First integral crossing on foot of Uyuni Salt Flat, Llica - Colchani 120 Km approx.
EXPEDITION " JAYU - 86 "
For Alfredo Villca Maida .- Director of AltiplanoExtreme.com
Photography: Jorge Pinto Aguirre
Salting of Uyuni ( 10.500 km2. approx.) almost covers the entirety of the county Daniel Campos of the Department of Potosi, this county has a surface of 12.106 Km2, a dear population of 7.775 inhabitants, 0,64 Hab/Km2. limit to the North with the county Ladislao Goatherd and Abaroa of the Department of Oruro, to the This with the county Quijarro (Potosi), to the West with the Republic of Chile and to the South with the County Nor Lipez (Potosi). The capital of the first section is Llica and of the second Tahua.
The exploitation of the Salt in their biggest scale you the realizaen the end South-this it borders that it is to scarce 2 Km. of Colchani, this town is the neuralgic point of the process and commercialization from the salt to the different points of the Republic. Near the station of railroad of Colchani has settled a plant for the treatment of common salt, enriched with iodine and other preservatives, with a prosecution capacity of of 18.000 toneladas/year for human consumption and 2.700 toneladas/year of salt mineralized for animal consumption
Of an interesting work published in 1981, titled the Salares of the Bolivian Highland, you extract the following information:
The highland has been covered successively by several extensive lakes that deposited layers of salts in the central depression when drying off, the two ultimoses lakes they were the lake Minchin (40.000 to 25.000 B.P.) and the lake Tauca (11.000 to 10.000 years B.P.) the height of the mirror of water of the lake Minchin arrived until the 3.700 mt. and of the lake Tauca until the 3.720 mt.
The lake Tauca was formed by three sub lakes, the sub lake Poopo 12.000 km2, the sub lake Coipasa 11.000 km2 and the sub lake of Uyuni 20.000 km2.
These sub-lakes constituted three very different units. Salting of Uyuni corresponds to the complete evaporation of the waters of the sub-lake Uyuni had happened for 10.000 years, the sug-lake Coipasa accent Salt of Coipasa and the sub-lake Poopo that was less concentrated than the other ones, leaves the current lake Poopo.
Segfun obtained data is not known with accuracy to as much as they ascend the locations of Uyuni Salt Flat, one of the authors mentioned esteem in 2.000 million metric tons the wealth of Salt, If surely takes into account the Lithium and other minerals the potential of Salting it is enormous it dates its characteristics.
Two "Expeditionary" was able to arrive at a small very near island to that of the Fish, where they could verify the flora existence and fauna. It is good to point out that along the whole voyage we don't sight form of life some, alone we find remains of some birds presumably misplaced totally solidified to the salt..
Although obviously this requires a better study the area it is probably one of those but inhospitable of the orb.
Another extremely interesting fact is that in being Salted the notices the roundness of the Earth visibly and given the magnitude of its surface is probably one of the places but planes of the given world the characteristics of its completely uniform and even floor.
A dream to crystallize it:
The preparation of an Expedition demands effort, dedication and time, this for its characteristics it deserved a careful treatment in cunato to its gliding and organization.
The information that that had accumulated it was not very flattering. The experts were shown sceptical and cautious in their apreciasiones, najas temperatures, the impossibility of getting water and food, the eyes of Salting and others are enough you dismal they were the aspects but salient of our occasional informants. For our part we process the in agreement information to our espectativas and objectives, mainly to the viability of the project. For experience we knew that we could not underestimate anything.
Hardened in the glaciers and mountains of our mountain range by our liking to the mountaineering we had ourselves an enormous faith in leaving ahead, we understood that taenia that to have possibilities in all the senses, a margin of safety, the possible maximum. It is in fact in the confrontation with that ignored where the qualities innate dl man arise, the spirit of the voyage was to carry out it without help of anybody a you see in Salting we would prepare alone of our own forces.
We choose the route LLica - Colchani, 120 Km of border salt to border. We would have predominant favorable winds of North-West besides the sun that would be to our backs in the voyage. We had deferred our expedition twice for bad reining time in the area of Salting, it was a dream of months and it had been time to crystallize it.
The nominate of the expedition "JAYU" 86 salt in language Aymara and the dates to be carried out from the 12 to September 22 of 1986.
The transport of water, the feeding and the equipment:
We would owe preveer, transport, feeding and equipment like him but essential. Our main problem was the water for what we design kind of a sleds in iron frame, to those that we couple wheels. We take this desicion based on tests that we carry out and mainly because each person among water, food etc. should transport 30 kilos in the voyage to the desert of salt.
We suit in using equipment of high indispensable mountain for the drops temperatures, strong winds, special carps, bags of sleeping of down, thermal mattresses, mountain eyeglasses and adapted coat clothes.
The feeding was substantial and balanced, milk, trenches, noodles, rice, soups, instantaneous, meats, cheese, honey, raisins, almonds, vegetables fruits and canned. We also had salts rehidratantes and complex vitamínicos, to complete we had two kitchenettes to extremely quick and efficient alcohol.
