our car was missing a tire..
But it took only a few seconds and the tire was back in place and we were off. Towards more adventures, constantly climbing. When we reached the highest pass of the day, at 4900m, we were in for a bit of a surprise. We were the first group in a few weeks being able to do this tour, because the snow had finally thawed enough and the roads in the national park had been cleared for the SUVs to get through.. Or almost. At the path the snow looked more like spikes and covered almost the entire road.
After a short consultation, our driver asked us to please walk ahead while he and the car try to find a different way. It took a while, but finally we saw the car appear over a hill and where saved.
Our last stop was an old abandoned mining city. Supposedly abandoned because an old lady brought the pestilence at some time in the 18th century.. But we were only listening with half an ear. Chinchillas! Everywhere! With their cute tails…