Middle Class Traveler

Adventures of the Middle Class

Tag: Travel Blog (Page 1 of 3)

Western Canada Road Trip

This summer was spent travelling inside Canada. We did a Western Canada road trip and what a good time it was. I am making a series of blogs about my time out west and so far I have completed two. I thought I might as well outline the trip we went on city by city and as I write more blogs you will know what to look forward to. My first two blogs where about Stanley Park in Vancouver and Lake Louise, Alberta.   So we flew into Vancouver and back home from Edmonton. This was haw we went in between.

Vancouver.

Whistler.

Sydney.

Ucluelet/Tofino.

Hope. (Hells Gate)

Hope.

Kelowna.

Revelstoke

Lake Louise and Banff.

Hinton / Miette Hot Springs.

 

Edmonton.

 

 

One Hour In Lake Louis

With only one hour in Lake Louise we had to zip in and zip out. Lake Louise is a beautiful place to go if you are ever in the Banff, Alberta area. Lake Louis is located about 10 minutes outside of Banff and is located in an extremely convenient location. On our trip to Lake Louise we weren’t even going to go and when we decided last minute to go we ended up getting stuck in traffic. This is one thing about the area, lots and lots of traffic. When we arrived at the parking area we had to go through it twice just to find a spot so if you are going be prepared for the possibility of parking about 15 minutes away. I wouldn’t worry though because there are shuttle buses provided.

This little hour wasn’t to eventful so I won’t bore all you readers with it but what I have to say is that it is an amazing spot for photography. You have the aqua blue lakes with the snow covered mountains and the aqua streams. It is a definite must see if you are in the area as it is absolutely breath taking.

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A day in Stanley Park

This year we decided to do a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. If you have never been to Vancouver, you will be quite presently surprised. Our trip got off to a rocky start because of an airline mishap that should not have happened. I won’t bore you with those details on this post because that one deserves a post of its own!

We flew out of Toronto Pearson and landed at Vancouver International to begin the trip. Upon arrival we had rented a vehicle for our stay and since Vancouver wasn’t our only destination and considering we were about to embark in a road trip through the Rocky Mountains we decided to rent a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Actually that was a great choice so I give that a recommendation. We drove from the airport to our condo which was across the street from Stanley Park. This park is a major tourist destination in Vancouver and is beautiful. Vancouver is a great city and very walkable. While we were there I never took the car out once because to me the city didn’t seem like a very car friendly city, with all the bike lanes and such.

We spent 3 days in Vancouver before heading over to Whistler so we had plenty of time see and do some very exciting things. We started off by walking the entire Stanley Park and we got a pleasant surprise when we were almost done. For those of you who have never been to Stanley Park, there is an amazing public pool that is heated just near the end. This was great considering we had walked for about 3 hours.

After the public pool we decided to walk some nature trails and that lead us up to the aquarium. The aquarium here in Vancouver is relatively the same as the Ripley’s one in Toronto but it does have some outdoor scenery so even if you have been to the one in Toronto, this is a must do! After the aquarium we walked around some more and went to have a late lunch at one of the little restaurants on the pier. This was a nice little place and I would recommend. I will add some pics to show all that I we have done so don’t worry. lol

There is much more than a pool and aquarium though in Stanley Park so if you do go here I would recommend attending all or at least one of these destinations:
Sea Wall
trails
Pitch and Putt
Picnic Areas
Tennis Courts
Splash Pad
Totem Poles
and much, much more!!!!

This was just the beginning of our 12 day adventure from Vancouver to Edmonton. Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest to see much more about our travels. Little disclosure time… This blog post has affiliate links that if you click and use will help pay for the blog.

Top 10 Eco-friendly resorts in the world

Are you an eco-friendly tourist who pays right tribute to the nature for its blessings? There are the places pristine or tropical with nature in its purest form, undisturbed. It’s very easy to clear out woods and build in massive luxury places but it takes thought and effort to build something amazing and inspiring while preserving what’s around. When you choose to go green, you don’t go along with the masses. You choose nature over buzzing city life. You see the outstanding beauty that nature has over any other. And yes, there is happiness, magic, and peace in nature that surrounds us. But that’s not all. It has many thrilling adventures packed up for us. So why wait? Here’s a list of the top 10 eco-friendly resorts reviewed and recommended by all-time popular travel magazines. All these destinations ensure that your money spent here is far more worth than anywhere because they are all about luxury + nature.

1. Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve


This award-winning five-star lodge sets the perfect standard for a well-spent holiday. Situated in the Western Cape of South Africa and as the name implies, this lodge is defined with lush wilderness and is ideal for sport. Since it is amidst the South African Natural Heritage site, you will have an amazing view of impressive fauna and flora with many endangered species, not to mention the Big Five. This site is also close to a rock-art site containing around 130 ancient Bushman’s art. Bushman’s reserve boasts of an iconic private villa, the Koro Lodge and other 16 top-notch suites and rooms. The outstanding spa with the outdoor Gazebo is what’s really famous here and one of the top favorites among its frequent visitors. Immerse yourself in luxury while getting fascinated by the wonders of nature in this eco-friendly resort.

2. Luna Lodge, Costa Rica


Like most destinations in Costa Rica, Luna Lodge also gives due credit for the wild nature. If what you are seeking is a remote, nature bound holiday to soothe your hectic mind, this is perfect for you. What Luna Lodge has to offer you is endless. You can involve in yoga lessons or spa treatments to comfort yourself. Then head off to hiking or bird-watching to fuel yourself with fresh air. Also, remember to have a spark of excitement through kayaking or horseback riding into the thick wilderness. But the most priceless offer is the exotic ambiance of a tropical rainforest with gushing waterfalls. This eco-friendly resort runs on hydro-energy, has organic swimming pools and many other which boasts being eco-friendly. Yes, the exact thing you are looking for!

3. Laucala Island Resort, Fiji


Looking for an island escape far away from city life? Well then, a perfect private island resort waits for your visit to give you an ultimate experience of an islander. Located in Fiji, this resort is a cluster 25 unique Fijian style built villas. Coconut plantations and palm trees, sandy beaches, sea-green lagoons and greenish peaks and scenic views are what will encircle you in Laucala. But that’s not all. You can get into a boat and go for diving or game fishing or pay a visit to the spa or even choose to go on horse riding. This eco-friendly resort genuinely plays its part towards its visitors where most of the island is preserved wilderness and the villas run on environmental-friendly supplies. After a well spent day, you can help yourself with delicious cuisine and rest in one of its cozy villas.

4. Turtle Island Resort, Fiji


Here’s another paradise island for you to delve in ecstasy. Surrounded by the breathtaking view and scents of tropical flora, the scenic landscape is simply picture perfect. With only 14 villas accommodating only 14 couples at a time, Turtle Island is magic for honeymooners and lovers. Get yourself excited and tranquillized at the same time with private beaches, the immense luxury of the villas and the eco-friendly ambiance. Even if you are an adventurous island seeker, thrilled to explore and wander in peace, this is an ideal eco-friendly resort you must not miss.

5. Tiamo Resort, Bahamas


Located in the heart of Caribbean, in South Andros Island, Tiamo resort is full of life. The specialty is that it’s encircled by the ocean and is accessible only by boat or seaplane. So, it sounds like the perfect getaway you would crave for with luxury awaiting you to settle in peace. The popular Bird’s Nest in Tiamo Resort is a three bedroom villa boasting of grandeur with 10 other equally charming villas located nearby. Though all of them are furnished with modern facilities, this haven of recreation is built in a traditional Caribbean style. When you are in this top eco-friendly resort, the lush greenery of Bahamas and golden sandy beaches will invite you for many adventurous activities. But you can always stay idle and still find the visit unforgettable.

6. Jicaro Island Lodge, Nicaragua


What this beautifully built lodge has to offer you is simply one-of-a-kind. It will remind you of cottages in books surrounded by woods with a lake flowing nearby. Jicaro is simply a picturesque vacation spot that will awaken your lively spirits instantly. This is a world renowned eco-friendly resort for many reasons. First, Jicaro is found amidst the nature in its purest form and many things in this lodge run on supplies from nature. Also, it encourages its visitors to be eco-friendly with reusable aluminum bottles instead of plastic, heated solar panels that generate electricity and organic biodegradable toiletries. So, Jicaro can be the first step of your journey as an eco-friendly tourist So, Prepare to enjoy yourself while paying tribute to Mother Nature.

7. Machu Pichu Pueblo Hotel, Peru


This colonial style property is clustered in an Andean village with high hills, gushing waterfalls and attractive stone pathways. The abundant bird species, attractive varieties of flowers blossomed all over; the famous hot springs and the forest that is situated within a short walk from the hotel are top attractions here. What’s more the greatest archaeological site, Machu Pichu is tucked in the peaks just above the hotel. The Unu Spa in the hotel which offers you a nurturing sensual experience uses extracts of natural products from the forest located nearby. The eco-friendly resort itself is much preferred by the Mach Pichu visitors for giving the best value for the price paid with comfortable accommodation.

