The famous refection of Volcán Parinacota in Lake Chungará – we are back in Chile
As we drove towards the border between Bolivia and Chile a few vicuñas ran across the road, but back in the 1970’s it would have been a rare sight. In 1974 the vicuña was declared endangered, with only 6000 animals left. During the Inca empire (800-1200 AD) the vicuñas were protected by law, but for a long period of time the vicuñas were hunted for their extremely fine wool. After 1974 the vicuña was again protected by law and several conservation programs were started. Today about 350,000 vicuñas live in high Central Andes in an elevation from 3200-4800 meters. The vicuñas produce only small amounts (about 0.5 kg per year) of extremely fine wool, and to prevent poaching a round-up is held every year, and all vicuñas with fur longer than 2.5 cm are shorn.
We said goodbye to Bolivia drove across the border into Chile
How much money did we spend in Bolivia, and is Bolivia as cheap as everybody say it is? Check out this post: “Expenses in Bolivia (53 days of travel in a van)“. As we drove into Chile, we could still see Volcán Sajama when looking back (left picture), and when looking forward Volcán Parinacota (right picture) grew bigger and bigger – what an amazing landscape .
Due to road construction on the Chilean side it was slow going, as we left the border behind us
It is the thing to get the perfect picture of Volcán Parinacota and its reflection in Lake Chungará, but in an elevation of more than 4000 meters it is always windy. Especially in the evening the wind picks up, then it completely dies down a few hours after sunset. So to get the picture we would stay overnight at the Chungará ranger station.
Panoramic picture during sunset
Esben’s best shot of Parinacota and its reflection during sunset – see… too many rippons on the surface
It was time for dinner in the van warm rice porridge with sugar and cinnamon on top, or in Danish “Risengrød”. We love this dish, and it really warms you up from the inside. In Denmark we usually eat it around Christmas, but when you are traveling sometimes you just need a touch of home. What really started it, was when we found Inca beer in Bolivia, that reminded us about the dark and sweet Danish Christmas beer, that would accompany “risegrød”. It was the perfect reason for cooking “risengrød” in September and not in December.
Lake Chungará is located in an altitude of 4517 meters, with a surface area of 21.5 square kilometers and a maximum depth of 37 meters. Even at this altitude the wetland surrounding the lake have a high diversity of flora and animals.
The northern viscacha
The yellow billed pintail building its nest
We got up with the sun the next morning in hope of getting THE PICTURE (Parinacota and its refection)
It was difficult getting the picture without too many rippons, also ice a formed on the surface of the lake during the night making it even more difficult. We also tried a few different places. These were the best. We walked back and ate breakfast, filled up water (best water ever, portable water directly from the mountains) and got ready to get back on the road. Esben wanted to get a few more shorts of the animal life, and while focusing on the that, the wind died down for 1 minute, and he got THE PICTURE . It is the first picture in the post.
Leaving Volcán Parinacota behind us
Back on the road we descended 4500 meters in elevation, as we drove the 200 kilometers to Arica located by the Pacific coast
While we were driving downhill, the heavy trucks and busses were struggling up hill with the hood popped open to give the engine extra cooling
Had fun while chasing a pick-up carrying three alpacas in the back
Out of nowhere our “French family” (we first met them in Bonito, Brazil and then again in Sucre, Bolivia) is driving up hill to reach Bolivia. We both pulled-over, talked for 5-minutes and continued our separate ways. The world is smaller than you think. Meeting other overlanders is a big thing when traveling for a longer period, they become your family and friends.
We made it all the way to Arica, and drove to a wild camping spot on www.ioverlander.com a few kilometers south of town – yes, we are back in Chile! A lot of practical stuff have to be done, before we can visit Peru, and enjoy the last few months of our adventure here in South America.