Day 8: Ramaditas to Chituca
Today we left our lodge in Ramaditas to drive to the lodge in Chituca. To break up the drive, we made a few stops and went on a short hike along the way.
The first stop was Laguna Honda, which we were able to see from Volcán Ascotán yesterday. While the lagoon is shallow, the shape if it makes it look like a deep bowl, hence the name Honda, which means deep.
From there we went to Laguna Hedionda, also called Stinky Lagoon, where we saw two of the three varieties of flamingoes found here. To distinguish them, look at the tails, legs, and beak. James flamingoes have pink tails, red legs, and yellow and black beaks, while Andean flamingoes have black tails, yellow legs, and black beaks. They are able to live in the cold weather by constantly regulating their heart rate and body temperature. They do this by lifting one leg, cutting off circulation to that leg, and allowing more blood flow to their core.
Laguna Cañapa was our next stop. We walked along the shore of the lagoon taking in the desert views and the James flamingoes. This was a very popular and crowded spot with four other tourists.
The next stop was Laguna Turquiri. Here we took a short hike around volcanic rocks, into a wetland area, and around a lagoon. There were a variety of rocks including igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. Some of the big volcanic rocks had holes in them due to gas bubbles getting trapped when the rock was still molten. We also saw pumice rocks — compacted volcanic ash with many air pockets — that floated in water.
At this lagoon we also saw multiple types of birds including Andean geese (the friendly geese), giant coots (which sound like they are laughing), and anaspunas ducks (with blue beaks). After the walk, we enjoyed a slightly windy lunch overlooking the lagoon.
After lunch, we continued straight to the Chituca Lodge. All of the mountain lodges are designed exactly the same with the intention of making the guests feel at home and not have to re-learn a new lodge every two days. We settled in quickly and had some time to relax before dinner.
Before dinner, Oscar explained the male and female Chicana, a cross like shape that represents the solar and lunar calendars, respectively. The four points on the solar calendar represents the two equinoxes and the two solstices. The points between each arm represents important holidays such as Dia de los Muertos and Southern Cross day. The four main points on the lunar calendar represents the four weeks in a month, with the steps between indicating the days of the week.
After dinner, Oscar led a stargazing session where he told us about the important constellations in the southern sky and their history in Greek mythology. He also pointed out the dark spots of the Milky Way, and their corresponding shapes, much like how stars create constellations.