Laguna Route

This route goes through a Bolivian national park: Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa. There are, as the name suggests, many Laguna’s. Laguna Colorado is probably the most famous one. If you follow the entire route you can drive in to Chile, which is what we did. The route is at high altitude (around 4500 masl) through an area with no facilities. There are actually several different routes you can take, we took the West route. This is 380 km long. This is also the distance you will have to drive without coming past a fuel station… So we filled up the tank (60 l) and the jerrycan (20 l) expecting to drive 1:6, normally we drive around 1:10 but because of the high altitude and the very bad roads we knew we would be using a lot more fuel. We ended up driving 1:7 so not bad.

We also needed to take enough water with us, but because of the cold we emptied out our water tanks and stocked up on bottles. Every morning it was below zero inside the van but despite the altitude our heater luckily worked. We also needed the working heater to be able to start the engine even though anti gelling was added. There’s just so much less oxygen that starting the engine is problematic on this altitude. We also stocked up on food, but not too much because Chile has strict rules on what you can and cannot bring. We had originally planned on staying 4 nights in the area but ended shortening this to 3 nights because of the cold and the very strong winds. This also meant camping with the roof down which is uncomfortable because we can’t stand up and we loose a lot of space, while also having several bulky water bottles with us. Add the fact that we couldn’t use the tap, shower or clean (it was very dry and dusty) and it wasn’t the most comfortable route we have ever driven. Even Binkie thought it was to cold and windy and stayed inside mostly. But it was definitely worth it and we would do it again. Although perhaps in summer instead of mid winter.

The lakes are just gorgeous, especially Laguna Colorado and Laguna Verde. The geysers, which don’t blow water but steam and have a lot of bubbling mud, were impressive as well. We also got to enjoy a beautiful sunset and some amazing clouds called prism clouds. It was very difficult getting a photo of them as you can only see it when you look in to the sun, but we managed although it is much more beautiful in real life. Because of the cold we skipped taking a bath in one of the outside thermal baths although some other people braved it.

All in all we had 3 great days but were also really happy to drive in to Chile and immediately descend 2000m. into the much warmer San Pedro de Atacama.

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