A Long Day of Walking

November 27, 2005
Day 60

I had only been in Sajama for a little more than a day, yet I had already exhausted almost all of my options for stuff to do. I couldn't attempt to climb a mountain because it's spring here, which means that the snow and ice aren't solid enough to climb. I already went to the hot springs yesterday. I didn't even want to think about attempting to see the geysers again. The only thing left for me to see was the Huañacota Lagoon.

The lagoon is 12 KM (7.5 miles) away from Sajama, and the only realistic way to get there is to walk. This would be a long haul even under perfect conditions, but it was a hot and sunny day, and the path to the lagoon is 4300 meters (14,100 feet) above sea level. Still, Luise and Sanja walked the whole way yesterday, "And besides," as they put it, "What else are you going to do around here?" I agreed and started walking early, knowing that the trip would take all day to complete.

I walked for about two hours before reaching the lagoon. It was a beautiful place with a lot of wildlife.
Flamingos dotted the lake along with vicuñas and lots of other animals. Mount Sajama was still in the background, but I think the view was even better than from the town of Sajama because no other hills were nearby. Perhaps best of all, I didn't see any other people the entire time I was there. I stayed at the lagoon for a few hours before heading back.

Along the way back, I stopped again at the hot springs for awhile. They were 2 KM (1.25 miles) off the main road, so my entire trip for the day was 28 KM (17 miles). I don't have any stories to tell about getting lost today; it was just a lot of walking. Finally, when I was about ten minutes from town, a car passed me for the first time. The whole day, I had been hoping that a vehicle would pass me so I could catch a ride, but I didn't even bother trying to stop this one because I was so close to being back in town. This place is really in the middle of nowhere.

Tonight was freezing cold again. I've been at high altitude almost my entire trip, so I'm starting to get tired of it. Tomorrow, I'm heading to Arica, Chile, which is on the Pacific Coast. I look forward to not needing to use my sleeping bag and being able to walk more than five minutes without running out of breath.

The photo album for this entry is here.

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