A Travellerspoint blog

Potosi - mining town

sunny 8 °C
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21 November

At 4090m, Potosi is not only the highest town in the world, it is also a large mining town with 60% of the male population working in the mines. Some of them start aged 15 and because of the gruelling working conditions and what they breathe all day, they have a life expectancy of about 40 to 45 years.

The tour shows us how the silver is extracted from the rock through several treatment processes involving chemicals (which end up in the river - I am now brushing my teeth with mineral water). I do not go down the mine as I am claustrophobic but those who did came out after an hour in chock at the working conditions.

Also visited the coin museum which explained how the silver coins were made in Potosi. Incidentally, the Bolivian notes are now printed in Rennes, Brittany which was quite a surprise.


Posted by Lifeis4living 23:54 Archived in Bolivia Tagged english Comments (0)

3 jours dans le desert en Bolivie

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18 Novembre
Après avoir lu tant de choses merveilleuses sur ce trajet, c'est enfin à mon tour de le faire.
Le passage à la douane est simple mais à 4800m d'altitude. Il n'y a aussi pas de toilettes et puisque l'on doit boire beaucoup d'eau pour ne pas avoir le mal d'altitude on a souvent besoin d'aller pisser. Ici c'est au naturel ce qui n'est pas trop gênant quand il y a des arbres mais ici c'est le désert et les arbustes font à peu près 50cm de hauteur. Je me retrouve donc derrière un petit mur de pierres le cul à l'air avec une dame japonaise pas très loin de moi. Nous rions toutes les deux de notre circonstance.

Ma chance est toujours avec moi car il y a dans mon groupe une jeune fille (Julie) moitié française moitié Espagnole ce qui est super car elle pourra me traduire car les chauffeurs Boliviens ne parlent pas d'autres langues. Nous sommes 5 dans la jeep plus le conducteur.

Premier stop le Lagune Blanc à cause des minéraux qui y sont et donnent cette couleur, ensuite le Lagune Vert, des mares thermales à 35 degrés mais moi je ne me baigne pas car il y a un vent gelé quand on sort et je n'ai pas envie d'attraper la crève.

Notre refuge pour la nuit est très simple, 2 toilettes (il faut amener son papier), douche froide que personne ne contemple. Nous sommes tous les 5 dans la même chambre. Il n'y a pas de chauffage alors comme il fera -10 dehors on va ajouter des habits plutôt que ce mettre en pyjama.

Après un repas de midi très simple nous retournons dans la jeep pour 10 mins pour voir le plus merveilleux spectacle, le lagune Colorado. Avec toutes les couleurs, des flamingos roses et des lamas.

19 Novembre
Couchées toutes habillés avec un sac de couchage plus 2 couverture, je n'ai pas eu froid mais Je n'ai pas passé une bonne nuit car j'étais mal à cause de l'altitude.
Le lendemain, après un petit déjeuné et plusieurs médicaments, nous partons pour la journée voir d'autres lagunes, des montagnes de couleurs magnifiques, un volcan actif avec de la fumée qui sort du cratère et des rochers volcaniques.
Le soir nous dormons dans un hôtel fait en sel, les tables, sièges et lits sont tout en sel.

20 Novembre
Levée à 3hr30 du matin pour aller voir le levé du soleil dans le désert de sel. Le désert fait 12000 kms carré. C'est un endroit vraiment impressionnant. Regardez les photos et vidéo sur le blog anglais.
Nous arrivons à Uyuni vers 2hr de l'après midi et Julie et moi prenons tout de suite un bus pour la ville minière de Potosi.

La Bolivie est très différente du Brazil, Argentine et Chile et je suis contente qu'elle soit avec moi.

Posted by Lifeis4living 17:32 Archived in Bolivia Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises animals lagoon french Comments (0)

Three day tour - Salt Flats


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18 November
8am start, I am collected from my hostel. In the bus I have the pleasant surprise to find Julie, a girl who is half French half Spanish which is brilliant as the Bolivian drivers on the tour only speak spanish. It seems my good luck is still with me. There are 5 Brazilians, one Italian and 2 Japanese who live in Brazil.

First we get to the Bolivian border which is not very far but high up (4500m above sea level), we have been told to drink lots of water on the way which means that when you get there everyone needs to wee, however there are no toilets. We are told it is Bańos natural (in other words go and find somewhere to pee) this would not be so bad if there were trees around, but this is the desert and there are no vegetation. I end up relieving myself behind a stone wall in the open hair with the Japanese lady not too far away. A strange experience but needs must :)

We then get split into 3 jeeps and there is just 5 of us plus our driver. The jeeps seem in good condition so all is well.