8. Brando, French Polynesia


The pristine natured luxury resort is renowned globally for its beautiful scenic location. Tucked in French Polynesia’s island of Tetiaroa, this top-notch eco- friendly resort is a star among celebrities. When you land in here through a seaplane, the first sight Brando offers you is its breathtaking solitude atmosphere lined with white-sand beaches. Thirty-five elegant villas boast of luxury yet of contemporary furnishings and well equipped with a private pool and an outdoor dining area. These villas are designed to reflect the Polynesian life and culture with such a cozy environment built within that will persuade you to remain indoors all times. But the outside is much magnificent and defines the best eco-vacation. During your stay, you will come across rare scenes of sea turtles and manta rays and if you explore the island you will be surrounded by wild nature and exotic birds. If what you crave is for mere privacy, Brando offers you it as all these villas are separated by a grove of trees.

9. Unique Garden Hotel and Spa, Brazil


The modern era gives you untimely travel experiences with countries seeking to make their travel destinations eco-friendly today. Brazil plays its part with this eco-friendly hotel which gives its visitors nature bound, healthy and tranquil mind-body-soul experience. The acres of gardens here are blossomed with fragrant and exotic flowers all throughout the year which means you can visit it anytime of the year. The accommodation here is all garden themed but comes in varieties for you to choose. The spa on the other hand simply gives due credit for your body, soothing it in and out. The experience you will get is much more worth than the money you pay because it’s simply divine and is perfect for relaxation after a hectic lifestyle.

10. Couran Cove Island Resort, Australia
Located in the South Stradbroke Island centered around beaches and rainforests, this eco-friendly resort is not just blessed with the perfect natural ambiance but also offers its visitors a range of awe-inspiring activities to take part in. You can relax and work on the perfect tan or you can get yourself boosted with adventures. Couran Cove is for adrenaline seekers as there are water sports from ski boat to tube rides and 4WD tours into the island full of heritage listed bush lands and native animals. There’s also the exciting virtual reality gaming, an assortment of sports and seaplane scenic flights to delight you with! The accommodation isn’t less pleasing either. It offers you with well-furnished rooms, special gourmet dining and an overview of the beautiful setting of the island. So from couples to nature enthusiasts are welcome to experience this bundle of joy.

About the Author: This article was written by Raeesha Ikram, savvy travel blogger at asabbatical.com, a solo travel blog of Adrian Sameli. To connect with Raeesha, follow her on Facebook.

Social Media and Travel Blogging 

Let’s take a look at Social Media and Travel Blogging. Recently I had to delete my Facebook app off my phone because it was just to tempting to make comments on every post that I didn’t like. It really became time consuming, even though it really didn’t interrupt any activities in my day. This really brings me to my next point, do you need to use social media when writing a travel blog? Yes! You do, so what do you need to do?.

During my social media (Facebook) time out I decided to readjust my apps. I have been using other apps that I have and am concentrating on growing my followers on a number of them. Currently I use Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. I find my Instagram account is basically a personal account that I have used before I decided to start a travel blog and I incorporated the two. As for Twitter I have multiple accounts and they are really easy to manage because of the way Twitter has it set up. With Pinterest I use that as a personal/travel type of account, I have everything from food, funny meme’s to Travel Destinations and deals. I like Pinterest and a few months ago I transformed my Pinterest account into a business account which is amazing because you can see analytics, where you get tons of info on locations of followers and who repins your pins. I found Pinterest to be a good tool to drive traffic to my blog as well. What you want to look for in Pinterest is to set up a rich pin.

The experts say that Pinterest is the number one traffic driving app that they have but for me Facebook was and is the number one traffic driving app to my blog. That said, you can see my dellema for deleting the Facebook app off my phone. Let’s face it most of us are constantly on the go and more than likely have Facebook on our phone and check in to it pretty frequently.

When I decided to delete the Facebook app I was contemplating deleting all my Facebook stuff off of my phone as well but didn’t. What I decided to do was keep the Facebook Pages app, Facebook ads app and Facebook messenger. I kept the messanger app because although I decided not to post on my personal page I am still able to receive messages from friends and clients, which is useful. Now that I have done that I kept the Facebook Pages app because that’s how I can just access my page to post blog posts and affiliate links and things like that.

