Posted by: gypsytales | March 21, 2010

Salt Flats and Altiplanic Lagoon

"waterless" salt plains

Unlike other salt plains that are flat because of the water content, these salt plains are rugged and “rocky”.  Salt crystals form and would usually be washed flat because of the rains but due to the lack of water and rain in this area these salt crystals increase in height. 

The morning was still and we sat in silence observing the habits of the graceful flamingos.  Their long legs resembling hollow straws with a kink at the knee, stirred the salty water in search of micro-organisms, which they sifted through their beaks with a soft bubbling sound.

us at Miscanti Lagoon

After the salt flats we made our way to Miscanti and Miniques Lagoons.  These are high altitude lagoons located at 4,300 metres above sea level.  Two days before that we were at the Tatio Geysers which are situated at 4,320 metres above sea level.  Besides a shortness of breath neither Barry nor I felt much discomfort.  So it was surprising that when we reached the lagoons I was overcome with strong feelings of altitude sickness.  A band of pain clamped my head causing it to feel as if it was caught in a vice grip.  Lack of oxygen brought on the reeling sensation of nausea and I struggled against the temptation to throw up.  It wasn’t until we had dropped about 2,000 metres, had lunch and taken a pain killer that the pain began to lift.

eating a delicious Chilean lunch in the village

at the start of the steep walk down into the Jere Ravine

We ended the day walking through the deep Jere Ravine where a micro-climate provides the right conditions to cultivate pears and quinces. 

water wonderful water

We hadn’t seen fresh running water in all the time we’ve been here in San Pedro de Atacama.  It reminded me of the little note pasted on our bathroom door that says, “PLEASE PROTECT WATER! Remember we are in a desert.  TAKE A SHORT SHOWER”



  1. Hi Francis, I am really enjoying “travelling” with you on your journey – what an awesome experience you are having. Both your blogs are facinating. The photos are incredible! Keep ’em coming! love, Jean

  2. Nice pics in the last few blogs. Really glad to see you looking relaxed and smiling like your “old” self!

  3. Hi Francis, I’m so happy you are blogging again. I missed your writing.

    Love you

  4. WOW! What adventures you are having! I can hardly keep up and I’m just sitting on my couch! Love the pics – soon you will give your man competition. Keep it up – just get rid of the nausia already, once and for all!! Love you.

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