Day Two - Flamingos

We ate our breakfast and packed up and headed out in our jeep away from the salt flats. The scenery was stunning and the expanses of altipano (meadow in the mountains) were vaster than I could have imagined. The Andes are indeed a huge mountain range. The Alps and the Rockies cannot remotely compare to the surface area taken up by the Andes. Look at google earth and compare the sizes of the ranges - I was surprized when I did because I had never realized the difference.

The main thing we saw today was flamingos. We stopped at lake after lake. The lakes were stunningly beautiful on their own. One lake was indigo and cyan with white salt shores and terra cotta mountains rising above. One lake was terra cotta coloured with green vegetation around. There were lakes with every colour of the rainbow, surrounded by bright mountains and soft coloured plains and all the lakes were covered with beautiful pink flamingos. Ther were different species, some with black wings and beaks, some were more white. Some lakes had thousands of flamingos on them.

We ate lunch beside one of the beautiful lakes. Daisy served up some delicious chicken and vegetables and pasta. We made jokes with Daisy and the kids that we were eating flamingo. Aodhan wasn´t sure at first if we were joking -he said the flamingo was delicious and could he have some more. I´m sure the local people must eat flamingo, as they are so plentiful.

After lunch we saw more lakes and more flamingos. We must have taken a thousand photos between us today.

As we drove through the high altiplano the snow began to fly against the windshield of the Jeep. It is amazing how many pure white ground covers we have seen on this trip - salt, snow, borax, calcium, sand - you never know what you are looking at here!

We were very nervous about stopping for the night as we had been warned that the hotel for this night was extremely basic and would not be as comfortable as our first "luxurious" night, and was going to be really cold. Our first hotel was just above camping level, so we were ... concerned. We drove up to a large barracks like set of buildings. It turned out to be not so bad. We had extra beds in our room, so we were all able to have extra blankets. We had some tea and cookies and then went for a walk. We went towards a group of llamas, and with the help of our llama herders Iain and Ciaran we were able to get some great close up photos.

Our supper tonight was soup and spaghetti (quite an odd spaghetti). The sauce was carrot orange and had a lot of vegetables and very little tomato. There was ground meat in it, but it was really gamey. We ate lots of the delicious soup.

I didn't sleep tonight thanks to my inconsistent friendship with Mr. Sandman.