ROUND AND ABOUT THE INCA COUNTRY
 WE start from Antofagasta to make our second trip across the Andes by train. The route is
strikingly different from the last one we traversed, for the Trans-Andine line between
Argentina and Chile climbs and drops between mountains as though ascending and descending
the steep sides of a triangle, whereas that between Chile and Bolivia makes a steep ascent
and then crosses a tableland.
A train de luxe leaves the Chilean terminus at night, and, passing through an important
nitrate district, does half its climb whilst we are sleeping in comfortable beds. At five
o'clock in the morning the express makes its first stop at Calama, and we look forth upon
a panorama of mountains with magnificent snow-capped peaks.
Calama was a copper-mining centre in the time of the Incas; the mines are still rich
enough to have called into existence a modern smelting establishment, whose power supply
is furnished by the neighbouring River Loa.
A few miles farther on we pass the junction whence a short branch line runs up to the
copper mines at Chuquicamata. Proceeding to Conchi, we come upon a masterpiece of
engineering, the Loa Viaduct; in crossing the viaduct, our train is nearly 10,000 feet
 above sea-level, whilst its height above the surface of the Loa River is more than twice
that at which trains are carried over the Firth of Forth via the Forth Bridge. From Conchi
a branch line leads to some more famous copper mines, at Conchi Viejo. We are nearly two
hundred miles on our way when we reach San Pedro, where are situated the reservoirs which
supply Antofagasta with pure snow-water from the Andes. Just beyond San Pedro station the
railway skirts the bases of the snow-capped, smoking volcanoes of "San Pedro "and "San
Pablo," and cuts through a lava-bed that is nearly a third of a mile wide. The summit of
the main railway line is reached at Ascotan, 223 miles from Antofagasta and 13,000 feet
above the sea.
We are dropped a few hundred feet between Ascotan and Cebollar, where the train runs
alongside the lake which furnishes a large proportion of the world's supply of borax.
We are close to Ollague when we make our first acquaintance with llamas; a number of these
very graceful-looking beasts of burden are having packs balanced across their backs in a
farmyard. Llamas are used for the transport of silver, tin, fruit, vegetables, bales of
cloth—and, indeed, of everything that is found, grown, or made in and near Bolivia.
Each animal carries a weight of 100 pounds.
Also, we are beginning to make the acquaintance of Inca Indians, and to see that they have
 good and useful qualities from their famous ancestors. By patience and painstaking, and
with the help only of primitive agricultural implements such as were used by their
forefathers, the present-day natives have dotted the desert with productive fields. They
raise good crops of many kinds of cereals, fruit, and vegetables. They shepherd large
herds of llamas. They make the material for their clothes from the wool of the tame llamas
and of the wild vicunas and alpacas.
Just beyond Ollague station we cross the boundary between Chile and Bolivia, then onwards
for more than 300 miles the line runs along a tableland that is between 12,000 and 13,000
feet above sea-level. From Rio Mulato station, situated on this tableland, a branch line
goes to the ancient city of Potosi, famous for its silver mines.
Near Viacha, the junction with the line to Lake Titicaca, we get our first view of the
magnificent peak of Illimani, the "Fujiyama "of South America. A short run brings us to
the Alto station, whence our train is taken down to La Paz by the aid of an electric
The sudden appearance of a big city makes us feel that we are in an enchanted land. I
wonder, how would you try to help friends at home to picture the marvellous situation of
the highest capital city in the world? This is the only way I can suggest: Ask them to
imagine that for seventeen hours they have been hauled by train up a steep incline to the
top of a very
 high and large table, and that they have spent twenty-eight hours more on a railway going
across the table, when suddenly they find themselves looking down into a shallow bowl,
such as might be let into a giants' smoking-table to serve as an ash-tray; in the hollow
of that bowl, and at a height of nearly 12,000 feet above the sea, they behold a fine
city, with farm-houses and fields spreading upwards to the rim, whilst behind the
surprise-bowl rises a magnificent amphitheatre of mountains, from amongst which one
snow-capped peak, Illimani, towers to a height of 21,182 feet.
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