If you want to feel like you’re walking through an alien landscape this place has to be top of the list. The thermal vents in the Ayuni Desert really are surreal. When we were there, other than our group, there wasn’t a sign of another soul anywhere.
The most amazing thing about these thermal vents was the total lack of barrier. Ten years on, I wonder if they’re still left completely open for people to wander between with no safety barriers whatsoever. I expect, and hope, they probably are.
If you look to the left, you’ll see a Welshman doing his best fall into boiling water.
This is another of my old pics shot with a tiny point and shoot. I’d love to go back here again. We were on our way to the Ayuni salt flats when steam appeared on the horizon. Before we knew it we were stepping out of our jeeps in front of gurgling, churning, stinky wasteland like nothing I’d ever seen. Then, our jeeps drove on, to pick us up on the other side. We were actually allowed to walk right through these geysers, not a safety barrier in sight. It was pretty amazing, but you definitively had to watch your step.
Normally I wouldn’t include people posing for a picture in one of my shots. But, as I mentioned in a previous post, taking photos of the kids in this village was great fun! Here you can see my travel companion Chris posing for a picture as Shannon teaches a couple of the kids how to use her camera. The sky was striking and I liked the opportunity to catch a picture of the kids having fun without actually having them pose for me!
This photo is only bracketed from -1 to +1. I had to shoot handheld because if I’d set up the tripod the kids would have flocked long before I was ready to take a shot. I also needed to use a small aperture to get the whole scene in focus. If I’d gone to +2 I never would have been able to get a sharp image.
We’d brought clothes to give as a gift and as thanks for allowing us to visit. We didn’t know that we were going to be visiting this village and had actually packed very light for the safari. It was a shame as Shannon had been carrying a lot of stuff to give away the whole trip (this eventually found a home in a Rwandan orphanage). Everyone managed to pull something out, including Soniko who offered up a brand new world cup rugby jersey. But, Soniko wanted to give this to someone personally and eventually gave it to the older kid in the blue sitting down in the middle of this picture. Being selected for Soniko’s prize possession made his day and he beamed a huge smile as he received the jersey.
On our way to visit this village we saw the mud bricks used to build this structure baking in the sun. We went inside one for a demonstration on how grain is ground into flour. They’re actually a very clever design. The wall around the perimeter does not meet the thatched roof allowing for the breeze to roll through. This cools the inside while allowing any smoke produced in cooking to be quickly ventilated. The doorway was tiny and involved a bit of a contortion to get through.