At one with nature in Bariloche – photo essay

Bariloche is incredibly beautiful. So beautiful I could’ve cried the first time I laid eyes on it. The kind of beautiful that makes your heart full and want to sing from the mountain tops, Sound of Music style. I didn’t quite sing from the mountain tops when I arrived, but I was in total awe of the place. My stay was short, but very memorable.

Lake Nahuel Huapi

I arrived from Buenos Aires on a very chilly 7º day (having come from 35º) and decided to go for a walk around the lake, camera in hand. The air was crisp, and the skies clear, the wind picked up and the lake was whipping up some spectacular waves.

Kayaking on Lake Guitterez

This lake is part of the Nahuel Huapi National Park in Bariloche. I had quite the kayak adventure as the weather was rough that day. The the other kayak in our group capsized and due to them losing their paddles in the process, our guide tied the two kayaks together, and I was tasked with paddling all four of us back to the beach. Luckily after half an hour of paddling against a very strong current (and making zero headway), a rescue boat arrived.



Our guide didn’t speak English so conversation was limited, but it didn’t matter as I was firmly transfixed on some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever come across – open meadows, trickling streams, imposing mountains rising from crystal clear lakes. However after a few hours even the view couldn’t distract me from my sore arse.

Lake Nahuel Huapi from Cerro Otto

A quick 10 min bus ride from town, and a short gondola ride, is the viewpoint of Cerro Otto. The town of Bariloche hugs the coastline of Lake Nahuel Huapi, surrounded by towering peaks of the snowcapped Andes in the distance.


All photos in this post were taken by the author and subject to copyright.


The altitude diaries – a photo essay

San Pedro de Atacama

San Pedro de Atacama – 2,500mt up in the high altiplano Atacama desert, was the rough, dusty town that was my jumping off point for my 3 day tour to the Salar de Uyuni.

Volcan Licancabur

The symmetrical Volcan Licancabur, rising to almost 5,500m, dominates the arid landscape around the town. The crater sits entirely in Chile, while the lower slopes belong to Bolivia.

Bolivian Immigration

The desert border between Bolivia and Chile, sitting at 4,100m – is the most stunning border crossing I have ever been to. Immigration was a rather simple process – walk into a shack, pay 150 Bolivianos ($21) and get stamped. Why can’t all immigration formalities be like this? Then it was out of the minibus and into the 4x4s for the start of the trip into the Atacama desert towards Uyuni.

Laguna Blanca

Sitting at 4,350m, Laguna Blanca was the first stop of the high-altitude lakes. The characteristic white colour of the water, that gave the lake its name, is caused by the high amount of minerals.

Laguna Verde

We drive further, and arrive at Laguna Verde. Sitting at the foot of Volcan Licancabur, at 4,300m is this aqua green lake. You may be able to find the odd flamingo, this time we weren’t too lucky.

Hot Springs

Just around the corner from Laguna Verde, we stop to have a quick dip in hot springs; the water temp about 38º.

Laguna Colorada

The deep-russet red of Laguna Colorada, sits at 4,500m. The lake contains borax islands, whose white colour contrasts nicely with the reddish color of its waters, which is caused by red sediments and pigmentation of some algae.

James Flamingo

The lagoon is also a breeding ground for the rare James Flamingo. At this point I was starting to suffer from mild altitude sickness, how these survive in this altitude, with the extreme weather is mind-boggling to me.


Our refugio for the first night sat at 4,800m. Not only was there no electricity or showers, I also suffered altitude sickness the entire time and despite trying coca tea, coca lollies and chewing coca leaves, my thumping headaches persisted and I didn’t get a wink of sleep.

Arbol de piedra

Day 2, we started to come down in altitude (thank god) and after a long drive we stopped off at the famous Arbol de piedra (Stone Tree), at about 4,600m.

Laguna Honda

We stopped off at another impressive lake, Laguna Honda, this time a more bearable 4,200m.

Sunset over the altiplano

And the sun sets on another day in the Bolivian altiplano, at the front our refugio on the edge of the Salar de Uyuni, approx. 3,800m.

Salar de Uyuni

The salar’s reputation lived up to the hype. These salt flats are the world’s biggest, stretching over 10,000 square km, elevation 3,600m. The Salar was formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes and is covered by a few meters of salt crust.

Salt production

The Salar isn’t just a tourist attraction – they do actually harvest the salt for commercial production. Under the crust is a pool of brine, which is rich in lithium – so this tourist attraction actually contains 50 to 70% of the world’s lithium reserves. The Bolivian government is currently developing a production site for lithium to be in operation by 2012. I only hope they develop it with conservation in mind so that future generations can still enjoy the Salar as I have.

Incahuasi Island

The island sits in the middle of the salar and is full of thousand-year old cacti. A walk to the top offers excellent views of the surrounding salar. It’s also called Isla de pescadores because it looks like a fish when approached from afar.

Train cemetary

Last stop on the tour was the train cemetery just outside of Uyuni, which sat at normal elevation of 3,500m. The cemetery was relatively unimpressive, dirty, full of graffiti and rubbish-strewn. We made it to Uyuni just before the heavens opened up with thunder, lightening and rain.

All photos in this post were taken by the author and subject to copyright.