The Diary

South Western Circuit Day 1

Heading off the Salar we drove towards Colcha K (Villa Martin) to begin the South Western Circuit, one of the world's harshest wilderness regions.

As we approached Colcha K we saw people carrying bundles of grass on their backs and we soon realised they were military and we were passing their training ground. Reaching the town we were stopped by some soldiers to take our details - all jotted down on a scrap piece of paper (name, date of birth, nationality and profession). They started to ask us about our "permiso" to travel and pretending to be the ignorant gringos we just showed them our toll receipts and they seemed to get bored and just waived us on......We didn't want to be stung again for a fake "infraction".

From there we headed towards San Juan, a small town about 15km from Colcha K. Lots of the town people were working on the pond but soon stopped work to have a look as the Weasel drove through. Then through the salt flat of Chiguana where we could start to see the active volcano Ollagüe with its smoking fumeroles in the distance. There is a military camp at Chiguana and supposedly your passports are checked by the soldiers there, but we drove around the outside and didn't see anyone.


The road then started to climb and was fairly rough, passing various Lagunas - Canapa, Hedionda, Chiarkhota, Honda and Ramaditas - home to numerous flamingoes. By this stage we were pretty tired and were looking for a suitable place to camp up for the night. The only problem was the wind which had picked up incredibly and we struggled to find somewhere sheltered, accepting in the end that it was going to be an unavoidably cold and windy night. But it had been a great day, and good fun with all the off roading and being miles from anywhere, barely seeing a single soul.


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