 

Here I am talking about how I deleted my Facebook app but still have the others that are essentially Facebook lol but that doesn’t matter because my main goal of Facebook for my travel blog is to reach people and converse with them while they are responding to a post I made about an epic travel adventure!

Next up is the twittershere and that can be completely bananas at some points. I am so happy that right out of the gate I started my travel account and kept it separate from my personal account because my main focus on my travel account is to find travel bloggers and blogs that I like and can get tips from. My personal twitter account I love keeping separate because I love tweeting about news, politics and sports. That is or would be a disaster to my blog because honestly what I’ve witnessed is that some bloggers happen to live in a different world…. enough said. Nonetheless it works amazingly and doesn’t really appear to have bad consequences, I can retweet my own stuff to a different group of followers than the travel ones and hopefully get some additional traffic to my blog. Twitter is a good place to be if you want info and to discover other blogs, much better than Facebook in my opinion.

Pinterest like I said earlier is a major traffic driver to my blog and since o have found it and started learning it my blog has received about 20% more traffic than when I wasn’t using it. The thing with Pinterest is that you have your pins on boards for ever and they constantly get visitors but unless you are repinning you won’t see a large volume of traffic going to your blog and when you stop repinning you traffic stops as well. This makes it time very time consuming, especially since they say to pin 8 out of 10 posts should be other people’s pins. That’s what they say and that’s what I find the most difficult because you have so many boards that you are constantly repinning other people’s stuff, sharing is good and it comes back but it’s time consuming.

Instagram is a nice tool for taking pictures and posting videos, little snap shots of your life, but I have found it useless for driving traffic. When you post links in your pictures they can’t be automatically directed to your blog because they need to copy and paste and that’s a pain. Visually Instagram is awesome and you will notice I have a feed in my blog from Instagram, but again if you are trying to use it to drive traffic to your blog it isn’t going to happen, not for me anyways.
So it’s been a little over a week since I have visited my Facebook account and I don’t miss it and neither has my blog. If there is one thing I do need it for though is the Facebook travel groups I belong to. These groups have been amazing for finding other blogs and interacting with other travel bloggers to get tips and tricks. Nonetheless that’s about that for social media in my opinion.
If you want to follow me on social media and see how many followers I have as of April 1st 2017, my handles are:
Twitter 3523 – @YSBTravelBlog
Pinterest 598 – thebeaudge
Instagram 1179 – the_beaudge
Facebook 836 – Middleclass Traveler

Top 5 Must Do Chicago Attractions

Have you ever been to Chicago? Probably not if you are reading this blog post. Here are the top 5 must do Chicago attractions. 

The Windy City as it is nicknamed has a number of beautiful places and you will love everything the city has to offer. That’s why it was tough to narrow down the top 5 but here we go and in no particular order! 

1)  Cloud Gate – this is a magnificent sculpture in the heart of  Chicago in Millennium Park in the Loop community area. 

2) Wrigley Field – This iconic baseball stadium has been home to so many greats. The story of this place goes back decades and has seen some of the greatest baseball players of all time. 

3) Navy Pier – Located in the Streeterville neighbourhood. You will find a ton of family oriented attractions with beautiful scenery of Lake Michigan. This place is a gem and definitely something you want to see. 

4) Millenium Park – This wonderful park is located in the Loop Community and is within a short distance to the shores of Lake Michigan. It is an amazing place. The park is a perfect place to bring the family and to experience celebrations and skating in the winter.

5) Chicago River Walk -This beauty is located on the South Bank of the Chicago River. You will be spending a wonderful afternoon here taking in all that this area has to offer. While in this area you will find numerous restaurants,l, an amphitheater and even kayak rentals. It’s a must see destination for Chicago. 

Now that I have mentioned some the great things to do in Chicago you will find much much more to do in this historic American city. I hope you truely enjoy any and all of these fun family attractions. 

Top 5 Bucket List Destinations in Canada

Canada is the most beautiful country in the world and from coast to coast to coast we have everything to offer. My list of the Top 5 Bucket List Destinations in Canada will be very authentic. If you ever want to travel to Canada this will give you a great start to where to go.

