Saturday, October 2, 2010

9th September 2010 - 24th September 2010 - Bolivia - Iguazu Falls


From the high altitude salt flats of Bolivia to the canyons of north west Argentina finishing at the mind blowing falls of Iguazu, we have certainly seen some of the most spectacular scenery one could ever witness in this world.

But first La Paz.

I was really looking forward to going to La Paz as from my visit back in 2004 I remembered it to be a really vibrant and interesting city with an old quarter filled with swarming local markets and women cooking local dishes on the side of the road that smelled absolutely disgusting. All this taking place in the ridiculously steep stone cobbled streets running up either side of the valley, which at almost 4000m in altitude made for exhausting yet rewarding meandering. I know no one likes to hear some annoying person say “this place used to be sooo much better before” but in this case it is unfortunately true. The cooking women and their awful smells have gone because the streets are no longer filled with locals as all their markets have been replaced with generic tourist shops selling the same crap you can buy all over the Gringo trail in Peru. Now instead of a vibrant market in the old quarter, there are empty streets with the handful of tourists seemingly passing time before they embark on their trip to the salt flats or some other tour.

However La Paz isn’t all bad. The drive down into the city is spectacular as you descend down, overlooking the sprawl surrounded by snow capped mountains. There is also life, markets and bad smells, they just have been relocated further up the hill. The witches market is still there with their dead llama foetus’ on display but the area has in my mind lost a lot of its charm.

We found the life eventually in La Paz

Our trip to the salt flats was far from disappointing. I’ll let the pictures do the talking but basically it involved bizarre salt plains, giant cacti, flamingo infested lagoons, and volcanoes! Despite the fact that Sheena tried to drive away with my shoe and God attempted to rub me out of existence, the whole three days were fantastic.

Train graveyard Uyuni, Bolivia

Our ride on the salt flats

Sheena tried to drive away with my shoe!

Falling inside a giant bottle!

"This is what you get for not believing in me!" - God

Giant Cacti on fish island in the salt flats

Fish island - Salt flats

Flamingos on the lagoons

Hot geyers

After the salt flats we headed to Argentina, with our destination being the north western city of Salta. We went via Chile and the bus route through canyons and desert was fairly spectacular. Lots of reds in the mountains contrasting with the greens of the oasis set against a bright blue sky. Salta is a cool laid back city right next to the wine producing region of Cafayate which made for a nice overnight visit. Being in Argentina is quite refreshing as day to day life is very modern and easy and we are now back in a land where food is important Hooray! More culinary (meat) discussion in the Buenos Aires blog to come later.

The canyons and colours on the way to Salta

Wineries at Cafayate

A flight to Buenos Aires followed by another flight to Puerto Iguazu led us to our next destination. Iguazu falls have to be visited in person to be appreciated. Nothing I can say and no photographs I could take will truly reflect the magnitude and awe of these epic falls. Taking a boat right up to the base of the falls was a really fun and wet experience and the whole package made all the effort and money it took to get there well worth it.


So far we have seen so much natural beauty it’s hard to imagine it could get better. Having said this we have just arrived in Patagonia and once again this continent has thrown up some pretty spectacular stuff. That’ll be for next time.


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