During our three-day tour of the Salt Flats and southwestern Bolivia, our guide Faustino subjected us to a steady diet of traditional Bolivian music. The best album, and one he played on repeat almost continuously, was from a band called K’ala Marka.
Soon after entering the Eduardo Abaroa Andean National Reserve, we arrived at the Laguna Colorada. With water that shifts spectacularly between deep blue and dark red, the reason for its name is immediately apparent. Home to bright pink flamingos, the lagoon is bordered with yellow rings of sulfur and highlighted with mounds of pure-white borax, which jut into the water like tiny glaciers and are slowly disappearing. With the gray, snow-capped peaks of the Andes serving as a backdrop, the Laguna Colorada looks like one of Bob Ross’s fever dreams.
By bus, a trip from Sucre to Potosí takes just a few hours, and it’s even faster by taxi. But if you’re more interested in scenery than speed, check out the ultra slow bus-train, which winds its wobbly way around mountains, lakes and valleys, offering spectacular views every inch of the way.
On the second day of our hike, we woke at sunrise with aching shoulders, backs and legs, but possessed by a strange energy. The Crater of Maragua was within sight, and the promise of restorative thermal baths at hike’s end made us eager to get moving. But breakfast and packing up the campsite took longer than anticipated: a delay which would later haunt us…
In May 2011, Aerosur brought us from Buenos Aires to our new home in Sucre, Bolivia. The “white city” is heralded as the country’s most beautiful, and would be our base of operations for the next three months as we explored Bolivia’s nature, towns and landscapes, met its people, and learned about their customs and culture.