I have assembled this list and I hope you find it helpful. The Top 5 Bucket List Destinations in Canada:

  1. Signal Hill, St.John’s, Newfoundland – The most eastern point in North America, you will want to see this place. You can sit at the top of the hill and be the first in the western world to see the sun rise. This place is also home of iceberg alley. Should you come here at the right time of the year, you will see icebergs coming down from the arctic. You can read my recent trip to Signal Hill and St.John’s Newfoundland here.
  2. Rideau Canal, Ottawa, Ontario – Ottawa, Ontario which is the nations capital and is one of the nicest cities in the entire country. This place has a beautiful setting and borders Gatineau, Quebec. If you go to Ottawa in the winter the Rideau Canal is frozen over and people skate up and down the canal. The area which is steps from the Parliament Buildings is a great spot for tourist. Ottawa offers so much to do and is reasonably priced. The best Shawarma’s in Canada are at the Shawarma King on Rideau. You will not go wrong eating at this place. There is so much to do in Ottawa that I may have to write a separate blog on it all together. In the mean time check out this one. Check out the Rideau Canal tourism website here.
  3. Calgary, Alberta – Calgary Alberta is home to a number of beautiful attractions. Whether you are planning a winter getaway or a summer retreat Calgary has plenty to offer. I was recently in Calgary for the Stampede and wrote a number of blogs about it that can be found here. If you do go to the Stampede you will be pleasantly surprised buy the cost of everything. Unlike Toronto, in my opinion, you will find great prices on everything from beer to hotel rooms. If you like winter than this city has it all. They were the host of the 1988 winter Olympics so they have plenty of attractions for everyone. Calgary Tourism Website can help you discover tons of information right here.
  4. Banff, Alberta – Banff Alberta is a resort town and has tons of amazing things to do and see. If you love to ski or snowboard it will definitely be somewhere you want to go atlas once in your life. Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest park and has breathtaking scenery that will leave you speechless. Bow Lake, Peyto Lake and Lake Louise are just a few of the lakes you will want to view. Skiing and snowboarding at Lake Louise in Banff is spectacular and a must do for avid winter outdoors people. Check out Banff Travel and Tourism Website here.
  5. Victoria, British Columbia – Victoria is one of the most unique and wonderful places on the West Coast. Once you take the fairy to Victoria Island over from Vancouver, you will find loads of things to do. Victoria Island is home to numerous Craft Beer Breweries and festivals so if that is your thing you will love this place. Also Victoria has a number of Spas, Restaurants and festivals year round that will leave you ecstatic that you chose this as your next travel destination. Check out Victoria Travel and Tourism Website here for more information.

Taking a trip to any of these destinations will be nothing short of fantastic and you will love what all have to offer. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter which will provide you with some of the most amazing travel deals out there.

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Horseshoe Ski Resort

Horseshoe Valley ski resort is located about 20 minutes north of Barrie, Ontario. We do not live in Barrie though so it was about a 3 hour drive for us. We decided to go to this resort because of the price compared to others such as Blue Mountain in Collingwood.

Skiing in Ontario, Canada is one of the greatest experiences you will have. The snow is plentiful and usually the weather is great. The snow belt which it is often called is located between Toronto, Ontario and Perry Sound, Ontario. The weather in this part is usually snowing and with the mild temperatures and mountainous terrane it makes for perfect ski weather.

 

The resort we stayed at was the Horseshoe Resort and the part of the resort we stayed in was the Slopeside Condos. We rented a 2 bedroom slope side condo for 5 days and it happened to be on the 3rd of 5 floors. The resort is very pet friendly and we brought our big black lab with us for the trip. I would say though that they should have more garbages located on the resort because there is only few places you can throw away your dogs poop.

The condos were very dated to 1990’s or even earlier but while we were there I enquired and they are renovating top to bottom the condos and are selling them at the end of this ski year. I would suspect the price to sky rocket after that. I was surprised about the skiing there though and considering the price of the condos.

While we were there we needed to get some stuff and there is a grocery store and beer/liquor store within a 5 minute drive up the road. So that isn’t to bad. What is on the resort is 2 restaurants and a cafeteria. The restaurants are great and not that pricey considering where you are. I would definitely recommend eating at the Crazy Horse Sports Bar. This place has an abundance of TV’s and has a very good atmosphere. if you like to eat a bit more of a fancy meal than I would recommend the Inn Steakhouse which is good but a little bit more formal.

 

The meals we had were all good and the fact we had our own condo makes these types of get aways even better because its a lot more convenient to wake up in the morning and brew your coffee, get your kid a bowl of cereal and make some bacon and eggs. If thats your thing than condos are the way to go!

