Reed boat on Lake Titicaca
After seeing the last sailboats on the water in the small town of Taltal on the Chilean Pacific coast in the middle of the desert, we turn the bow of our Toyata to the east, towards the mountains. You don't have to drive far here to reach the 3500 meter altitude limit, because the Andes begin in South America directly at the sea.
The air is getting thinner and drier, a challenge for us sea nomads, who usually have a fresh, salty breeze blowing around their noses, Labello and sea water nasal spray become our new, constant companions, always close at hand in their pockets.
Some sights can only be found in the mountains, Machu Picchu, the city of Cuzco with the Valle Sagrado and the Colca valley, where the condors reliably make their laps over a 2000 meter deep gorge every morning in the updraft. We learn that small children can adapt to the mountain air and the lack of oxygen much faster than we adults, that potatoes have to cook for an hour at an altitude of 3500 meters, and that it is absolutely impossible to cook pastal dente yourself when you spend huge sums on imported goods.
Sailing on Lake Titicaca
Only the sea is far away, it doesn't matter, there are substitutes in the form of lakes. Two extraordinary specimens lie just below the clouds, Lake Titicaca and the Salar de Uyuni. A sea in two parts, so to speak, one made of water and the other made entirely of salt.
At Lago Titicaca, the lake of the puma rock, as the name translates, time seems to have stood still. Drought oxen pull heavy plows over the cleared fields, the colorfully dressed Indian women in their heavy skirts and waist-length braids sow quinoa, amaranth and corn or spin alpaca wool while running while they drive herds of sheep or llama over the dry Altiplano.
The once common reed boats are only built for tourist purposes, but sailing on the highest commercially navigable body of water is still a long way from modern yachts. The fishermen make small Lancias out of wood, without a keel, with an outboard motor, oars or sails, there are passenger ferries to Isldel Sol and adventurous motorized wooden rafts that transport trucks weighing several tons across the narrow sea and are called "Titanic", which inspire confidence.
Especially on the southern part of the lake, the LagunHuaynamarca, in the afternoon, when the wind picks up, you can see the colorful dots of the latin sails in front of the silhouette of the snow-capped mountains, a few freshly caught trout on board, a family on the way home or building materials from Mainland for the hut on the island. Our children are more interested in the pedal boats, which can be rented out by the hour in the shape of swans, ducks or kites. Fortunately, we are in the Temporadbaja, the low season, and all the plastic animals are resting on the beach.
On the way to LPaz, the secret capital of Bolivia, a sign on the roadside catches our eye: Club Nautico Boliviano - El club mas alto del mundo, the highest yacht club in the world. Lets go. But the club is closed, of course, so in the middle of the week outside the holiday season there is no time to sail. But a few phone calls and five days later we come to our sailing experience at an altitude of 4000 meters, Luis, the club's commodore, invites us to family sailing Sunday on his Hunter 31.
The Marineros have already taken care of everything when you arrive at the club around noon, the Hunter is lying on the dock with the engine running, and while we are loosening the lines, the food order for the restaurant in the club is quickly placed.
Photo gallery: Lake Titicaca and Salt Lake
Luis is beaming with joy, because today, of all times, when he has real ocean sailors as guests, there is also a strong breeze blowing up here. His wife Claudia, who is serving nibbles from the galley, seems less happy about the sudden incline, but no one can take that into account now. We cross the lake for two hours, then it's back to the club; the food is waiting. The fresh trout tastes like it can only taste after a day on the water. A little bit of air in the sails is good - but also makes you feel homesick for our "Lady".
On the last kilometer in the Andes, our Toyot Mr. Beuger can really show what he's capable of. Instead of walking on the decrepit planks of a car ferry, he should finally be able to cross a lake on his own wheels, a salt lake, the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. In summer the water is impassable, even with four-wheel drive, but now, at the end of the dry season, the salt lake has developed into a salt runway, over 10,000 square kilometers of solid crust, on which Mr. Beuger glides at top speed.
The sky is blue as it couldn't be bluer, the lake is white. So know that you have to close your eyes without sunglasses, the horizon flickers, the mountains on the other side of the lake seem to be floating. Strangely enough, there is a small island overgrown with centuries-old cacti in the middle of the salt lake. We land with Mr. Beuger in a small bay and leave him on the beach like our dinghy. It's crazy, this view from the summit of the island on its coast, the salt crystals have formed a small wave of waves as they evaporated. If you blink a little, you could almost think you are on an island in the southern Caribbean.
We know from years of experience that steel, salt and water are not a good combination, and so our Mr. Beuger gets a proper engine wash in Antofagast after the many kilometers of salt piste, and we get a particularly long hot shower. Antofagasta, the second largest city in Chile, back on the Pacific and at sea level. We effortlessly climb stairs again without breathing, enjoying the screaming of the seagulls at sunrise and the smell of the sea in our noses. There are still 2300 kilometers of asphalt road between us and our "Lady", a look at the weather report clearly shows spring, temperatures are rising, and the rainy days have also decreased. Time to return home and get the "lady" ready for the next season, because a two-hour all-round wash is not enough there!