Road Trip Day 4 – From San Pedro de Quemez to Ojos de Perdiz

Friday 9th October 2015

In the morning, there was a team of 4 guys of the “Paris Dakar” on their computers in the brekky area of the hostel who were preparing the itinerary of the Paris Dakar of December 2015. They do that by driving their 4WD on the dirt roads and checking how long it takes, where there are tough parts, how the landscape look, which villages it crosses and so on. Their reports help to prepare the event. Here is their 4WD in front of the hostel.

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I went to walk in the old village of San Pedro de Quemes.

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From the mirador, I could see the old village and the new village in the background.

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On the way back from this little walk, I saw this woman taking her sheeps and her llamas grazing.

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Off we went on the Paris Dakar road, doing our own Paris Dakar, yeah!

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Landscape to the left

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We stopped to see this railway from closer, it is the railway that goes from Calama to Uyuni then to Oruro.

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The road ahead

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We stopped at some point and walked around in this rocky landscape.

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We could see the volcano fuming in the distance.

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It is hard to perceive the relief in the picture, but it was going up and down and up and down in those little hills.
The weather around was really windy.

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On the road again

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Mmmm…Which one should we take?

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We arrived at the first laguna called Laguna Canapa.

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There were lots of flamingos in this laguna, in the entire trip, it is actually where we saw the biggest number.

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It is also where we could approach them and observe them from the closest without them going away as they usually do.
These are James flamingos mostly.

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Here is a video of James flamingos eating at the Laguna Canapa.

Another shot of these flamingos when three of them opened their wings at the same time.

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A view of the laguna

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There was this juvenile James flamingo there. They look white when they are juveniles.

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When they spread their wings, we can see that they already start having some pinkish feathers under already though.

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Continued the drive

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We got to this other laguna called Laguna Hedionda.

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There were lots of flamingos there too.

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The guide approached them too fast and they all flew away quite far.

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Here is a video I was lucky to trigger at the moment they started flying away.

The guide emptied some rice we had not eaten from our lunch box in front of the car and seagulls came to eat it.

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It was great to get this shot. Speed 1/2000 seconds.

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And this other shot, it looks photoshoped but the seagull was flying just in the right spot at the right moment.

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Some more photos while driving along Laguna Hedionda here:

Hitting the road again.

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The third laguna called Laguna Honda.

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On the Paris Dakar road again.

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The fourth laguna called Laguna Ramaditas.

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And off again…

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Admiring this crazy landscape

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We got to the entrance of this canyon, it was really pretty to drive through these rocks.

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Feel free to use this shot as a desktop background ahahah. 😀

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Another view

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Continuing through

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We ran into these three viscachas, which were quietly waiting here.

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We could tell they were used to be fed by humans as they would normally run away otherwise. Great for close-up shots but sad too as wildlife should not be fed by humans as it can be a risk that they forget how to go get their own food.

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Waiting for food. Well, no, sorry buddy, go get your own food in the rocks, we are not helping you if we feed you!

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The road ahead, pretty, stunning, beautiful, awesome, striking, amazing, I am running out of words, it has been a week like this already. Which other adjectives would you use? Dry? Desertic? Mystic? Mysterious? Enticing? Inspiring?

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The coloured mountains

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We arrived at the hotel del desierto. It was the only one around.

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When we got there, there was this tandem bicycle lying against the wall. At the reception, we met Laetitia and David, a French couple cycling South America, from Bogota to Ushuaia for 6 months with some buses sometimes as otherwise they would need 2 years I guess to cover that distance. Their blog is here, have a look:

It was really inspiring to see that, although Laetitia told me that they were exhausted and didn`t expect the road to be so bad and mostly so windy, with such a cold wind. They needed a good night in a good bed before to hit the road again.

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I got out for sunset and stayed in the cold for 30 minutes from 6.20pm to 6.50pm. We were at 4,200 meters of altitude and the wind was pretty brisk and cold. I kept walking and jumping around. I was used to the altitude by that time so could jump around with no problem, but what a cold!! Saying that…what a sunset!!! Another explosion of crazy colours!!! It started like this with the sun disappearing behind the mountains in the distance.

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At the beginning, this gigantesque impressive cloud was just white but was about to take on many colours. There was another girl shooting too. It is great to have her in the shot to give you a scale of things.

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At the end, the sky took all those colours.

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There seemed to be a greyhound cloud in the sky.

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More photos of this sunset here, I had a hard time choosing and want to share with you all the colour steps the sky took within those 30 minutes, hope you enjoy the show!

The hotel had created a dinning area with an awesome panoramic view.

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I had my first Bolivian beer, not too bad.

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They had an oxygen bottle at the reception. There was a woman in her seventies I would say who was feeling really unwell. The next morning I saw a young couple, both feeling unwell who were taking turns breathing some of the oxygen. The thing is that if you arrive from San Pedro de Atacama directly to Ojos de Perdiz, you go from 2,400 to 4,200 meters in altitude, while if you arrive North to South, you come from 3,500 meters roughly and gradually go up. Acclimation to the altitude is all about taking the time to gradually go higher up in altitude, no secret here!

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Next day, off from from Ojos de Perdiz to San Pedro de Atacama!