Tuesday, 2 October 2018

An Argentinian journey. Part 2. The Puna,from Tolar Grande to El Penon via the Salar de Arizaro

Salar de Arizaro


A word with two meanings.....

a high treeless plateau in the Andes

and a word for altitude sickness.

We were able to experience both simultaneously on our other worldly trip around this remote region at the foot of the andes, surrounded by salt plains and volcanoes.

High enough to feel breathless on mild exertion, and cold enough at night to require the wearing of all our thermal underwear despite being in a comfortable room in a very small pension.

the road across Salar de Arizaro

We spent four nights in the region, exploring the landscape.

Nights and days that made it hard to return to the city after such extraordinary quiet and unusual vistas, interrupted only by the occasional mine or tiny village.

simple houses , Tolar Grande

houses, Tolar Grande

Tolar Grande used to have a railway, but this is no longer in use.

village square, Tolar Grande

disused railway Tolar grande

the football pitch, Tolar Grande

Breakfast here is home made flat bread with milky coffee and jam.

We headed off across the salt pans and surrounding hills.

salt pan - salar de arizaro

salt encrusted landscape

wild vicuna

Llullaillaco volcano; famed for its Inca child sacrificial mummies found in the snow.

heading up the mountain we were stopped by recent snow fall

volcano Cono de Arito

volcanos of the puna

wild donkeys

 Pure white dunes appealed for their purity and contrast to the black volcanic lava flows.

white dunes( Dunas Blancas)

Dunas Blancas, near Tolar Grande

Later, we visited a field of pumice.

Wind lashed shapes appearing out of the sand, extending for many kilometres.

Faces and fissures emerging from the earth.

Small pebbles filling the cracks caused by the alternating hot and cold days and nights.

Campo de Piedra Pomez

'waves' on a sea of sand 

The harsh sunlight made photography difficult. Our trip was not designed to take us to places at the best times of day; we were just regular tourists, fortunate enough to see these magic places.

driving across the lava of Carachi Pampa

salt and lava

vicuna tracks mark the landscape

We visited the moon and mars,

saw 'seas' and 'oceans' of white and grey

passed fields of golden grasses and walls of white sand,

walked with flamingos

and saw the faces of dragons and lizards

as we circumnavigated Carachi Pampa.

We have been to a very special place.

A massive thanks to Francisco Siciliano, our guide, who drove us on this once in a lifetime journey.

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