ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Southwest Altiplano

DAY 42 (1 OF 1) – BORDER CROSSING, VILLAZON, BOLIVIA / LA QUIACA, ARGENTINA

At home, we read from other travel blogs that border crossing at Villazon/ La Quiaca could be a frustrating, chaotic and time consuming experience (waiting in line for up to 8 hours and so on).  Therefore, we decided to start early hoping to beat the crowd.  From Tupiza, we took a shared taxi at the bus terminal heading to Villazon, the border town on the Bolivian side.  The ride was pleasant on a paved road, and it gave us one last opportunity to admire the landscape outside Tupiza.  The ride to Villazon took only a little over an hour.  After we arrived in town, we then switched to a local taxi to the international bridge separating Bolivia to the north and Argentina to the south.  When we got to the bridge just before 9am, we saw a huge crowd gathered in front of the bridge, and the bridge seemed to be closed.  We used our limited Spanish trying to find our way to the Bolivian immigration and the crowd kept on saying “No Paso”.  They waved us to turn around to the next street.  On the next street, a local man asked us to follow him.  He led us down the street to the riverbank under the international bridge, where many locals were crossing the shallow river from both directions.  Since the bridge was blocked, we thought we could first cross the river to reach the immigration offices, which apparently were located at the Argentine side of the bridge.

After some sweat and hassle we finally crossed the river with our backpacks and made it to the immigration office at the Argentine side.  There we were told that we had to get an exit stamp from the Bolivian immigration at the window adjacent to the Argentine immigration office.  We were relieved before finding out that the Bolivian window was shut with no one inside.  We were told to carry our backpacks and return to Bolivia.  Didn’t have a clue what to do next, we walked across the empty international bridge with our backpacks (wouldn’t want to cross the river again) to the Bolivia side, where there was a Bolivian police office.  The protesting crowd was still yelling with banners in hands and occasionally igniting fireworks to gather attention.  The bridge was closed and no Bolivian immigration officers could be seen anywhere.  We asked the Bolivian police when the border would be reopened.  We were told by 6pm perhaps, and it was only 9am!  We were already tired and a little anxious about getting the Bolivian exit stamp.  Looking at the crowd blocking the Bolivian side of the bridge, and the Argentine immigration office at the other end, we were the only two people stuck in the transitional zone between the two countries.  We could see other tourists at either the Argentine or Bolivian side of the bridge, anxiously waiting for the reopening of the border.

We kept on bugging the police and anyone we came across on the bridge.  Just after noontime, a man without uniform emerged from nowhere who seemed to know everyone at the border.  We stood up and asked him when the border would be reopened.  He asked us to wait for a moment.  About half an hour later, he told us to follow him into an immigration office at the Bolivian police control, where he checked our passports and asked us a few questions.  He then led us to cross the bridge again to the Argentine side.  He took our passports and went over to the Argentine officers.  They shock hands, chatted a bit, and looked at our passports.  At last, he returned to us, summoned us to the Bolivian immigration window, and told the two officers inside to stamp our passports.  After 3 hours of frustration, we finally got our Bolivian exit stamp!  We thought the man who helped us must be a high rank Bolivian immigration officer.

We quickly went over to the Argentine immigrations with our stamped passports.  At first, the officers in the office refused to accept our passports, saying the border was still technically closed.  We were dumbfounded for about 30 seconds before a female officer came out and agreed to help us with the Argentine entry stamp.  She took our passports to a tall and thin Argentine officer whom the Bolivian officer chatted and shock hands with 10 minutes earlier.  From a distance, we could see the tall and thin Argentine officer nodded to the female officer.  What a sign of relief!  Two minutes after the nod, we got our Argentine entry stamps, got our backpacks through the “x-ray machine/ truck”, and were on our way by taxi to the bus terminal of La Quiaca (the border town on the Argentine side).  Looking at the queue of people at either end of the bridge, it seemed that we were the first tourists of the day to cross the international bridge at Villazon/ La Quiaca!

At La Quiaca’s bus terminal, we hopped onto the first bus leaving for Jujuy.  After a 3.5 hour bus ride and a backpack search at an intermediate checkpoint along the highway, we finally arrived at Tilcara, our destination of the day where we would stay for the coming three nights.  By the time we stepped into the nicely decorated bedroom at Antigua Guesthouse, we immediately dropped to the bed and felt extremely grateful and relieved about the remarkable experience at the border.
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streetscape of Villazon, Bolivia

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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

Next Destination – Northwest Argentina
Continuing on our journey from post Day 43.1

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 41 (5 OF 5) – TRAIN CEMETERY, UYUNI, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY 4, BOLIVIA

Before we had our farewell lunch, we stopped at the last attraction of the tour, the Train Cemetery in Uyuni.  Before the mining industry collapsed in 1940s, Uyuni was a major railway hub from the mines of the interior to the Pacific coast in Chile.  After the collapse, the cargo trains and locomotives (mainly from Britain in late 19th century) were abandoned.  Today it is one of the major tourist attractions in Uyuni.