Now for what we went for, the skiing and snow tubing! The Snow tubing was excellent and the hill appeared to be very high. The top was a little disorganized and you kinda just pick whatever line you want and hope for the best. to get to the top you take a conveyor belt so thats a bonus as you don’t have to do any walking. While we were there the price was great. The day we went it was $10 unlimited riding but the regular price is $4 a ride. That isn’t to bad because how many times are you really going to go down? Really?

On to the skiing at Horseshoe Resort. This hill is excellent for beginners. I haven’t skied in about 20 years so I didn’t know what to expect at all. When we arrived we ended up renting skis which was extremely costly. My wife and son both took lessons and for the 5 year old it was expensive but definitely worth it. He took group lessons which were pretty much 1 on 1 and they lasted 2 hours, we signed him up 2 days in a row. My wife on the other hand took one 2 hour lesson and learned a lot as well. She had never skied before and it was her first time so it was good for her to get a lesson in.

Now the hill is small but they do have or did have 4 chair lifts operational while we were there. I know when I say small that doesn’t sound like it but and it is bigger than some of the other hills in Ontario but if you have ever been to Mont Tremblant or skiing in British Columbia than you would know what I mean. Nonetheless this hill is perfect for beginners and the kids or bunny hill is amazing for the tykes with lots of room and its own chair lift. So when they try this one and get comfortable it should just be a progression over to the main ones.

Well this was the trip in a nutshell and you can visit my Facebook page, Twitter Account, Instagram or Pinterest to see more incredible journey’s! Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I Dreamed of Another World


A last glance at the Laguna Colorada in the early morning: this shallow salty lake has regained its serenity and lost its intense red color, but still offers striking reflections. We head toward the desert of Siloli in Southwestern Bolivia, a desert dominated by magnificent ocher colors and surrealist landscape. The Siloli desert features unusual natural sculptures. The most stunning rock formation is the must see Arbol del Piedra known as the stone tree. A fragile-looking geomorphological rock formation, it is an impressive 16 feet high. It marks the entrance to the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve established in 1953 in Sur Lipez Province in the far Southwestern region of Bolivia. From there we begin our journey along the “Ruta de Las Joyas,” crossing successively several lagoons: Honda, Chiar Kota, Hedionda, and Cañapa.

Starbucks

In a landscape surrounded by volcanoes in the distance, Laguna Honda, whose name means “deep lake”, is in fact only 2 inches deep. But this shallow lagoon is particularly calm, and the bright blue sky is reflected in this true natural mirror. Laguna Cañapa is an endorheic salt lake with a surface area of 1.4 km2 is also surrounded by volcanoes and home to significant wildlife such as flamingos. It is a breathtaking sight, especially when the colonies of pink flamingos take flight… Two flamingos (speaking Walloon together), dress in pink, gently shake a leg and hobble in steps hushed by the water of the lagoon. They peck at salt larva, then evaporate in a few strokes of feathers… magical!

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Following the Las Joyas road, we reach the Salar de Chiguana (415 km2), at over 11,810 feet above sea level. The railway line connecting Uyuni to the Chilean coast crosses the Salar de Chiguana. After the War of the Pacific in 1884 with Chile, Bolivia lost the Atacama Desert, thereby becoming a landlocked country. Under the peace treaty of 1904, Chile guaranteed freedom of transit for Bolivian commerce to the ports of Angofasta and built the Arica-La Paz Railroad, connecting the Bolivian capital to the coast. In the Salar de Chiguana there are small boron mineral deposits that were mined in the early 1990s and exported to Europe. This amazing landscape of salt stretches endlessly to the horizon with the giant volcano Ollagüe looming in the background. The volcano is situated at the border between Chile and Bolivia (height 19,252 feet). It is one of the most active volcanoes in the entire Cordillera Occidental. Although the landscape recalls the Southwestern of the United States, the Salar de Chiguana has a strange omnipresent succulent, the Yareta, which resembles moss stuck on large stones. In fact, the plant is as hard as a rock and grows concentrically extremely slowly for centuries. Locals in remote villages of the Altiplano used this succulent, full of resin, to heat their homes.

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Turning to the villages, we arrive at San Juan Rosarion, usually called San Juan, a tiny place, but a semblance of a return to civilization where travelers can spend the night in hotels or, more commonly, shelters built entirely of salt. Walls are made of salt bricks as are tables, chairs, and beds. The floors are grains of salt.

