On day three of our tour across the altiplano we started with a visit to the vast rock formations north of Villa Mar.
First stop was El Cupa del Mundo - The World Cup (not cup of the world as I wrongly translated to begin with).
The Camel - because it looks like a camel...
Three of us climbed one of the stand-alone rocks here which offered great views of the valley below.
Getting up to the top was easy, but sadly this is only half of the process, the getting down was far more tricky.
The next formation we visited was the Italia Perdida, a series of small canyons that we were left in to walk through and explore.
The scale and quality of these formations trumped anything we have seen on the trip so far.
Nearing the north end of the rock formations we took a walk up to the Laguna Negra nestled in amongst the rocks. We stopped for peach juice and chocolate biscuits, the Bolivians really know how to snack!
The drive out of the valley was punctuated by a visit to the Canyon of the Anaconda.
Deep and steep sided it was unclear at first where the Canyon got its name...
Until you looked to the river at the bottom of the canyon that 'snaked' its way through the rocky landscape.
The drive continued through massive valleys surrounded by quinoa plantations.
We met some llamas as we headed up into one of the fertile tributaries of the main valley.
Liz, our cook, laid on a delicious lunch out the back of the jeeps, never ceasing to amaze with her ability to produce amazing food out of thin air.
A brief stop in Julaca to see the last stop for a freight railway on its way to northern Chile. This was proper frontier stuff, with water towers and station buildings intact from the early days of the railway. From what I could glean from Hector, this was one of the major trade routes to Chile.
Our last night of the tour was to be spent on the perimeter of the Salar de Uyuni. All the hotels here use salt blocks to construct internal walls and furniture. A bit of a gimmick but it added a little something to the experience and made rearranging furniture for a table of eight quite interesting though!
There was a huge group of kids tearing around the hotel. They must have played on this truck for 45 minutes before sunset and their mothers came to round them up. I imagine its a tough place to grow up out here, but it was great to see kids who knew how to play and have a good time.