After the Train Cemetery, our group had our farewell lunch at a hotel in Uyuni.  We were the only two in the group returning to Tupiza.  The rest of the group would depart from Uyuni for La Paz.  The end of the Southwest Circuit also marks the end of our journey in Bolivia.  Tomorrow, we would head south to Argentina.

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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 41 (4 OF 5) – SALAR DE UYUNI, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY 4, BOLIVIA

The Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni Salt Flat) is one of the most well known geographic feature in Bolivia. About 40,000 years ago, the salt flat was part of the prehistoric Lake Minchin.  When Lake Minchin dried up, it left behind two lakes and two major salt flats, with the biggest being Salar de Uyuni.  Today, Salar de Uyuni is the biggest salt flat in the world, and is visible even  from the space.  The Salar de Uyuni stays dry for most of the year, except for the wet season when it would be flooded by water.  Every year during wet season, incoming water would bring salt from the surrounding area.  When the water evaporates, a new layer of salt would be formed.  The annual layering of salt deposit is clearly visible from the salt blocks that the locals sometimes use as building materials.  Apart from tourism, salt and rare earth extraction are some of the major industries here.  In the near future, the government is planning to expand the mining of lithium (vital component for electronic batteries) at the salt flat.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 41 (3 OF 5) – ISLA INCAHUASI AT UYUNI SALT FLAT, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY 4, BOLIVIA

It was such strange beauty when we first saw Isla Incahuasi (Inca House Island).  Located in the middle of Uyuni Salt Flat, the unique island is full of giant cacti.  Many rocks on this former volcano are actually fossilized corals, reminding us that 40,000 years ago the salt flat was once Lake Minchin, a prehistoric lake that has since dried up.  On Isla Incahuasi, the tallest cactus is about 9m tall.  At the top, Isla Incahuasi offers a good views of the salt flat and distant mountains.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 41 (2 OF 5) – SUNRISE AT UYUNI SALT FLAT, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY 4, BOLIVIA

Finally we were on our way out to the Uyuni Salt Falt. The sky was already pretty bright as our 4×4 rushed out to the open whiteness looking for the perfect spot to see the sunrise. The moon was getting lower and lower on our left, and gradually disappeared under the horizon. After half an hour, the driver stopped our 4×4. We opened the door and made our first steps onto the famous Uyuni Salt Flat just after dawn. The view to the distant mountains under the early morning sunlight was sublime.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 41 (1 OF 5) – SALT HOTEL, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY 4, BOLIVIA

Today was the last day of our Southwest Circuit tour. Finally it’s time for the Uyuni Salt Flat! We got up at around 4:30am to prepare for our early departure to see the sunrise at the salt flat.
Compared to the last two accommodations, this last guesthouse was quite unique. It’s a large complex built with salt blocks located near the salt flat. The facilities were still quite basic, but at least there were hot showers for sell.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 40 (4 OF 4) – OLLAGUE VOLCANO, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY 3, BOLIVIA

After the lagoons, we stopped by a rocky hillside for lunch.  There were many large rabbits in the area jumping between rocks.  In the afternoon, we reached a lookout to see the Ollague Volcano.  The Ollague is one of the many active volcanoes in the area.  From afar, we could see smoke coming out from the crater.  Near the lookout, we passed by an enormous moss plant, which typically would grow only 1 to 1.5 cm per year.
We spent the rest of day on the road to our night accommodation.DSC_0764ImageDSC_0798ImageImageOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 40 (3 OF 4) – FLAMINGOS, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY 3, BOLIVIA

On our way leaving the Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, we stopped at two more beautiful highland lagoons, Laguna Honda and Laguna Hedionda.  We strolled along the shore and saw groups of flamingos feeding on algae in the water.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 40 (2 OF 4) – ARBOL DE PIEDRA, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY 3, BOLIVIA

The first stop we made of the day was Desierto Siloli.  The strong wind in the Bolivian highland creates many interesting rock formations in this area.  The most iconic one is Arbol de Piedra (Stone Tree).  Many visitors, including us, were free to climb up on the rocks to pose for photo and have better views of the desert.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 40 (1 OF 4) – HUAYLLIARA, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY 3, BOLIVIA

We spent a really cold night at Huaylliara.  We were told that the outside temperature reached minus eight during the night.  A number of us in the same house woke up feeling a little unwell.  Outside of the house, the morning sun was already quite high up at 7:30 when we were having breakfast and preparing our bags for our drivers to place atop the 4x4s.

