A Higher Plain: The Bolivian Altiplano

Travelling across the surreal landscapes of Bolivian Altiplano, one photographer is in awe of the otherworldly landscapes and intense energy

Towards the end of a year spent in Argentina, I decided to visit one more place in South America before journeying on to the UK. I picked Bolivia.

Travelling from Mendoza by bus, the landscape noticeably changes as I cross Argentina's northern states. The earth becomes red and cacti are more abundant. A little beyond Tupiza, the first town after the Bolivian border, the Andes rise into the sky. I see few roads and no settlements bigger than a few dozen houses. There are no trees, just shrubs. Besides llamas and rare flamingos, I witness barely any animals.

Travelling by Jeep - one driver, one cook, four passengers - I become dizzy from the altitude. We pass snow-capped volcanoes, surreal rock formations, emerald fields of moss, ruined settlements, ethereal lagoons and sulphuric rock pools. The sun is strong, but the temperature is cold. After dusk the chill becomes unbearable.

Having spent four days in this surreal environment, I arrive at the Salar de Uyuni, a salt flat near the crest of the Andes that's so large that I lose any sense of dimensions and distance. It's a whiteout.

Travelling across the Bolivian Altiplano, I get a sense that there is more to this existence than what we make of it. There is something bigger at hand, something that one cannot grasp with words or the intellect. I was in awe of this strange energy on top of the world. If you ever travel to the high plains of the Andes, I hope you will too.

@larsstephanista | larsstephan.com

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