Virgin Atlantic

Up very early for another highlight of the trip: the sunrise over the Salar de Uyuni. The “White Ténéré” at 4,086 square miles is the world’s largest salt flat and lies near the crest of the Andes at 11,995 feet. “I dreamed of another world / Who remain a mystery / A landless mundane / Yes, I wanted to jump into the air” (Free translation of the lyrics by the French singer Téléphone – Je rêvais d’un autre monde). All limits fall away in this other world of extreme climatic conditions. It is a timeless and spaceless journey to discover the Salar de Uyuni. As Alphonse Lamartine wrote, “O time Suspend your flight, and you, propitious hours, suspend your course: Let us savor the fleeting delights / The most beautiful today!” The desert plains, desperately flat and blindingly white, stretches out as far as our eyes can see. The Salar de Uyuni is a unique show, a landscape both lunar and solar, cold and sparkling. Only passengers on the space shuttles can see the whole desert.

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This natural marvel of the end of the world is, like Titicaca, one of the remains of a vast inland sea that stretched between two mountain ranges and then evaporated. A brief geological history of the Salar tells us that tens of thousand years ago Lake Minchin covered the area. Instead, now we have a desert of salt composed of billions of salt crystals. But there is another version of the story, a charming local legend about the formation of the Salar de Uyuni is linked to the dormant Tunupa Volcano on the Northern side of the Salar de Uyuni rising to 17,457 feet above sea level. Legend says that the Altiplano’s volcanoes could speak and move. Only Tunupa was female. One day Tunupa became pregnant, but the child’s father was unknown. Male volcanoes talked all night and took the decision to remove the small volcano from his mother. This decision infuriated the gods, and they withdrew the right to move, talk and meet from the volcanoes. Tunupa volcano wept so much that her tears mixed with her milk spread on the dry ground; thus was born the Salar de Uyuni.

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Amid this white area stands the Isla Incahuasi Quechua “the Inca house.” It is also called “Isla de los Pescadores” in reference to the neighboring island “Isla del Pescado” featuring giant cacti on an area of 61 acres and forming a hilly and rocky projection in the middle of the Salar – salt flat. There are walking trails allowing tourists to hike easily to the summit for a superb view of the vast white Salar with Tunapa in the distance. In addition to cactus in bloom, the island is also inhabited by the Bolivian vizcacha, Andean rabbits of the Chinchillidae family.


The Salar is composed of 10,000 billion tons of salt of which more than 25,000 tons are extracted annually. It is also rich in minerals, and its crust covers a pool of brine, exceptionally rich in lithium, an estimated 140 million tons and a large part of the world’s reserve. The depth of this salt flat is 460 feet. It consists of 11 distinct layers of salt whose thicknesses varies between 2 and 10 meters. To be in the middle of the Salar is like being in the midst of an infinite mirror; visual perceptions will surprise you. Fresh and salt water rivers underlie the surface of the Salar. This water, which passes under the salt crust, carries with it air that will find a way out. Ojos de Agua are round holes forming small eyes in the heart of the Salar where air and water well up from under the salt crust.

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The train graveyard, the “cimenterio de los trenes”, Uyuni, is the last stop on this Bolivian journey. It is located 2 miles outside the city of Ulyni. A legacy of the age of steam, dozens of old steam locomotives from the early years of the last century peacefully end their lives in the middle of the Salar. From the late 19th century to Mid-twenty century, Bolivia knew a golden age as a result of silver mining. When the silver era dried up, there was no need for a train network. Uyuni, in Southwestern Bolivia, was a transportation hub for trains carrying silver and other minerals from the surrounding mines to the Pacific Ocean. Another early departure at dawn to enjoy a Bolivian landscape like no other !
Hasta pronto

This blog post was written for www.middleclasstraveler.com by http://www.c-ludik.fr/en/

Across The Border



“Should we cross the border / Going Beyond / Without missteps / Discover what is behind…” (Donoré – Passer la Frontière). Let’s cross the border and discover the Bolivian Altiplano, seemingly “the region” to discover. The Altiplano or high plain is located in west-central South America, lying between Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Argentina. It is the second largest plateau in the world after the Tibetan plateau. The Bolivian Altiplano is beyond anyone’s imagination, at least, mine and probably yours: an endless, magnificent journey amidst surrealist scenery straight from another planet, and an arduous journey as well. A region with an arid climate where the mountain tops and Salars de Uyuni stretch to infinity. The scenery of the Bolivian Altiplano is among the most beautiful in the world!