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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 39 (5 OF 5) – LAGUNA COLORADA, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY TWO, BOLIVIA

At 4278m above sea level, Laguna Colorada (Red Lagoon) was the other big highlight of today’s journey.  Caused by the pigments of algae, the sight of the bloody water at Laguna Colorada was surreal.  As a focal point of natural conservation in the area, Laguna Colorada offered a great spot to sight birds, flamingos and llamas.  The special algae are the main cause of the pinkish feathers of the flamingos.  We pretty much spent the remaining time of the day to stroll along the shore of Laguna Colorada.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 39 (4 OF 5) – GEYSERS SOL DE MANANA, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY TWO, BOLIVIA

In mid afternoon, we arrived at the highest point of the day at 5000m above sea level.  There, we visited a geothermal field called Sol de Manana (Morning Sun).   Atop active volcanic activities, we could see steam holes and mud pools all over the undulating landscape of the geothermal field.  A sulfuric smell was constantly in the air when we wandered around.  There was an artificial steam hole in the field.  It was a remnant from previous effort to investigate the possibility of geothermal power generation.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 39 (3 OF 5) – DESIERTO DE DALI, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY TWO, BOLIVIA

From the southwest tip of the reserve where Licancabur Volcano sat, we headed north on a bumpy road and soon reached a sandy valley called Desierto de Dali (Dali’s Desert).  Dozens of rocks dotted on the sand dunes along both sides of the valley.  Such image resembled the Surrealist imagery of Salvador Dali’s paintings, and inspired the reserve director in the 1970s to name this site Desierto de Dali, despite the fact that Dali had never set foot on this remote piece of land.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 39 (2 OF 5) – LAGUNA VERDE & BLANCA, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY TWO, BOLIVIA

Continuing our journey through Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa , we reached the Laguna Verde (Green Lagoon) and Laguna Blanca (White Lagoon) just before midday.  Located next to Laguna Verde, Laguna Blanca is a small salt lake where flamingos gathered for food and water.  The focal point of this site, however, was Laguna Verde.  Laguna Verde and the mighty Licancabur Volcano right behind comprise one of the most photogenic moments in the whole reserve, if not the entire Bolivian Altiplano.  When we first arrived at Laguna Verde, the colour of the water was clear and transparent.  Our guide decided to have lunch by the lagoon, and was hoping that we could get a chance to see the water turning green.  In fact, Laguna Verde (Green Lagoon) would only turn green under the right sunlight and wind speed.  With food and camera in hand, we all sat down on a hillside facing the lagoon, braved the extremely strong wind and sunlight, and hoped to witness the magnificent lagoon switching its colour.  As we finished our lunch, the wind picked up its speed and we were fortunate to see the water gradually turned turquois.  It was hard to believe that the peaceful and turquois water of Laguna Verde is actually toxic.  That’s why no birds or flamingos were in sight at Laguna Verde during the time we were there.  After Laguna Verde, we made a brief stop at Aguas Calientes, a natural hot spring, for a nice warm dip.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 39 (1 OF 5) – RESERVA NACIONAL DE FAUNA ANDINA EDUARDO AVAROA, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY TWO, BOLIVIA

The program of the second day of our Southwest Circuit was entirely within the magnificent Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa.  Situated on the southwest highland of Bolivia from 4200 to 5400m above sea level, the Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa (Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve) has a wide range of unique landscapes; and to many, the reserve is the biggest highlight of their Southwest Circuit tour.  With less distance to travel and more attractions to visit, today’s program included volcanoes, desert, geyser field, hot spring, colourful lagoons, and fantastic mountain scenery all the way.  After breakfast, we left Quetena Chico at about 7:30am.  We passed by a highland wetland where green moss carpeted the ground saturated with about two inches of water.  Walking on the green carpet under the morning sun offered a great start to the day.  Soon after, our 4×4 stopped at Salar de Chalwiri where we had our first glimpse of a highland salt flat frequented by flamingos and salt farmers.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 38 (4 OF 4) – QUETENA CHICO, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY ONE, BOLIVIA

We spent our first night in a simple house at Quetena Chico. We shared the house with other tour groups. There were about 5 rooms of 4 to 6 beds and a shared bathroom with 2 toilet stalls and a sink. All rooms opened to a public dinning area. After dinner, many of us went out to see the night sky.