Our first stop is Laguna Blanca which is beautiful and looks white due to the type of minerals inside. Then 5 mns later, Laguna Verde, also beautiful against a backdrop of volcanos. Then we go to some Gesiers but I don't like these much as the smell of the sulfur is like rotten egg and is bad enough having to cope with the attitude without feeling nauseous with the smell. Fortunately we do not stay long there. Next stop is the Hot Springs were some people go for a swim (about 35 degrees C) but absolutely freezing and windy when you get out. I do not want to risk falling ill so do not go in.


We then arrive at our refuge for the night (4300m) and have lunch there consisting of Frankfurt sausages with pureed potatoes, tomatoes and cucumber and a banana for desert. Everyone from the jeep (apart from the driver) is in one dorm room. There are 2 toilets (you have to supply your own paper), a cold water shower (no-one is going to have a shower here lol), there is no heating at all and tonight it will be -10 degree C. So basically we will be adding layers for bed rather than undressing.

After lunch we get back into the jeep to see the most breathtaking place I have ever seen. Just 10 mns down the road is Laguna Colorado. I cannot believe what I am seeing and can only show you with pictures. I stay sitting on a rock for 15 mns totally mesmerised.


After a simple meal we are all tired so off to bed, I sleep fully clothed inside a sleeping bag and 2 blankets. Unfortunately at 3am I wake up with altitude sickness (head and stomach ache) and despite taking some tablets I feel really unwell and do not sleep.

19 November
I feel really tired all day after my bad night and but after some more tablets and some breakfast, we are off again. We see some more beautiful lagoons, a mountain with seven colours, some volcanic rocks as well as the active volcano (you can see the smoke coming out of the crater) between Chile and Bolivia.

In the afternoon, we arrived at our hotel, made of salt, the tables, seats and beds are all made of salt.


20 November
Today is a very exciting day as today we are going to see the salt desert of Uuyni. This is what this trip has been all about. We are up at 3.30am for a 4am departure in order to be at the salt flats for sun rise - and it is well worth the early start. This place is unbelievable, so grand, so majestic so quiet - 12000 km sq of salt and about 8 to 10 meters deep underneath. We have fun taking some perspective pictures. I leave you to look at the pictures as no words are suitable to describe how I feel about this place. We had fun taking some photos playing prospective but unfortunately these where taken with Julie's camera and for some reason will not load on the blog.


Posted by Lifeis4living 23:25 Archived in Bolivia Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises animals landscape lagoon english Comments (3)

San Pedro de Acatama - the desert

sunny 30 °C
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16 November
After a morning spent organising myself and updating my blog, I take a trip to the Lagoon de Cejar. Because of it's high concentration of salt, it makes you float which is a really weird sensation and quite fun. The last lagoon we visit is my favourite though as it is so blue it is really beautiful. We stay there till sunset. Then I have barely an hour to shower and get all the salt off me and I'm off to a stargazing tour. We take a bus to the middle of the desert and there are no lights at all, the sky is beautiful with thousands of stars. We also watch them through various telescopes.


17 November
I got back from the stargazing tour at 1.30am and have to be up at 4.00am for today's tour of the Tatio Gesiers which is at 4300m above sea level. I'm OK at first but then feel a little unwell with altitude sickness so I take it easy for the rest of the day as tomorrow I'm going to do the 3 days Salt Flats tour and I do not want to be ill for that.
In the evening, by chance I bump into Katie and Meredith (the 2 girls from Canada I met in Salta) again and we go out for dinner.


Next stop the three day tour in the Salt Flats in Bolivia, something that I have been waiting for with great excitement.

PS, as you may have noticed from the dates I am very behind with my blog as the Internet in Bolivia is s....t :(

Posted by Lifeis4living 16:31 Archived in Chile Tagged landscape english Comments (1)

Second crossing of the Andes from Salta to San Pedro

sunny 30 °C
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15th November
I thought my first crossing of the Andes was incredible but this second crossing from Salta in Argentina to San Pedro de Acatama in Chile topped it by far. A mixture of multi coloured mountains climbing up followed by valleys of salt deserts, then moutains again climbing to 4000m above sea level at the Chilean border (felt a little light headed and faster heart beat but nothing too bad), then desert valleys again. During the 9 hour bus journey I just could not take my eyes of the landscape.

I leave you to admire the pictures.

J'avais été impressionnée par mon premier passage au dessus des Andes mais ce second passage entre Salta en Argentine et San Pedro de Acatama au Chile a été encore plus incroyable. Des montagnes aux couleurs multiples, puis des vallées de désert de sel, encore des cols à 4000m où se trouve la frontière, puis encore des vallées de désert. Je vous laisse admirer les photos.


Posted by Lifeis4living 15:06 Archived in Argentina Tagged mountains landscape french english Comments (0)

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