Published: December 21st 2010November 29th 2010
This was an incredible trip, full of the most surreal landscapes and rock formations! At the very least hopefully you'll look at the pictures ... :o) Sat 27 Nov – The Bus Ride From Hell ...
Thought we'd try an overnight bus as this seemed the easiest way of getting to Uyuni where the Salt Flats tour starts and buses here tend to be very comfortable with seats that fold far back, films and airline quality food.
Got on the bus at 9pm for our 10 hour journey, 5 hours on a paved road and 5 hours on gravel tracks. We immediately realised that this was not the best bus. Even on the paved road it was shaking and the whole thing rattled. The air blower above our seats didn't work and they didn't seem able to turn down the heating. The DVD player didn't work, so no films. We didn't even have seatbelts.
Every bus journey so far has taken one hour longer than they said, so this turned into an 11 hour journey from hell.
We managed to get a bit of sleep in the first part but as soon as we left
the paved road it was like being in an earthquake or in a washing machine. It shook you to your core ... for 6 hours We've never experienced anything like it - and never want to again. Nothing stayed in place. When everyone woke up (I'm sure no one slept), peoples belongings were scattered all around the bus - water bottles, shoes, bags, etc.
We would NOT recommend Todo Turismo bus company. Sun 28 Nov – ... To Hell - Uyuni
Arrived at Uyuni at 8am, very tired and very dusty. We looked like real backpackers now. Uyuni is a town in the middle of the desert with wide streets, dust, rubbish and stray dogs everywhere. It was not what we imagined – it was desolate and so HOT !
Our guide for the Salt Flats tour starting tomorrow was there to meet us. He took us to our B&B – that was a relief.
Our B&B - La Petite Porte – was not much to look at from the street. It is a mud brick brown building like all the others but once inside it was a lovely little (only 2 rooms) haven away
from the hell hole that is Uyuni.
Caught up on sleep, then got passports stamped for leaving Bolivia in 3 days time.
Met up with Max and Lucy, a Swiss couple that we met on the Lake Titicaca trip. They were planning to do the Salt Flats trip on exactly the same dates and route as us so we all agreed to join up. 4 people is a good number for the trip as you're not too crowded in the land rover. We all also agreed that we wanted to pay a bit more and stay in proper hotels along the way. Otherwise you end up sleeping in what can only be described as sheds, many of which have no heating and some don't even have all the glass in the windows ! And it's COLD out here at night.
Big thanks to them for organising it.
If anyone is reading this who's thinking of doing the trip ... We used a company called Lago Minchin and it was booked in La Paz in the travel agents in Thejust Incas Room Hotel. It cost just over US$300. We opted not to have an English speaking guide
as this would have been a lot more expensive. And anyway ... we had Lucy to translate for us. Mon 29 Nov – Salar de Uyuni
Day 1 of our 3 day trip
The desert all around Uyuni is absolutely covered in plastic bags – disgusting.
Our first stop was the antique train cemetery just outside town. A perfect setting for a collection of forgotten, rusted trains ... And quite photogenic.
Then onto Colchani and a little presentation on how the salt is processed and bagged for human consumption. Nearly everything is made of salt out here - the houses are made with salt bricks, furniture is made of salt blocks... souvenirs made of salt.
The Salar de Uyuni is amazing ! They are the biggest salt flats in the world. They're difficult to describe, they look like a huge frozen sea with islands and volcanoes rising from them in the distance. There is a strange optical effect that makes many of the islands appear to be floating above the surface. And once again the clouds seem really low as we are really high. It's surreal.
This place is HUGE. As everywhere
is white, there is no perspective so you can have fun with photos. (There's a couple more in the next blog)
Stopped at Coquesa town on Tunupa island for lunch. Sat at a salt table on salt chairs.
Went part way up Tunupa volcano to see some mummies, our itinerary said we would hike but luckily we went up in the land rover. We have got used to the altitude in that we no longer feel sick but at 3,656m (12,000 ft) asl walking up hill is still not easy. Incredible views of the salar from up here.
Our first 'salt' hotel is Tayka Tahua. It is made of salt bricks and once again we ate at a salt table sitting on salt seats.
We thought the sunset on Lake Titicaca was good but the one tonight was probably the best sunset we have ever seen. (The photos have not been doctored in any way). The stars at night were impressive too.
Can't wait for tomorrow...
There are more photos below