Published: September 14th 2012September 14th 2012
I stayed in Laz for a few days after my attempt at the mountain, I was feeling rubbish so took a few days to recover which was not possible at altitude . I saw a few of the sights of La Paz and did some shopping as Bolivia was sooooo cheap - just a shame I don't have a bigger bag.
I decided to treat myself and fly to Uyuni which is where my salt flats tour began, flaights in South America are expensive so was a little bad but I couldn't face a 20 hour bus journey. After walking along the runway and other planes getting re fuelled and ready to take off (H&S is very different out here) we boarded the plane. The 45 minute flight was good with amazing view of the baron and vast Bolivian landscape. I arrived at a half finished airport (well a 3 roomed building they called the airport) collected my bag and was taken to the office to meet the other people on my tour and set off. I had an excellent group, 2 guys from Scotland and a couple from the US/Oz. The guy from the US spoke good spanish so was able to translate the driver/guides comments.
We set off on the tour and saw the train cemetery the old railway that link Bolivia to Chile but was closed and now the trains have rusted in the harsh conditions. From there we drove to the salt flats it was amazing, as far as you could see was white surrounded in the distance by many different mountains. the sky was clear and bright so the reflection of the sun was strong. We drove around the salt flats learning that some of the locals dry out the salt to sell so there where lots of mounts dotted around the beginning. We drove to the salt hotel - a building made from the salt and had lunch. After lunch we drove to La Isla del Pescado (Fish Island) located on the salt flat and full of giant cactuses and is named this way as the ´island´ has the shape of a fish. We walk around the island and then headed to the hostel we where staying. The landscape is so baron it suprises me that people live there but I guess the tourist need somewhere to stay so small towns have grown as the popularity of the tours have increased.
We got up and set off for 7am, heading towards the lagoons chain of Cañapa, Hedionda, Chiarkota, Honda and Ramaditas, where there was the three kinds of flamingos. We got to the first lagoon at lunch time where we watched the small number of birds eat and fly. We also had a mice join us for lunch trying to eat our food before we left a pile of pasta for it away from out seat (well the rocks). The next 2 lakes were much bigger and filled with flamingos, they are beauitful birds but the smell of the birds/lake put you off staying for too long. After the last lagoon, we entered the huge and great desert area with no roads or ways. These fantastic deserts gather all the colors from browns, reds, oranges, brass, coffee and beige. The landscape varies and they is always a beautiful view to be seen for all angles. We visited the Stone Tree and see Yaretas and Vizcachas (wild desert rabbits) due to the wind and the sand the rocks have taken on different formations. We spent the night at 4,300m which meant the hostel was cold but as all 5 of us where in the same room it wasn't to bad. We had dinner and then spent the evening telling jokes before getting up at 5am the next morning.
We started the day early (it was still dark!) to see the desert under the lights of the sunset and arrive to the Geysers of Sol de mañana during the most active moment and with the first ray of lights. This was the highest point of the tour at 5000m the cold was intense. We walked among the smoky and noisy geysers not getting to close due to the heat and the strong smell. We then drove a short while to Salar of Chalviri where we quickly got into our swimwear and ran into the Hot Springs of Polques. The water was amazing so hot, we where the only ones in the water for about 20 mins so was very relaxing. We spent about 45 mins here and then had breakfast. Afterwards we wnet to La Laguna Colorada which is red in colour, this comes from the effect of the solar radiations and wind on the algae and plankton. It was strange to see but looked beautiful.
I was crossing over into Chile so I said bye to the group stamped out of Bolivia and got taken over the boarder to San Perdro de Atacama.