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The pristine isolation of the Bolivian Altiplano

Bolivia's famed Salar de Uyuni.   Photo: Katsuyoshi Tanaka

Bolivia's famed Salar de Uyuni.   Photo: Katsuyoshi Tanaka

To visit the Bolivian Altiplano is to step into a surreal world of startling landscapes, an improbable place where life survives at high altitude (12,000 ft.) and little rain falls.  Native settlements whose cultures remain largely untouched by modern civilization, have existed for thousands of years. 

Crossing the Atacama.  Photo: Katsuyoshi Tanaka

Crossing the Atacama.  Photo: Katsuyoshi Tanaka

It’s a journey that starts from Chile’s Atacama Desert and rises to Bolivia’s High Altiplano where you may hike along high altitude trails in splendid isolation. You travel in vehicles designed for the rugged terrain led by expert guides trained in wilderness survival.  A variety of accommodations in this remote region range from converted shipping containers to abandoned stone encampments, each meticulously refurbished and custom furnished to exacting standards. 

Daily walks and excursions include flamingo-filled lagoons, geothermal fields of geysers and expansive salt pans. You’ll bear witness to the sheer tenacity of nature to survive in the most unlikely of environments, discover hidden wetlands surrounded by a sea of desert, and encounter villages and settlements where traditions have altered little over the centuries.

Having fun with perspective.  Photo: Deborah Hayman

Having fun with perspective.  Photo: Deborah Hayman

The highlight of this expedition is the famed Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, covering 4,000 square miles (100 times greater than the Bonneville Salt flat of Utah) and located at an altitude of 12,000 feet above sea level.  Deborah Hayman, INCA’s Director of Operations visited Uyuni in April 2015. “There’s a place in Bolivia leading up to the Salar de Uyuni called the Salvador Dali Desert” says Deborah.  “I think that name really sets the tone for what you can expect to see. The landscapes are surreal and fantastic. Everything seems to appear both large and small all at once. This is fitting since allowing guests to play with perspective is one of the things for which the Salar de Uyuni is most famous.”   

From the rarified air of the Salar, you return to Chile, cross the Atacama and continue to the Pacific Ocean, a journey spread over two days.  Along the route you see salt lakes dotted with gulls, ducks, geese, and sometimes you see vicuna.  You pass long-abandoned saltpeter mines, ultimately reaching the coastal seaport and fishing town of Iquique.  A restorative night is spent at sea level in a comfortable hotel before you fly back to Santiago for your journey home or onward adventures.  

Special Photographic Departure

Join celebrated New York based photographer and Latin American specialist Katsuyoshi Tanaka this November for a departure that will focus on photography. Designed for photographers of all skill levels, who are passionate about nature and adventure, this trip will focus on techniques for photographing both nature and landscapes.  This special departure will operate Nov 5 – 15, 2016.

Discover more about this unique expedition on our website, or call one of our knowledgeable staff to secure your spot.

Photographer Katsuyoshi Tanaka

Photographer Katsuyoshi Tanaka

About the Photographer

A native of Japan, Katsuyoshi Tanaka, relocated to New York in 1993. After working as an assistant for a National Geographic, he launched his freelance career in 1995. His work has been featured in magazines, books and exhibitions in the U.S., Japan, and around the globe.

Traveling extensively throughout South America, he documented traditional cultures and lifestyles of Inca descendants in Peru and of mixed races and cultures in Brazil. His work brought into focus social issues including school reform in the United States.

In recent years, his work has featured the performing arts working with dance companies and noted opera houses. He has held a series of photo exhibitions of the American Ballet Theatre in Tokyo, New York, and Alexandria, Virginia. He held an exhibit of Argentina Tango at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. in 2007 sponsored by American Red Cross.  In 2008, Tanaka was the official photographer for the Tokyo performances of Cirque du Soleil, Canadian based world-famous circus art group.

Tanaka started documenting Brazil in 2001 and has photographed people and nature throughout the country. In February 2011, he published the book, “BRAZIL – The Poetry of Diversity” with full sponsorship by Nikon Inc.

Fascinated by the grandeur of the landscape in Chile, his photographs of Patagonia, Atacama Desert, Easter Island and high plateaus in the Andes are breathtaking.  He has led photographic workshops in Easter Island and Patagonia and will share his talent on a photo expedition to the high altitude (12,000 ft.) Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. To view his work, visit his website: www.katsutanaka.com

 

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