It was time for our next tour… this time to the Lagunas Altiplánicas – otherwise known as the Altiplano Lagoons 🙂
This tour was NOT ONLY a test as to whether we were truly acclimatised to being at altitude – we might have survived 3 nights at 2,438 metres BUT this tour was taking us to the dizzy height of 4,140metres – BUT also a test of our ability to get up early… pick up was at 6:30am!!! Yes, before the sun even rose we were in the minibus on the way to our first stop in Los Flamencos National Reserve!!!
Los Flamencos National Reserve is a pretty big reserve, and in fact all of our stops – with only one exception – were inside the reserve.
Our first stop was in the Soncor section of the reserve… yes, we were heading to Laguna Chaxa, where we hoped to see flamingos… and not just any kind of flamingos… special ones that are only found in the high Andes, and are in fact pretty rare! Laguna Chaxa is, in theory, home to THREE types of flamingos – Chilean – which we’ve seen before in Argentina!?!, Andean – which as the name suggests are only found in the Andes! and James’s – the rarest of them all…
Laguna Chaxa was stunning… and we really enjoyed our stroll on the shore of the lake… we might have only seen two of the three species of flamingos… sadly James’s flamingos were missing… but there were other new birds for us to spot as well 🙂 🙂
Breakfast was served at the lagoon… it was our second breakfast of the day, but we managed to fit it in no problem at all 😉
After breakfast it was time to get back in the minibus to drive to Socaire – a small village on the altiplano… the main reason to stop in Socaire is to look at the church…
The scenery as we left Socaire and wound upwards higher into the altiplano was breathtaking… most of the scenery was enjoyed through the window of the minibus, but we stopped at a couple of viewpoints to have a better look 🙂 We also spotted some of the altiplano wildlife 🙂 🙂
The minbus dropped us off at Miscanti Lagoon and we were able to enjoy a 45 minute walk across the altiplano until we reached Miñiques Lagoon, where we were going to enjoy lunch 🙂
The walk was tough going… for which I am blaming altitude… the surfaces of the lagoons are at around 4,140 metres, and the path between the lagoons took us over a big hill, so we must have been EVEN higher than 4,140m!!! We therefore took it slowly, taking lots of breaks to catch our breath BUT also look at the view, because the area was breathtakingly beautiful 🙂 AND we saw more vicuñas – you can never see enough vicuñas!!!
During lunch we were also lucky enough to see an Andean fox… yes, not a new animal, but we don’t see them often enough to not get excited when we do see them!!! AND some unusual antics from a vicuña…
We had an AWESOME time on the tour… WITHOUT altitude sickness 🙂 🙂 YAY!!! We did get to see what it might be like to have altitude sickness though, as one lady was not very well at all… what can I say apart from I’m so glad it didn’t happen to us… it’s not pretty!!!