Day 91/164: Conquenca to Isla Incahuasai – 38km

In the morning it is hard to believe it is the same place, as there is not a breath of wind anywhere and bright blue skies. We have a later start at 7am for breakfast, as a short ride today so the sun was out already with the day warming up by breakfast.

The ride is only 39 kilometres from the side of the salt flats to an Island we are staying on in the middle, called Isla Incahuasai.

Unfortunately I am in the lunch truck again as I have been constantly coughing and wheezy all night. I am disappointed not to be riding on the salt flats but there is another day riding on the salt flats tomorrow. The wind seems to kick in each day about midday so if I ride tomorrow I should be able to ride on the salt flats without the wind.

At the camp just before we are leaving a herd of about two hundred alpaca are let out of their night enclosure and wandering down to  the vegetation (would hesitate to say grass) in front of the camp and start happily munching. There are also a flock of flamingo at the edge of the salt lake, all very picturesque and difficult to believe this idyllic looking setting is the same windswept bleak cold camp of the night before.

Alpaca in their enclosure for the night

Alpaca in their enclosure for the night

Alpacca on the shore

Alpacca on the shore

There is gastro going around the riders again with about 12 riders currently affected. Halfway to the island we have to turn back to pick up Rolf and Sue who have got it again. Thankfully I am now day 2 without.

I am meticulous about hand washing so am sure I am not passing it around. I think our dish washing facilities need to be looked at. We don’t have running water to wash our dishes, and we have 3 oblong trays of water: one with soapy water, one to rinse, and one with water and bleach. However it is normally cold and does not get changed during a meal period, so once 40 plus rider’s dishes have gone through, and staff, it is pretty disgusting.

The salt flats are amazing, they stretch as far as the eye can see. It looks like a great big sea of ice.

The island is a spot that is very popular as a stopping point for tourists. There must be about 500 a day to the island. At $10 Boliviano to use the toilet they must be high return toilets. Thankfully they are clean and have paper.

We get to the Island at about 11am but due to the number of tourists visiting and it is a small island we are not allowed to put up our tents until 530pm! There is no wifi, and the island takes half an hour to walk around!  Then there is nothing else to do.

There are lots of cacti again, some up to 3 meters tall. From the top of the island is a good view of the salt stretching off in all directions.

The island on the Bolivian salt flats (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

The island on the Bolivian salt flats (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Luckily there are some limited room options and I manage to be at the right place at the right time and get one. Very basic with a cotton mattress on a concrete frame, dirt floor, and cardboard where the window pane was. However it means that rather than spending the next 6 hours waiting to put my tent up I can have an afternoon nap.

Sharing a table at lunch, at the salt tables, just before the winds picked up! (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Sharing a table at lunch, at the salt tables, just before the winds picked up! (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

The wind once again picks up at midday and there is a howling gale by dinner time. The TDA staff have cooked in a small cave like an enclosure. It is really cold, thankfully we are able to sit in the hotel restaurant to eat. That is until there is a disagreement between the bar manager and one of the riders, about whether he has paid for a beer or not. We know he did as we saw him pay, but he bar manager loses the plot and decides no one else can come into the restaurant and shuts the bar down!

It is freezing and I am pleased to have an inside room, but each time I need to go to the toilet I have to go out into the cold. My asthma is getting worse and I am getting concerned. I end up using my reliever about 15 times during the night. At 4am I decide I need to start the prednisone. Overall I think I would have had about 30 minutes of sleep. Things always seem worse in the dark and I am pleased when it gets light.

The island on the Bolivian salt flats (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

The island on the Bolivian salt flats (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Bolivia, South American Epic | Leave a comment

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