Bolivia Uyuni Day 3: Chile from Afar and The Llama Sanctuary

A Long Stretch Back to Uyuni

After using and abusing my body with sleepless nights, impromptu hikes, all-day activities, and juggling with altitudes, time zones, and temperature, it finally decided to take its revenge on the third day of Uyuni tour. After barely having a night rest, at 4,500 meters above sea level and -15 degrees morning temperature, I was feeling shit. Nausea, fever, and headache, all while feeling cold and weak. 

I asked a more comfortable seat in the 4X4 and decided to stay inside during the first couple of hours. As much as I want to see some volcanic air vents, I had to take a rest. Then, we reached a steaming hot spring where few people from our group took a dip. It would’ve been perfect for my condition but I was also having a period. Instead, I opted for a hot cup noodles and coffee. I suppose it worked since I started to feel better afterwards. 

A Tease of Chile

The wheels kept rolling as we drove through mountains after mountains. Our driver felt like being chatty this time, telling stories and pointing at the peaks and naming them. One resembled the rainbow mountain in Peru, another was apparently where NASA astronauts and researchers go because it has the geographical condition almost similar to Martian surface. That one mountain lies beyond Bolivian territory. It’s our momentary glimpse of Chilean landscape.

We stopped by in a surrealist Dali desert and another lake, this time a rather plain one. I guess at this point even the rare grass can’t survive the thin oxygen so the surroundings were nothing but 50 shades of brown.

A few moments later, it was time to bid adieu to those who chose a separate path   

Three people from our group will be continuing their journey to Chile while for the rest of us, this is the farthest point we will be before heading back. Crossing the border to San Pedro de Atacama on the third day is known option in this tour. The three will have a new guide and driver waiting for them on the other side. It did cross my mind to include Chile in our itinerary, but unlike the three countries we went to, it requires visa for Filipinos. Thus, I’m saving the next South American trip for Chile and Argentina (fingers crossed).

Villa Mar Llamas and Canyon de Anaconda

During our descent we started to see signs of life again. It was nice seeing species of flora and fauna that we’ve became accustomed to in the past two days. I was excited to see a sign of civilization, because that would mean we’re closer to our lunch spot 😉

At last we arrived at Villa Mar, a tiny village where our feast will be served. I wanted to walk around because it’s been a while since we saw several houses. Our guide sort of unenthusiastically pointed to one direction, telling me that I can go there and see more Llamas. With that level of energy, I didn’t expect to see much, after all, we were just there for food. Or so I thought. 

What unveiled before my eyes was a picturesque scenery much like a set of a real world Lion King… but with Llamas. 

I got to stand close to these furry friends who didn’t seem to be bothered by my lowly presence. The view was so pretty I was energized even before digging in to our meal of the day. At the lunch table, everyone seemed exhausted, like we’re all just waiting to finally reach our destination. It also felt a little lonely that we weren’t complete anymore. 

On to our last stop – Canyon de Anaconda. After staying in high altitude for sometime, you wouldn’t expect that this would be the first time my fear of heights will be challenged. We walked on top of a plateau and witnessed a  stunning sight of the canyon with an even more beautiful scenery of a river below which mimicked a shape of a huge snake– hence, where the name Anaconda obviously came from. I just couldn’t help but imagine a strong wind throwing us to the bottom without a chance to bid a proper farewell to the world, but hey, it didn’t happen, we survived. 

We then took our fifth and final night bus back to La Paz where we still had a day to roam around the city. We tried their local gondolas and visited the famous Witches’ Market.

I definitely want to go back someday. I still want to explore their jungles and watch Cholita Wrestling.  Maybe I want to go back to Uyuni and this time, I will cross the border to Chile.

Aand that concludes my love letter to Bolivia

I still wonder why this country as beautiful as we have witnessed, hasn’t made that much noise in the travel industry as much as their bigtime neighbors. But maybe that actually made our trip extra special. It was like accidentally falling down the rabbit hole and arriving in an unexpected wonderland. Alice regrets that she didn’t stay longer, but she needed to catch the next flight to another kingdom.

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