Two amazing days were waiting in Sajama National Park
First we had to drive the last kilometers from Oruro. Here in Bolivia it is normal to bring your children to work, and they are learning to work in an early age. Sometimes it can be hard to locate the parents, but they have to be somewhere.
Oruro is the most dirty city in Bolivia after our opinion. Even the flamingoes were living between the garbage
As we got closer to Sajama National Park the volcanoes grew larger
Volcán Sajama stand taller than all the others
Named after the tallest peak in Bolivia, Volcán Sajama at 6542 meters, the spectacular landscape is ranging from 4200-6542 meters in elevation. The area was declared a nature reserve in 1939, which makes it Bolivia’s oldest national park.
Spanning an area of 1002 square kilometers, the extensive plains of altiplano are prime grazing country for the vicuñas, alpacas and llamas. It is also home to more than 300 indigenous families called the Aymara, who have inhabited this regions for millennia. They are raising and herding llamas and alpacas, using the wool to yarn fabrics and weave beautiful textiles. At this altitude only quinoa and potatotes can be farmed for self consumption by the Aymara people.
From left: vicuña, llama and alpaca
After entering Sajama National Park we drove to Sajama village, and turned left towards the geyser field and hot springs. In the background of the picture you see two cone shaped volcanoes, which is a part of the Payachata volcanic group within the park.
Arriving at our wild camping spot
On the way we picked up two backpackers from South Africa, and during sunset we ended up cooking together in our van. As soon as the sun is gone the temperature drops below freeze due to the altitude, during winter the temperature can drop to –30 Celsius. We visited in the beginning of September, which is the first month of the spring.
The geyser field during sunset
The sky is turning into a heaven of flames
Sunrise the next morning
The next day we explored the geyser field
Close up photos
The temperature of the “boiling” water is about 80 Celsius – warm enough to boil eggs (11 minutes for a medium boiled egg). I gave them 10 minutes, and we had soft boiled eggs for breakfast.
Most of the pools where to hot to bathe in, but the river was nice and warm, and several places hot water were leaking through the bottom. It was like sitting in a jacuzzi. When arriving at Sajama NP, we hadn’t showered since leaving La Paz (yes, its been a while), so it was time for a soak in the warm water – is Esben naked…? We also recommend going for a dip before bedtime, relaxing in the warm river, while watching the stars above you .
It did heat up during the day, and we had time to exercise, while the llamas were grazing
On www.ioverlander.com we had read about a local hot spring, and we wanted to find it. The entrance for Sajama National Park is 100 Bob per person (15 USD or 95 DDK), a little expensive since we had only planned on spending 1 night, so we stayed two nights instead. The geyser field and the warm river was free (it is on www.ioverlander.com). The official hot spring is 30 Bob (4,5 USD or 28 DDK) per person, but the local one should be only 10 bob (1,5 USD or 9,5 DDK) per person. So we left the geyser field in the search of the other hot spring.
We found it, and could enjoy the sunset once again with Volcán Sajama in the background (left picture)
We could spend the night at the small “parking lot” for free, and soaked for a second time while enjoying the sunrise
As the sun rose the frost on the grass turned into drops of water
At the local hot spring we met a French family, who was bicycling from Lima to Ushuaia. They had prepared by doing several trips back in France, and found out that two tandem bicycles and one kids bicycle, was working just perfect. The three kids would take turns on their bicycle, while the rest of the family was on the two tandem bicycles. We have huge respect, for the team effort it is to bike all the way from Lima to Ushuaia. It is also extreme way to learn about the simple life, because it is very limiting what you can carry with you on a bicycle. We made some popcorn for the family, which the children enjoyed, and gave them a pair of gloves (motocross, because I don’t need them anymore), since the oldest girl had lost her bicycle gloves.
As we said goodbye to the French family, our friends from South Africa (the ones we had met the day before) came walking. A big goodbye, but it was time to get back on the road.
As we drove out of Sajama National park, I had to stop several times, so Esben could take more pictures of llamas and alpacas. It is always a challenge to get the perfect picture – the question is does the perfect picture exist? I just read, that taking a picture is a way of catching the moment, when you travel, you have new moments to catch everyday. Taking pictures is a never-ending story of catching our moments as we travel, it is our story.
Goodbye Sajama it has been amazing. In the next post we will cross into Chile and visit Lauca National Park, which is home to Volcán Parinacota at 6348 meters.