After spending few days in La Paz I decided to finally visit Lauca National Park in Chile and also Sajama National Park in Bolivia which borders it.These parks have unjustifiably been omitted by the ”backpacker bible” – the lonely planet guide. Since almost no travellers visit these parks it meant a bit of hassle getting there. First we caught a very early bus from La Paz to Arica in Chile. We told the bus driver around 3 times to drop us of in Lauca National Park.. After about an hour waiting in the traffic and another 30 minutes driving, I looked at the sign on the other sign of the road saying Parinacota (the village where we were supposed to stay) 23 km. That meant we were already 23 km away from the park. I quickly went and talked to the driver and it turned out he had no idea where Lauca np. is (too bad he didn’t say that in the first place). At least he was nice enough to get us a ride back, who turned out to be a nice chilean guy. Not only did he take us all the way back to where we were supposed to get off, but also to the village where the refuge was. He also offered to pick us up the next day since the transport from the village to the main road was pretty much nonexistent. On the day that we spent in Parincota we hiked (I can even say climbed) to Guaneguane mountain which raises over 5100m above the sea level. We almost made it to the top, but at moments, it just became too dangerous to continue and finally we decided to get down. I can still say I have beaten my personal record that up until now was 5000m on Chimborazo in Ecuador. From the ‘almost top’ we had some amazing views of lake Chungara, Parinacota and Pomerate volcanoes and located nearby Sajama National Park..
I wrote recently that Huascaran National Park in Peru was the most beautiful landscape I have seen so far. After visting Lauca I had to take back what I said. This Park definitely takes the first place now. And I still have Salt Flats and Patagonia to look forward to!