The park also includes some small salares (salt flats), including the Salar Chalviri, which besides salt also has other minerals such as sodium borate. Also known as borax, this mineral is used by locals as a natural washing powder.
In this area there are some sights that are particularly special for their specific landscape. One of them is called Dali's Desert due to its resembleness to some of Salvador Dali's surrealist paintings. It is a particular arid area of the park where some rocks are scattered along the sandy mountains.
We couldn't also forget that the whole park is located between 4.000 and 5.500m altitude. In a way it was a blessing that we didn't hike much, because we know how hard would it be in these heights!...
Nevertheless, we've never expected to find such unique landscape. It is like a very special corner of Earth, placed high for Gods to use it as a play-yard and make all the experiments they want with nature.
Although we haven't felt much altitude sickness, our Bolivian travel partners (our driver and guide Victor and cook Maura) kept chewing coca leaves through the day. Actually that is a very common practice in all high lands of Bolivia, as it is believed to attenuate some of the effects of altitude sickness. It is also common to find coca tea and some other products made from the coca leave. Is is important to distinguish the coca leaves from the processed drug made from it, the cocaine. Cocaine is a psychoactive alkaloid that is obtain from coca leaves through a chemical process, Surprisingly the coca leave has only a percentage of 0.25% to 0.77% from this alkaloid. This important difference was even remarked by Bolivia's current president, Evo Morales, in a speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations. Holding a coca leave on his hand he stated that the coca is green, not white. We have to agree on that difference and that, in spite of the terrible effects that cocaine dependence can cause, it is quite arrogant for western countries to blame directly on producer countries the maleficences of product created by the western countries themselves, when the coca leave has been part of South America's cultures for centuries.
After another perfect lunch prepared by Maura, we headed to another volcanic activity point. This one had everything: fumaroles, boiling water, boling mud, sulphur springs and even a fumarole that released so much steam that looked like a geyser. We stepped around this place carefully as the soil was litterlly burning in many points and the ground could actually give away.
Many mythical animals, such as the unicorn or the dragon, were probably inspired on real animals. For me, the flamingo has always been the phoenix. Their bright pink and red colours makes them seem burning and returning form the ashes.
Reaching a place like this, high as the sky, finding these creatures on a lake of red red colour, living in such arid and harsh environment, I like to think that I've reached some mythological place, far from real Earth, a lake where these mythical creatures rule.