Sunday (Domingo) 30th May, 2010
Day 443

San Christobel, Bolivia
San Christobel, Bolivia
Miles: 45,260
S 21.15403°
W 67.16678°

Another change of plans - today we decided to take the plunge and follow the trail north rather than return to Chile as was our original plan - why did this feel like a plunge. We had no GPS way points, poor maps and no idea how far to the next fuel source. But there are many tour company Toyotas so we did not feel too bad about the prospects.

It was a beautiful but very cold night. A full moon, blazing stars, and 2°F when we woke. Even inside the Tiger it was well below freezing. Every thing was frozen even the wet tea-towels on the sink.

From our campsite we traversed to the western side of Laguna Colorada to pickup the northern trail. On the north west corner of the Laguna was a "hotel" (a mud brick establishment) with a number of tour company Toyotas parked out front, and an office of the National Park office.

The next 100 km or so was definitely a trail not a road. It passed through a number of wide valleys some composed of soft gravel while others were composed of rock. While there was a clear main trail there were also a myriad of minor trails that vehicles had made in an effort to avoid the corrugations of the main trail. The going was slow, 1st and 2nd gear all the way never getting above 20 mph. Route finding was never really a problem as on the couple of occasions on which we needed some guidance we simply waited for a tour company vehicle to pass and followed it.

The scenery was awesome. Stark, desolate, multi-colored mountains, and numerous salt lakes still frozen from the cold night. Apart from a few outposts servicing the tour business there was no habitation and no signs of native habitation now or in the past.

At the northern end of the trail we found a good quality gravel road running approximately east-west that was not shown on any of our Bolivian maps. We turned west on this road in the hope that it would soon take us to the Chile-Bolivian border post where we could locate ourselves and get directions, and we hoped fuel. We did find the border post, no fuel, 2 buildings, and nothing else. The road we had found was in fact the "highway" to Uyuni our intended destination, and we were told by the helpful customs official that we would get fuel at San Christobel 130 km along this road.

The drive into San Christobel was ok, the road reasonable quality though gravel, the scenery wide high plains with occasionally interesting rock formations. However, the gas station had no diesel. Where could we get some ? - Uyuni another 100 km. At this point I was very glad that we were carrying 11 gallons of spare fuel.

A quick look around the town found the San Christobel hotel. NO rooms but we could park on their premises.


Hotel San Christobel. They had no rooms available but allowed us to park in the parking lot of the hotel and even allowed us to plug into their electricity without charge. The manager told us we could use the bathroom in the lounge but we never found it unlocked.