Day 73: Hot Spring Time

Thur. 25th October 2012

GeysersAfter a good, but cold, nights sleep, it is pancakes for breakfast (at 6am!) and we are loaded up into the trucks ready to start the day and see  more geological phenomena by 7. First up is the Sol de Manana geyser basin at 4,950 metres (our altitude record, I think), with pits of bubbling mud and plumes of steam and sulphur gases which stink!  It is still quite chilly so the cold and the smell drove us back into our 4x4s after we had had a good wander round, taken lots of photos and this video.

Those who braved the hot springThe landscape is so  barren with no vegetation at all and we drive on over the bumpy gravel tracks until a large lagoon comes into view. The flamingos are all gathered together into large pools of light pink colour. Further around the lagoon we stop at Termas de Polques hot springs which is at  an altitude of 4,200m and the water is 30 degrees Centigrade. Time to strip off in the fresh conditions and jump in. It was so nice, we did not want to come out and fantasised of swimming all the way to Rio! Sadly we did have to move on but the sun was warming up so it was quite pleasant to dress in the sunshine.

It was then back around the other side of the Red Lagoon and passed a green lagoon, before heading down a river valley where the track had been carved out of the valley side. However the river is mainly moss/green plants with a small trickle of water running through, which went on for miles.

Time to refuelThe valley levelled into a large plain where the vegetation increased with small bushes everywhere, and the river continued to keep us company. At lunchtime, it was necessary to refuel our vehicle and this is how it was done. Is it safe to carry plastic containers of fuel on the roof for three days and nights?

Weird rock shapesAfter lunch we went to the Valley of Rocks, which was formed over 40,000 years ago (or less, if you are a Creationist). Rain and water have eroded the rocks since then into the strange shapes that exist today. Time for another group photo (see below).

After a brief stop in San Cristobel for an ice cream we make our way back to the hotel and head for the shower (this seems to be a theme to try and dive in the shower before everyone else uses all the hot water!)

Another group photoAfter a quick supper we headed to the “Extreme Fun Bar” where the walls are covered in pictures taken on the Salt Flats with the weird perspectives. We think that our Olly photo is up with some of the ones on the wall. The pub is also famous for an extreme drinking challenge, which was taken up by one of our group who recorded a respectable time of 1 minute 8 seconds. The record is about 37 seconds which seems impossible!

Others in the group ordered drinks which came in interestingly shaped receptacles and again pictures can be provided in plain brown envelopes!

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