13-Jan-2009 -- This is the sixths confluence that we visited during our trip to Peru, Bolivia and Chile (see map). The story starts from 12°S 77°W.
After three weeks of traveling in Peru and Bolivia, I was eager to finally reach an unvisited confluence point. This time we were on a 3-day tour in a group of 6 people: Our Bolivian driver Philemon, two Finnish girls, a Dutch traveler, Elionora and me. At the very beginning of the trip I pointed out that I wanted to visit this point and that a little deviation of about 2 hours will be necessary. Everybody agreed.
On day two however, our driver did not really remember our agreement. Instead of an early start at 5 a.m. as originally planned, Philemon scheduled our start at 6:30 a.m., what in reality meant that we got going at 7:20 a.m.
After a short stop in the village San Juan, we continued our trip to a little outpost (military checkpoint) with the name Chiguana, which is 7.5 km from the confluence point. Here, I reminded Philemon on our agreement to go to the confluence. Unfortunately, he was not willing to drive us any closer pretending that we would have no time. But, if I really wanted to visit the point, I could walk.
Well, I don’t mind running 15 km through the desert, but I really didn’t want to let everybody wait for two or three hours. An emotional discussion began and I could not convince the driver to take a track northwards that could take us within 3 km to the confluence and that we would win more time if I would set off from there. I should note that Philemon had done this trip for more than a thousand times and that leaving this route meant for him leaving his routine. Additionally, this delay meant we would be later than all the other jeeps that day.
When I was already willing to give it all up, he finally drove us on the side track with his obvious reluctance. At a distance of 3.3 km and a height difference of 400 m I jumped out of the car and started running towards the confluence point. I ran as fast as I could, because 5 people were waiting for me in the heat of the day. But I had to run carefully in order to avoid twisting my ankle on the lava stones that covered the ground. The run was always upwards, for the last section quite steep. The confluence is located half way up a 5320 m high volcano.
When I reached the confluence after 35 minutes, my lungs were close to bleeding. I took the pictures quickly and ran back. One hour after setting off I was back to our jeep. But when I approached our group, they yelled at me that I should slow down! The reason was that we were experiencing a flat tyre. I assisted Philemon with pumping up the tire which helped him to calm down his anger.
Half an hour later, we were ready to head on further south.
CP Visit Details:
- Distance to an asphalt road: 100 km?
- Distance to a road: 4.5 km
- Distance to a track: 3.3 m
- Distance to houses: 7.5 km
- Time at the CP: 11:16 a.m.
- Hiking time (distance): 35 minutes (3.3 km)
- Measured height: 4002 m
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 0 m
- Position accuracy at the CP: 8 m
- Topography: On a slope to a volcano which is 4 km further west. 4 km to the east is a salt flat that can be seen from the confluence.
- Weather: sunny, 27° C (felt temperature)
- Description of the CP: On Bolivia’s highland. South-west of the great Salar de Uyuni in volcanic grounds. Earth covered with lava stones and scattered bushes of grass and little bushes.
- Given Name: The Reluctant Driver Confluence
Story continues at 23°S 68°W.