|We are to leave at 7.30, Janice has hogged all the scrambled eggs so we need to ask for more as Zeeshan hasn't had any. The kitchen provide some but are they do it begrudgingly! This is basic accommodation, as we expected. No frills! As we pack up Marco warns me to label our hired sleeping bags as Janice's is damp this morning. I appreciated his thoughtfulness as they're all the same colour and tonight we wouldn't be able to tell them apart.
We drive further south to the Little Chiguana Salt Flat. We have to cross over the main train line we saw earlier at the train cemetery, which continues on to Chile. The landscape here has hardly any vegetation but there are towering mountains up to 5800 metres with the most beautiful colours of red earth, with olive lichens and mosses on the lower slopes and snow on the peaks. We stop at a lookout point to view Nevado Sajama which is 6,542 metres high. An enterprising Bolivian is cooking llama sausages on old 44 gallon drum. So we have to try one and they are delicious. We continue on, bouncing along the many tracks. Our driver, Freddie, is well skilled at driving in this area and he would need to be, as there are no sign posts. We arrive at Canapa Lagoon (4130m) to see the palest shade of blue water in the lagoon with thousands and thousands of pink flamingos wading and feeding in the water. It is a spectacular sight with the masses of pink everywhere from the 3 different types of flamingos. We walk along the lake to spot the different types, the Andean flamingo with yellow legs and a black tail, and the James Flamingo with a brighter pink breast and tail and pink legs and the Austral flamingo with a black beak and blue legs. We decide to have our lunch here as there are tables and stools to use. We have a picnic lunch of chicken, vegetables and spaghetti. All the food is on board the vehicle and organised by our driver, Freddie. I give some Aussie animal stickers to a little boy at the lagoon. He is shy but he takes them from me. A little bit of Australia in a remote part of Bolivia!
We continue on and not long after we see some foxes that have come close to the road scrounging for food. Their coats are long to protect them from the cold. Next we stop at another lagoon, called Hedionda or stinky lagoon, because of the high sulphur content. Now the terrain changes and we travel through rocky outcrops where the jackrabbit lives. They are a rabbit but with a long tail and are extremely adept at clambering over the rocks. We get out of the vehicle for a closer look. This also enables us to get a chance to feel the snow for the first time in over 35 years, plus an opportune time for a snow fight! As we continue on we are getting much, much higher and reach 4940 metres. There is more snow on the ground here and when we stop at the highest point the mountains that surround us still have quite a lot of snow on their peaks.
We now drive through the Siloli Desert and see the amazing rock formations including a formation called the 'Stone Tree'. It is shaped like a stunted tree about 7m high. Its shape, particularly the thin stem, is due to strong winds carrying sand and eroding the soft sandstone.
We end the day at the Red Lagoon a breathtaking 40 sq km area which has been declared a wildlife sanctuary. The lagoon itself is a reddish burgundy colour and contains borax islands. The white of the borax contrasts spectacularly with the reddish colour of the lagoon's waters, which are caused by red sediments and the pigmentation of some algae.
Our Hotel accommodation is at Wayllajara Village on the shores of the lagoon. Tonight the accommodation is even more basic than last night, a dorm room for the 5 of us, some working toilets and no showers! We go to our room and choose our beds. We get set up as tonight it will get to -17C, yes that's correct minus 17 celsius. Cold hey!!
Whilst there is still light Phil, Janice and I walk along the edge of the lagoon. When we get back to the Hostel it's time to get into the thermals, warm up with a glass of red and then brave the outdoors to see the pink hues over the mountains and the red lagoon, as the sun sets.
Dinner is soup followed by spag bol, the international dish of choice. Once dinner is over we brave the outdoors again, this time to see the stars. The moon is a little bright, so whilst the stars are amazing, they are not at their best. We decide to leave Zeeshan out there with his camera and we will check out the stars in the morning as we need to get up at 4.30 am tommorrow.
Early to bed tonight as we may not get much sleep, depending on who snores and we have to be ready to leave by 5.30 am.