Day 11: Volcán Tunupa & Bikes
Today is June 21st, the Winter Solstice. This is an important holiday and is the Aymara new year. It represents the lengthening of the days and the beginning of the harvesting season. The celebration starts on the night of the 20th and consists of traditional rituals along with song and dance, but mostly drinking and partying too much and waking up at the sunrise on the 21st to take in the sun’s energy. We opted for the sunrise only part, which we celebrated from our room.
After breakfast we hopped in the car to start the morning exploration. The lodge is located next to the Tunupa volcano, and we drove over to a lookout point to see the colors of the volcano in closer detail.
Driving up to 4,600 meters, we were pretty much at eye level to the crater. We walked up a small hill to get to the lookout point to enjoy the view. We tried to use the drone, but it was a bit too windy for it to be stable.
We climbed back down the hill and drove back to the lodge, still taking in the views and the animals near the road. When we got back, we had some time to relax before lunch.
We ate a traditional meal called pikue macho, which is made of beef, potatoes, and rice with a hot chili sauce called llajua. After, we got ready for our afternoon exploration of biking on the salt flats.
Matt and Oscar started at the lodge and biked down the hill to the salt flat while Jo got a ride to the start of the flats. We biked on the salt flat until we found a good spot to take perspective photos. Because the salt flats are in fact white and flat and vast, it is easy to play with perspective.
We made a quick stop to see the flamingoes before continuing on to one of the small islands. We left our biked on the salt and hiked up to the top of the hill for a 360 degree view. Since this is the shortest day of the year, we quickly went back down the island and back on our bikes.
We rode out away from the shore and met up with Abel and the car. We had snacks and wine while we watched the sunset behind Volcán Tunupua. Without any clouds in the sky, and with a reflective surface, the colors changed rapidly.
Once the sun went behind the volcano, the temperature dropped pretty quickly. We still stayed out listening to music and having fun until it was time to get back to the lodge.