Just after crossing into Southwestern Bolivia, the Laguna Verde, a salt lake with blue-green hues, appears at an elevation of 14,100 feet nestled at the foot of the magnificent volcano Licancabur, which rises to 19,252 feet. The lake offers a colorful panorama of breathtaking beauty. The magnificent colors result from a high concentration of lead carbonate, arsenic, calcium, and sulfur. You just want to jump right in. At daybreak, as the sediment in the lake is stirred by the wind, the lake’s colors can change from deep brown to emerald green in a second. Between noon and 2 P.M. green is the most striking color. The region is, during the day, constantly exposed to an icy wind, whipping the surface of the water into white caps. Next to Laguna Verde, across a narrow strip of land, is the Laguna Bianca. Like Laguna Verde, Laguna Bianca at an elevation of 14,270 feet on the Altiplano is named for color created by the high concentration of minerals in its waters. The play of colors and reflections on the lake waters is everything but wearisome.

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The Bolivian Altiplano is characterized by a clear, deep blue sky, blinding, high-altitude sunshine, ultraviolet rays that burn the skin, and rarefied oxygen where the slightest movement requires great effort. In the colorful barren landscape stretching to infinity, only the snow-covered mountain peaks mountains shimmering at the horizon catch your eye. Here water boils at 158° Fahrenheit. In such scenery, the experienced Bolivian tour guides and drivers seem to have their itineraries engraved in their brains like road maps. Soon we cross the Dali Desert, also known as the Deli Valley in Southwestern Bolivia, located at an elevation of 15,584 feet. This is a surreal moon-like landscape. The minerals give the supernatural landscape colors that resemble the surrealist paintings by Salvador Dali. Rock formations eroded by strong wind could not be more surprising as if were sculpted by the artist himself!
In this desert, apparently hostile to all life, we find wild herds of hoofed vicuñas from camelid family— a kind of camel without a hump—and also their predator, Mister Fox. As Sting sang, “The Fox had done running / And the beast is at bay / He’d run them in circles / By the end of the day” (Sting – The End of the Game).

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

At the foot of Cerro Polques lies a small hot-spring pool, the “Thermas del Polques,” with a temperature reaching 86 °Fahrenheit, while outside temperatures are much lower… We are still at 14,108 above sea level! For fun, you can bathe or just dip your feet in the warm water rich in minerals while marveling at the landscape of the Laguna Salada.

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Fifty kilometers away at 15,978 feet above sea level lies Solfataras, a geothermal field in the Sol de Manana, “Morning Sun” in Spanish. It is an impressive two square kilometers of steam pools with bubbling mud and hellish fumaroles. The Sol de Manana has a splendid landscape of colors and sounds. Listen carefully: the area whistles, smokes, bubbles like a pressure cooker! Be careful where you put your feet because there is no protection. You need caution with every step. A thick smell of sulfur hovers over The Sol de Manana. As usual, we are warm inside, but cold outside! Remnants of winter surround the Sol de Manana, extraordinary peaks waiting for Spring’s final frost !

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We arrive at the Laguna Colorada, a shallow salt lake in the Southwest of Bolivia’s Altiplano near the Chilean border, a moment we have been waiting for since the beginning of the trip. We are stunned and dazzled by the splendor. Even though I had previously seen a few photographs, the reality is quite different. The waters of the lake have a stunning bright reddish color resulting from the wind disturbing the red sediment and the pigmentation of some algae. This shallow lake, only about 3 feet deep, and surrounded by mountains, covers an area of 23 square miles at 14,035 feet. Algae and plankton thrive in the mineral-rich waters. The lagoon hosts numerous colonies of flamingos that proliferate because of a lack of predators. In the Andes, there are three endemic species of flamingos: the Chilean flamingo, distinguished by its grayish legs with pink joints and a white and black beak, is 43-51 inches high and feeds on crustaceans; the James’ flamingo, the smallest of the three, and the Andean flamingo, the largest with a pale yellow and black beak, and which, like the James’ Flamingo, feeds on algae. In addition, to the colonies of pink flamingos, lamas (small and large) graze peacefully on the edge of the lagoon. Dream or reality… we do not quite know where to look, it makes your head spin and hurt… the joys of high altitude!


This Blog was created by http://www.c-ludik.fr/en/ for www.middleclasstraveler.com. Please visit the above website for more exiting travels!

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