We prepared of, compass, thermometer a first-aid kit and all the essential one to take the expedition ahead
Toward the white desert:
We part of La Paz city on Friday September 12 in train heading for Uyuni, we arrive to this when averaging 11 in the morning of the following day, at 3 in the afternoon, that same day we go aboard in a "bus" until Llica after supplying us of our vital element it dilutes, we cross the desert of salt so plane as a table, immense as a sea, rapt we contemplated that that serious our habitation for several days.
Almost when falling the afternoon the bus it arrives to the other end (Llica) this located approximately to 10 Km of the border of the saline scab. An icy wind cuts us the expensive one and quickly we arm our first camp on salting extreme North-West to be but exact.
We had 140 liters of water, 20 liters for person, provisions for 8 days and excellent encourage. The following day an experience that it would fascinate equally to all began.
The Thunupa the fish island, salt and more salt:
The day Sunday 14 the voyage begins we leave a.m. at 9 o'clock after a reinforced breakfast, we go into to the desert of salt. We have excellent benchmarks to the end This of our position the Volcano Thunupa, beautiful mountain that accompanied us along the whole itinerary and to the bottom put in salting, hardly visible the Fish Island, but him but important that the print that leave the vehicles when crossing salting to arrive to Llica is completely visible in the whiteness of the salt, in the whole itinerary we would not have any orientation problem.
As we came closer to the Thunupa this it was but majestic, especially its South face that woke up our longings of climbers, called our attention powerfully the Fish Island, then we understood the because of the name, in fact resembles each other to a fish as in rest in a white sea, almost plaster to this they began to be clipped the Bells Islands that also make honor to its name sharply.
We were surrounded of salt and but salt as we went into but the horizon drew a perfect line traced by the
As Arab in a white desert:
Alone we lacked the camels. We seemed Bedouin for the dress that we took in the head, but there was a reason of being, it protected us against the winds, the sun, the one fried and of the reflection of the salt.
The mornings were extremely cold, we walked from 6 to 8 hours, The afternoons became hot, especially if they didn't blow winds. The climate was very changing as well as suddenly it went up the temperature this it lowered abruptly or it remained static without breeze some, as if the time didn't pass, suddenly the strong winds arose and the sun squashed us in the march.
We usually walked 1 hour with rests of 10 minutes to continue this way in rhythmic form the march. It is important to maintain a single rhythm in long walks, it is dosed energy and a premature physical waste is avoided. We made two strong foods
Plane as a table, hard as the cement, immense as a sea:
The Uyuni salt flat is as plane as a table, without reliefs neither depressions, although the banks are humid, one sees going into the salt he/she becomes hard and consistent, standing out a very special characteristic, the one of an asphalted strong and solid in ways exagonales, pentagonal etc. With their borders finely decorations.
In the central area of being salted feels the immensity of the same one, for several our days horizon got lost alone in salt and sky. The mountain range of Sillillica that we had left behind had disappeared completely, alone the Thunupa accompanied us as faithful sentry giving us a confidential sensation and security.
In the voyage we are able to sight some eyes of salting, these in this area were small of about 20 diameter cm and 1 to 2 mts of depth, full with completely saline water, According to information that we could rescue the eyes of being salted they open up and they close in the rainy season and there are them big and deep. In this time and for the route that we follow bigger dangers they don't exist.
And the days you happened, in spite of the monotony of the landscape they were particularly, notables the twilights, for the different tones of the salt, the clouds and the heaven, had them reddish as fire or lit orange, a spectacular game of colors.
The temperature went down notably to the setting of the sun and the one fried it was unbearable outside of the carps. The night but he/she fries it we had on Friday 10, according to our thermometer .10°C. The winds were so violent that they made wobble our carps, these they whipped us to intervals along the whole night. We had one as hurricane, it was the second night in salting, four infernal hours of storm.
The nights were grandiose for the show that we had to view. The Uyuni salt flat glowed in fluorescent tones to the impact of the moon and got lost in tones violets and the stars seemed as hung embers of the heaven, we were in a strange world.
Where we sleep, an anecdote to comment:
In the whole voyage to the desert of salt crossed us three vehicles, (at the moment among the months of May to October high season enters when Uyuni salt flat aprrox. of 50 daily vehicles with tourist ends) like it is very strange to find people walking between salting, they stopped and they made us a heap of questions. In one of those opportunities and when we were already in our third walk day and our horizon was single salt having presumably to our flanks small shades to dozen of kilometers of our position of earth, unemployment a van and its three occupants lowered and they began us to speak.
One of them when coming closer to us for some reason had made a mistake as three "cholitas" (woman with typical gear of the Bolivian highland) and a children walking, we all laugh their occurrence, like we had covered the whole face, other believed us foreign, but like we spoke to the Castilian well the one asks. Are you Bolivian? and where they sleep? one of the expeditionary ones, responded there out, pointing out the delicate earth shades in the distance.