We leave before the sunset the Village of San Antonio de Lipez to start our second day of Road-trip. We are going down toward the South-West to almost reach the border of Chili.
Below is the google map with today journey in red:
Our first stop, before the sunrise, is the Pueblo Fantasma or Ghost Village. It is an abandonned village located at 4,650m. Why?
Hum… The village has been totaly abandonned in 1960. The official raison was due to toxic gas leakage from the mines. This village has been built following the discovery of gold and silver around it. It became so very rich. Something we can easily see by looking at the size of the main church which is much bigger than any other church in the region.
But at the end of the 19th century, miners started to become ill and to die. This is when people started to move away from the village. The exode ends in the sixties when no one was left. At the same time, a new village has been built but further away. All the gold that was in the church got borrowed but never came back. Still some people are angry about it. The village became then the poorest of the whole region.
What is the legend behind this?
The legend tells that the real responsible was the Devil that they call “El Tio”. This one was leaving above the village inside the mines. Outside God is in charge, but underground, in the mines, El Tio rules. (as we will see in Potosi Mines). As too many people were dying, the priest settle a bet with the devil. The first one who arrives at the summit of the mountain will win. If the devil wins, all the village will belong to him but if the priest wins, the devil will be changed into a stone. And the devil lost, too lazy to get up on time. It got changed in a stone that the priest surrounded with chains. Today, we still can see it, although you need a full day of walk to reach the top of the mountain.
For the local, the belief is strong, and not a lot of people tries to come down to the village. Too many bad things used to happen.
After this stop, we reach our highest point of the entire trip. 4,855m at the Laguna Morejon. We have a bit of headache, it is cold outisde, but we are still smiling for the picture.
Then we enter the National Reserve of Andina Fauna « Eduardo Avaroa » which includes all the south part of Boliva between Argentina and Chili.
This reserve spreads out over 715000 hectares, and between 4,000 and 6,000m of altitude. It aims to protect some endanger animal species such as the flamingoes,
the Vicunas (kind of thinner lamas providing a high quality wool)
and the Suris, ostrich cousins that we call ususally Darwin’s Rhea, which near threatened species.
We were supposed to go further south to reach the Laguna Verde but a recent earthqauke change the water color from green to brown. No worth going there anymore… (the way back is 2 hours at least).
The landscapes around us are still amazing. Every hill we drive up, it changes.
We spend the lunch break at the hotsprings (Las termas) where we having our first “shower” since the start of the trip.
The afternoon plan is quite simple but spectacular.
Firstly, the geysers located at 5,200m, the highest point we reach during our road trip (and highest point we have ever reach)
We can admire a lunar landscape with plenty of holes from where fumes of sulphur escape. We can hear as well the noise made by the bubble of air bursting from the boiling water (or liquid).
Even if around these holes the temperature is quite good, overall, it is windy and cold. We can easily forget that we are at 5,200m as there is no view point like you would have from a summit in Nepal.
We end up the day with the most beautiful laguna, the laguna colorada which is red.
Pourquoi rouge ?
Ce sont les algues ainsi que les sédiments présents dans l’eau qui donnent cette couleur…
Inside, the flamingoes look like they are enjoying it. The view with the Uturuncu volcano in the background is really great. We went down now to 4,350m , but it is still cold (as you can see on the picture)
That is it for our second day, as great and exciting than the first one.
We say our goodbye with a short photos gallery which summarises our second day of road trip in South Bolivia.
Blog you soon,
Links toward the other days of the road trip: