Published: June 25th 2012June 17th 2012
No Photoshop Required
These were the colours we could see.
So after a bit of umming and ahhing we decided we would pay the little bit extra and go for the tourist bus, which we decided had a better chance of open toilets. This was a night bus but only semi Cama here. ..... Welcome to Bolivia!!!!
And as we mentioned there was some protests going on in La Paz which as we boarded the bus at 8:30pm ready for our 9pm departure we were told this was the miners and there may be chance that's they could of blockaded the road to Uyuni, but not to worry the driver new alternatives. So off we went and after 2 hours sure enough the road was blocked leaving us with a cross country route which resembled more of a farm track rather than a road and that's being kind. So after 5 hours we were pleased to hit the main road, but this only lasted an hour before the dirt road took over. So instead of a 10 hour ride we finally got to Uyuni after 16 hours well ready for a lie down. Still no time for this ....main priority was to book the Salt Flat tour for the following
Mountain Climbing Again
Salt mountains drying out in the sun
day, as even after one minute in Uyuni, you have an overwhelming desire, to get out of there.... And fast....
There were no shortage of takers for our money but we met, who we thought was a nice women named Fatima from Wera Altiplano tours who told us she had one going tomorrow and had another English couple booked to go who had very good Spanish which was a bonus as we didn't fancy the extra $30 each for a English Driver, so with the tour booked we got some late lunch, bought some snacks and headed to bed for a good nights sleep.
After a piping hot shower and a toasty nights kip we headed out for our 10:30am Salt Flats departure.....we were a bit concerned by 11am when most of the trucks from outside the tour agents were pulling away, and we still had no truck. Not to worry though 5 minutes later a truck pulled up with 4 people aboard saving us the last 2 seats (the back two with no leg room). We recognised one of the guys from our boat trip to Isla del Sol, a Danish guy called Soren who we had
One of the highlights of our trip through Bolivia
chatted to, the other 3 to make up the group were from France. The other English Couple were nowhere to be seen...., well here's the thing, if you bump into Fatima she will no doubt ask you where you are from and will no doubt tell you there are more of you booked on for tomorrow or whenever you want to go! Suckers! It turned out that Soren had been told there was another Danish guy booked on and the French 3 had been told there were three other French people also booked on! She's quite the saleswoman!
Anyway with our introductions made we headed off to the first stop the Train Cemetery, a semi interesting pile of scrap metal, which if back in England the Gypsys would have nicked and cashed in for scrap years ago. Still it made for some good pictures if nothing else. So after 15 minutes there, which was in actual fact 40 due to the driver disappearing off for half an hour, we were back in the truck to the main event the Salt Flats.
The Salar de Uyuni is the largest Salt Flats in the world, and I heard one guide
This place in the rains must be something else, a perfect mirror throughout.
saying it is the equivalent size of Northern Ireland. It's a different landscape to any other we have seen on this Earth a blinding white plain of nothingness made all the better for the beautifully contrasting blue Sky. First stop was to see the mini mountains of salt, this is how they start the process of harvesting the salt, piling it up in mounds to allow it to dry and harden before shovelling it into bags or into wagons for sale. After a walk round here and plenty of photos it was back in the truck, as it's referred to, which I should explain is 4x4 Toyota Landcruiser. We took a ride then to our next stop Fish Island which wasn't fish island but another very similar rock in the middle of the salt ocean covered with some amazing cactus. After a walk round on here we sat down for lunch before heading off again to find our spot for some perspective photos. Now if you've seen any blogs or pictures you will know what I'm talking about, basically it involves using lots of props to create odd picture like people being chased by a toy dinosaur. Well we were
The Red Lake
We didn't expect it to be this red.
at a bit of a loss as to how these pictures worked so after a few attempts we asked the advice of our guide, who was his usual chatty self and said "you need props"...... So if you're looking for great prospective pics.... This is not the blog!!!!! Anyway, after our solo efforts as a group of getting the pics, our guide of little words sped us of to our accommodation for the evening..... A legal salt hotel..... I say that because in the middle of the salt flats is a hotel built of salt that you stop off at that's no longer a hotel but a museum ... Ceased trading as it shouldn't have been built as the salt flats are a world heritage sight ..... Now when you pull up at these Salt Hotels on the edge of the salt flats, your first impression, is I really don't want to get out and go in there.... They really do look rough..... However, appearances can be deceptive as inside they are really cosy.... We even got our own double room!!!! With 3 fluffy blankets and had a surprising lovely nights sleeps after we'd watched the most amazing sky at
sunset followed by more stars than I think we'd ever seen and loads of splashes of the milky way!!! Added bonus came from one of the French lads who did some juggling with fire..... Compared to the horror stories we'd been fed, not half bad!
On the road again for day two and I swear you can feel the temperature dropping as the kilometres pass! Really scenic day with loads of volcanos and rocks.... We even saw some sort of cross country race going on... Now that takes some fitness.... Middle of nowhere, running at altitude and sub zero temps.... Rather them than us!!!!! We'll elaborate on 'loads of volcanos and rocks'..... We drove the whole morning through plains of dessert with volcanos everywhere... You could even see smoke coming out of one of the bad boys!!! El Desierto de Dali and Arbil de Piedra are spooky rock fields, god knows how it's there, there's nothing else around it and just these mental looking rock formations, which make for some great pics! The afternoon was all about lakes and flamingos (3 types....Chiliano, Andino and James). The first lake that we visited, gave us an idea how the salt flats
Get ready to run
The smoke was still coming out of this volcano.
came about as it was a stunning lake, which with the winter dry season was evidently shirking, leaving the white residue of soggy salt in its wake!! The second was pitched for a natural wonder of the world and we could see why.... Wow was it beautiful.... Laguna Colorada..... Completely toxic but a stunner..... Just check out the pics! Onwards and unfortunately upwards..... As already mentioned the only downer to the day was the plummeting temp......
By the time we arrived at the hostel, which was little more than a mud block it was bitter cold and the night was unbearably cold, even by bunking in together and pooling the blankets.... Every piece of clothing was worn and we barely slept a wink....Even the fact that every tour stayed the night there creating .... Ooo, what must have been 50 people's body heat didn't really matter.....And the complementary red wine only made a degree of difference, minus 10 reduced to minus 9, not really noticeable!!!! In fact when we arrived at the hot pools the morning after, after chasing sunrise and being too frozen to stay outside and enjoy the 'Sol de manana' or Gueysers, it took their 40
Mother Nature does Sculpture
The rock tree formed by years of erosion by wind and sand.
degree temp of the Natural Thermal Pool to warm us up, which we were sceptical to go in as we were so so cold......Had it not been for the lovely brazilian's who we'd kept running into on our stops and who felt the cold more than we did, no way would we have stripped to bikinis and boxers at 7am and with a temp of -5!!!! Thankfully, this warmed us to the core and we enjoyed a good 30 mins defrosting!!!! Last stop Laguna Verde, which had frozen over and was as everything we'd come to experience.... Beautiful and Bitter Cold!!!!
All in all....another great trip, which cost less than £25 per day, all inclusive and with once in a lifetime scenery! Glad we did it, but honestly as we were waiting for an hour for a bus to pick us up from the border at 5000m, freezing.....leaving Bolivia could not come too soon, despite it's raw beauty.....
There are more photos below