In the southwestern corner of Bolivia lies the Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, a park known for its colorful Lagunas and vast landscapes. It’s not an easy drive because:
- It is not paved, but washboard like gravel
- There are no gas stations for a 400 km stretch or if you do the whole route 800km
- Needless to say – no cell service
But it is supposed to be one of the most beautiful drives/parks in Bolivia. Due to the inconveniences above, there are a very limited number of visitors to the park.
Valle de Roca
We start off by visiting a small area called Valle de Rocas where the rocks form strange formations like aliens, animals, and arches. We see towering rocks that look like waves being formed and vast canyons. It took us 3 different routes to try and find it, but it is worth it.
There is no one here and the first thing we say is, if this was anywhere in North America, it would already be a national park, but here – it’s just another rock formation where you can drive through the canyons with an eerie silence.
I am not going to lie, the roads were horrible. There are some remnants of a paved road that once was, but are now obstacles for norma to avoid. There are also washboard type roads where you feel like you are going over 100-speed bumps right after another.
So many flamingos
But the scenery was beautiful. It felt like we were in a deserted land that has never had humans near it and it’s like that for about 3 days. We occasionally see other SUV (small tour groups) and buildings that are hostels near Lagunas for those tours, but other than that it’s silent and beautiful. This is where a camera we have doesn’t really capture what we see in real life.
Salvador dali Desert
Llamas grazing by a stream
And from here, we are off to Chile and entering into the San Pedro Atacama Desert! Even though Bolivia was really short we are so glad we were able to visit, because it is a beautiful country with some of the best landscapes we’ve seen so far. We will definitely have to return, but for now – off to a new country!
Salar de Uyuni was one of the reasons why we started this trip – it is very high on the list of things we wanted to experience. Due to political unrest, we were worried we might not be able to see it and some things on the trip were less than exciting, so we were worried it might disappoint (spoiler alert – it did not). The night before, we spend sleeping in the wild and are surprised by the most beautiful sky we’ve ever seen. It’s like we are on Mars and the sun decided to show off all the colors.
Next morning, we get a car wash and start our drive into Uyuni (you get a grease car wash before the salt flats to protect your car). At 10, 582 square meters, you drive into the salt flats and see nothing but white and the sky and it makes for beautiful scenery.
I honestly don’t have much to say except that you really have to see it in person to truly appreciate the magnitude of this landscape. And of course, it allows for some really fun photo opportunities.
However, it is one of those places that can be really dangerous. There is nothing but salt for miles and miles and not many cars drive near you. Lots of people sleep on the salt flats in the middle of nowhere and get trapped because the salt collapsed into mud when they drive off the main “path”. So, we go in overly prepared as usual and take our time driving only on established roads.
We visit the main island and then decide to turn around after driving for what felt like years due to the imminent dark rainstorm approaching. We really didn’t want to wake up to sinking Norma. We see giant cacti 3 times my height and an island that is flourishing with cacti everywhere in the middle of the salt lake despite the lack of fresh water.
So far, Bolivia has been a really pleasant surprise. The people are really nice, the country seems a bit behind some of its neighbours, but feels very authentic. We understand when people say it’s the last true South American country. We won’t be spending too much time here (due to time restrictions), but we are definitely looking forward to what’s ahead.
Due to the political unrest and protest (only 1 month ago), they had shut down their borders and we weren’t sure if we were going to make it to Bolivia. Boy, are we glad to finally get here. Shows you how fast South America can change. After another long day of driving, we finally cross the border and into the small town of Copacabana on Lake Titicaca.
Copacabana occupies that small village on the left.
Lake Titicaca shares a border with Peru and by volume, it is the largest lake in South America. One of the most interesting things about Lake Titicaca is the people of Uro, who live on floating islands made of reeds (please look it up, it is fascinating). Even though we wanted to go on a tour, when we have a dog most don’t want them on their fragile boats made of reeds and grass.
Taken from Shutterstock
If you do decide to do the tour, there are many more authentic options on the Peruvian side (from Puno) and they actually live on the islands and come to do tours for about 15 soles ($6 CAD) per person.
THE Ferry Ride
In order to go to La Paz from Copacabana, you have to take a tiny little ferry ride. Not the typical big boat type of ferry, no – a small raft with a small motor attached operated by a man with a large stick. Yes, a stick. That’s how he steers the “boat”. It is scary but our rule is if the locals do it how bad can it be? Plus it ended up being really fun and beautiful at the same time.
Guards aren’t necessary, they slow down the docking of cars.
Same size boat as ours, but carrying… a tour bus. Yes, a greyhound size tour bus.
Time to explore Bolivia, but so far – off to a good start!