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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 38 (3 OF 4) – RUINAS, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY ONE, BOLIVIA

The Ruinas is an abandoned town lying at the foot of surrounding hills. It was once a big town in the mountain region but was abandoned after the outbreak of an unknown disease during the colonial times. We stopped briefly at the ghost town to check out its houses, church, and cemetery.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 38 (2 OF 4) – HIGHLAND, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY ONE, BOLIVIA

We spent most of the day on the road winding through mountain passes and valleys. We passed by a llama-grazing field, and stopped at San Antonio de Lipez, a small town, for lunch. In the afternoon, we reached the highest spot of the day at 4855m above sea level. From a distance, we could see the peaceful Lagoon Morejon.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

* * *

South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 38 (1 OF 4) – DEPARTURE, SOUTHWEST CIRCUIT DAY ONE, BOLIVIA

To many, the Southwest Circuit is the highlight of their Bolivian tour. With duration of about 4 days, the Southwest Circuit is a unique experience of the Bolivian Altiplano (highland), usually done by four-wheel drive. Most tourists begin their Southwest Circuit journey from Uyuni, however, Tupiza has gained popularity as a better alternative to Uyuni in recent years. In the coming four days, we would encounter magnificent mountain landscapes, pristine highland sceneries, colourful lagoons, cone shaped volcanoes, deserts, geysers, hot springs, ghost towns, many llamas, flamingos, vicunas, and the world’s largest salt flat – Uyuni Salt Flat. We also anticipate bumpy roads, extreme strong winds, freezing nights, simple meals, dry and thin air at high altitudes, days without shower, and toileting in open wilderness throughout the day. On our way ascending to the highland, we passed by some fantastic mountain sceneries outside Tupiza, quebrada de Palala and el Sillar.

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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 37 (1 OF 1) – QUEBRADA HIKE, TUPIZA, BOLIVIA

Tupiza is renowned for its Western cowboy landscape: rugged badlands, rocky desert, cactus fields and dried streambeds.  Many tourists visit Tupiza’s surrounding landscapes by jeep or horseback riding; we preferred to see it on foot.  There are numerous hiking trails around Tupiza.  We picked the quebrada (ravine) route because of its variety of rock formations and proximity to Tupiza.  With an illustrated map given by our hotel, we managed to tour the quebrada on our own in roughly 4.5 hours.  As we walked into the quebrada, we saw many herds of goats searching for the scattered vegetation on steep hillsides and along dried streambeds.  We also passed by Puerta del Diablo (Devil’s Gate), Valle de los Machos (Valley of Macho), and reached as far as the beginning section of El Canon del Inca (Inca Canyon).  During the hike, we saw many interesting rock formations caused by erosions, various types of cactus, and layers of colourful mountains.  The half-day hike was a pleasant introduction to the southwest region of Bolivia.  We spent the rest of the afternoon purchasing supplies, rearranging our backpacks, and getting ourselves prepared for tomorrow’s Southwest Circuit tour.
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Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 36 (2 OF 2) – CERRO CORAZON DE JESUS, TUPIZA, BOLIVIA

Tupiza is a tranquil town surrounded by mountains and canyons at about 3000m above sea level. Compared to Uyuni, according to many Tupiza is a much better departure point for the Southwest Citcuit and Salt Flat Tour. As a result, we chose Tupiza over Uyuni. Besides, Tupiza itself also offers much nicer landscape nearby for day hikes. By the time we arrived at our hotel in Tupiza, it was already late afternoon. We did a short hike up Cerro Corazon de Jesus, a hilltop overlooking the town of Tupiza. With the low angle sunlight of late afternoon, the colourful mountains surrounding the town were truly spectacular.

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Previous Destination – Potosi, Bolivia, reading from post Day 33.2

Read more on Southwest Circuit, Bolivia in 2013 South America:

Day 36.2 – Cerro Corazon de Jesus, Tupiza
Day 37 – Quebrada Hike, Tupiza
Day 38.1 – Departure Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.2 – Highland, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.3 – Ruinas, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 38.4 – Quieten Chico, Southwest Circuit Day 1
Day 39.1 – Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39. 2 – Laguna Verde & Blanca, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.3 – Desierto de Dali, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.4 – Geysers Sol de Manana, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 39.5 – Laguna Colorada, Southwest Circuit Day 2
Day 40.1 – Huaylliara, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.2 – Arbol de Piedra, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.3 – Flamingos, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 40.4 – Ollague Volcano, Southwest Circuit Day 3
Day 41.1 – Salt Hotel, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.2 – Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.3 – Isla Incahuasi at Uyuni Salt Flat, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.4 – Salar de Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 41.5 – Train Cemetery, Uyuni, Southwest Circuit Day 4
Day 42 – Border Crossing, Villain, Bolivia / La Quiaca, Argentina

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought