Travelled over 1660km.north and climbed to 2300m. above sea level to get here. A 24 hour coach journey in a semi sleeper which afforded one some sleep along the way. The purpose to see the huge Chuquicamata open cast mine.

San Pedro de Atacama.

San Pedro de Atacama.

http://www.welcomechile.com/calama/imagenes/ubicacion_i.gif  Have booked to visit Chuquicamata, which is the biggest open cast copper mining excavation project in the world. The plant and machinery used on site rank as some of the biggest in operation.Also planned is a visit to the salt flat called Salar de Atacama quotation from Wikipedia says; “is the largest salt flat in Chile.[1] It is located 55 km (34 mi) south of San Pedro de Atacama, is surrounded by mountains, and has no drainage outlets. In the east it is enclosed by the main chain of the Andes, while to the west lies a secondary mountain range of the Andes called Cordillera de Domeyko. Large volcanoes dominate the landscape, including the Licancabur, Acamarachi, Aguas Calientes and theLáscar. The last is one of the most active volcanoes in Chile. All of them are located along the eastern side of the Salar de Atacama, forming a generally north-south trending line of volcanoes that separate it from smaller endorheic basins.” Have planned a 3 day trip from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni Bolivia, in a 4 wheel drive Toyota Landcruiser onto the ” Alto Plano” and through salt flats left by ancient seas surrounded by enigmatic volcanic peaks.

14.06.15 Salar de Uyuni  My goodness me! What a great trip that was. Used a firm called Cordilleratraveller.com would recommend them. We set out in a convoy of three vehicles from San Pedro and crossed the border into Bolivia forty minutes later after climbing up to the alto plano. The next few hours were spent in “open mouthed” amazement at the beauty and grandeur of the scenery that we were passing by.IMG_0374 IMG_0373 IMG_0371 At an altitude of 4,950 m. (just shy of 15000 ft.) breathing was quite laboured with any kind of exertion and sleeping in a hut with a group of three others that night was quite fragmented. Woke up at six to a beautiful clear blue sky and bright sunshine after a night spent at -C12. The disparity between daytime and nightime temperatures is huge. Were “on the road” (there are no roads)! again by 07:00am and headed toward the Salar de Chalviri in the middle of the Pampa Jara desert where a group of rocks, (known in Geography as “irratics”) that appear out of nowhere and have been “sculpted” by the wind driven sands. There are some high altitude lakes called, “Laguna” one of which called the Laguna Salada boasts some  thermally heated volcanic pools that, at C40 is possible to swim in.IMG_0397 IMG_0396 Also in this area are myriad geysers and mud pools, totally counter intuitive at this altitude.

We were headed toward the “Laguna Verde” which stands in the shadow of the Licancabur volcano which rises to 5,916 m. It is call the Green lagoon primarily because of the presence of Arsenic and Copper in its watery chemistry.

Laguna Colorada is 45 cm. deep which makes it ideally suited to three species of Andean Flamingo. The bright red colour of the waters is a result of algae which permeates the waters. IMG_0392IMG_1402The second night was spent in the “Salt Hotel”, as the name implies it is made of salt that has been moulded into blocks to build the walls, bed and floors. The latter being just salt crystals that are just raked, I suppose when the floor is cleaned.Woke again at 06:00 am to another stunningly bright,crisp but cold morning and a trip onto the huge Quenta Chico salt flat. (253 sq.Kl.) near Uyuni. Stunned by the sheer grandeur of this environment, kept imagining what these seas must have been like hundreds of millions of years ago that have left such vast deposits as testament to their existence. In the middle of this vastness lies an ancient coral island standing somewhat incongruously in defiance of the surrounding flatness. Totally bizarre, as here in this picture, we were now 3356 m. above sea level…..and yet…in ancient times all this was undersea! IMG_0401

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