Photoblog: exploring the Bolivian desert

Posted by Szerdi Nagy on 2 September 2014

From surreal landscapes to desert that looks like a movie backdrop, the deserts of Bolivia are a photographer’s dream.

One of the main reasons we wanted to go to Boliva was to see the desert and the top natural wonder, the Salar de Uyuni. (Check out this video: untamed winds in South America).

Traditionally, tours start in Uyuni, an ugly mining town in the middle of nowhere. We decided to start our tour at Tupiza instead which is less touristy and allows for an extra day to explore parts of the desert not visited by tourists doing the Uyuni circuit. We met up with our friend Mark who was busy doing a trip through South America and came through from Argentinia to join us. We decided to use Tupiza Tours who had come highly recommended to us. We opted for a private tour with just the three of us (these tours notoriously cram five or six people into a Land Cruiser with a driver and a chef) and we decided we wanted a bit of comfort. The first day of the tour (pictured below) was over ten hours of driving into the Sajama National Park. The scenery was still pretty astounding, but not even a fraction of the beauty we would see in the coming days.

 

The desert begins as you leave the town of Tupiza. It is in these hill that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid apparently roamed. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

The desert begins as you leave the town of Tupiza. It is in these hill that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid apparently roamed. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

tupiza, landscape

This scenery could easily have been out of an old Western movie. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

tupiza, bolivia

The drive as you leave Tupiza is a steep one. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

The views as you leave Tupiza resemble a Hollywood Western backdrop. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.


The views as you leave Tupiza resemble a Hollywood Western backdrop. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

cactus bolivia

Despite the desert countryside, there is some pretty impressive flora. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

This was just the start of the breathtaking scenery we would see over the next four days. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

This was just the start of the breathtaking scenery we would see over the next four days. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

I am in love with llamas, and seeing a field of them was amazing. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

I am in love with llamas, and seeing a field of them was amazing. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

llama, bolivia

Our travel companion Mark in one of the many fields of llamas. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

The fact that people manage to live in the deserts outside of Tupiza, and have done so for centuries, is mind blowing. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

The fact that people manage to live in the deserts outside of Tupiza, and have done so for centuries, is mind blowing. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

Flat tyres are a very common occurence on the desert roads. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

Flat tyres are a very common occurence on the desert roads. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

Our (mostly) trusty Land Cruiser and a "good" road ahead of us. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

Our (mostly) trusty Land Cruiser and a “good” road ahead of us. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

Desert houses are made in much the same way they have been throughout history. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

Desert houses are made in much the same way they have been throughout history. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

mud house, bolivia,

I can only imagine how cold these mud houses must get in winter! Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

The Spanish built this town to mine the silver in the snow capped mountain, but it was abandoned due to the high altitude and a leprosy outbreak. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

The Spanish built this town to mine the silver in the snow capped mountain, but it was abandoned due to the high altitude and a leprosy outbreak. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

Many thousands of Bolivians lost their lives in the depths of this mountain digging out silver for the Spanish. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

Many thousands of Bolivians lost their lives in the depths of this mountain digging out silver for the Spanish. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

Remnants of the Spanish houses. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

Remnants of the Spanish houses. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

The guys posing by what is left of the Catholic church. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

The guys posing by what is left of the Catholic church. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

laguna, bolivia

The further into the desert we travelled, the more surreal the coloured landscape became.

laguna, bolivia

Turquoise laguna, or lake. The first of many in Bolivia. Photo by Szerdi Nagy.

 






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