It was finally time to leave La Paz, and after being massively out voted in our last post, (remember here), we decided to take Stevie’s route south through Bolivia instead of east to Chile.
However, a comment on the last post from our amazing Aunt Debby had gotten under my skin. She said…
“Whenever you get to a crossroad you have to make a choice to see and experience one road and not travel down the other. If you choose option 2 you will miss seeing the rest of Bolivia. If you choose 3 you won’t see the Sajama desert… So either way you are going to miss something…”
Well shi-atttt, that’s not fair. We can’t miss the Sajama. So whatever, we’ll just do both. New plan – first drive east through the Sajama, then back track and head south.
Besides, this plan would give me the opportunity to solve a little problem that’s been brewing with my good friend from Lost World, Luis Enrique Getter. You see, there is a rumor going around between he and himself that Sprinter Life isn’t “hardcore” enough. He wanted to rename us the “Asphalt Nomads.”
Ok, game on hermano.
After a sad goodbye with Lost World, we cruised out of La Paz and headed toward Sajama. Without the road blocks up, getting out of town was easy.
Bolivia is such an interesting country. This photo so well represents this country. You really couldn’t paint a better picture. There are many layers, many levels, it’s rough, it’s beautiful, it’s unfinished, it’s fancy and rustic… it’s a complicated blend. Me Encanta Bolivia.
After a half-day drive we arrived at the remote corner of Bolivia, called Sajama. The turn off was only a few miles from the Chilean border, so to say we had driven out of our way would be an understatement.
Here, in this rugged, remote corner lies Bolivia’s highest mountain, Sajama. We were over 14,000 feet when I took this photo. This volcano is a monster.
We pointed the van down a dirt road and started driving.
I’m pretty sure we can now claim that Soleil is the first baby ever to drive through the Sajama desert. She’s really, really good at steering.
Once off the main road, there wasn’t anything out there except some mud huts, some empty and some occupied by indigenous people.
This place is amazing. You just don’t see mountains like this outside of the Himalayas in Nepal and Tibet. Giant. Monsters.
Sajama also happens to have the world’s highest forest. The trees look more like shrubs, but they count.
Our destination was a remote Laguna where we were told we might see some Bolivian Pink Flamingos.
Excuse me, did you just say Pink Flamingos?
That’s right, I did.
This was pretty much the only way I was able to convince Stevie to drive off route, into the middle of nowhere, just so I could solve my ego dilemma and prove to Luis Enrique Getter that I was indeed a “hardcore” nomad.
I really didn’t have to twist Stevie’s arm very hard. I had her at the word “PINK“.
I would have been really screwed had we arrived to no pink Flamingos! You see, the Flamingos are actually out of season, so it was a calculated risk on my part. You can imagine my relief when we arrived at the Lagoon, and I saw the small flock.
He shoots, he SCORES!!!
Anyway, after the Laguna we spent the rest of the afternoon driving around being BAD ASS HARD CORE OVERLANDERS.
It was easy Luis Enrique Getter, I just let my 2-wheel drive Sprinter do the work.
By the way, do I get extra credit for punching this out with a 7 month old baby, a 13 year old dog, and bald front tires? Just wondering.
By late afternoon we had found the perfect camping site. That’s right Luis Enrique Getter, Sprinter Life in the wild. No wifi, no restaurants, no hot showers. We so tough vato!
We were completely alone with the exception of a few locals that would pass through every once in a while.
At around 15,000 feet, it got cold early. I had to double up on my two favorite brands, Patagonia laced up with Mountain Hardwear. Doesn’t get any tighter people. Oh wait, gotta rep the Sinpaugh hat to complete the look. Suuuuuper tight.
Stevie and I drank wine while watching one of the most amazing sunsets ever! Magic. Pure and simple magic.
To complete the epic day, we had an amazing campfire while we watched a full moon rise over the volcano.
As I stoked the fire and reflected on the day, I couldn’t believe that only a few days ago I was ready to pull the rip cord and bail to Chile. Sometimes things truly do work out for a reason.
Next up, we back track and head south.