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Published: August 12th 2018
Here were are, day 3 and actually four of this amazing little trip. As you can guess, since our trip to Uyuni, we have down some solid wine on the way...but what a trip in Uyuni.
This is were Cordillera agency guides made a solid difference. Our guide isn't much talkative, so more than once, we share information between ourselves without him being involved, but today, at least, the guides will make the difference, they are turning into top solid photographers!
Last trip...it's was more like figure it out yourself. We had crossed the Salar de Uyuni in Winter too...but no sunrise or sunset in sight. Today is different. The guide gave us a choice to depart the Salt Hostal at 5 am or 7am. Obvious choice, a guide doesn't choose on purpose to wake up early. We were going to have sunrise on top of Isla Incahuasi! Driving to the Isla just pre-sunrise is already something... around 20 to 30 cars were on the same mission as us...all at once!
The Salar de Uyuni is at 3500 meters altitude.....which is great news for Tanya. I believe her head doesn't fancy at
all anything above 4000 meters! We made it to the ticket booth some 20 minutes ahead of sunrise. Due the the "brightening effect" of the salt, 20 minutes before the sunrise, this place feels already as in full day light!
Up at the summit of Isla Incahuasi, after a 15 minutes easy hike, there is cat and maybe 100 tourists. This is going to be one of my most impressive sunrise ever! The cacti are all over, the salt too, and suddenly the sun rise on this impossible place on earth. Simply magic!
We spent here a good hour before going down to another nice breakfast...on salt tables and chairs!!
Next, is the long drive East. Bear in mind, today we will drive some 170km on the Salar! The Salar de Uyuni is simply the biggest salar on earth! Today is a special day. If you come here in December and January, it is summer. At that time of the year, you take the risk of grey skies and some rain. It doesn't rain much here, it is actually one of the drier place on earth. But when the rain pour
on the Salar, it has no where to go...therefore a small layer of water, just few centimeters, form on the central part of the salar. This makes some part of the Salar dangerous to drive. But it also render this mirror effect so famous to keen photographers.
Well, we didn't have rain, but snow, once it's melt with a 12 degrees during day time has exactly the same effect. So yes, we lost the Geysers...but we got some water on the Salar, and this experience is just out of this world!
Cordillera guides...you rock. At some point, the main driver/guide stopped in the middle of nowhere...and he turn into the official photographer. You can spend time guessing by yourself how to do this pics...I did! But what an experience when you have somebody in the know. Actually, this is better for them...stop one hour, have your guests happy with lifetime pictures...and go! Simple!
So enjoy the pics, we did with the experience.
Next stop would be the former first Salt Hostal. They know here that they cannot cope with thousands of unruly travelers. So they have taken steps
to keep the place as clean as possible. The hostal is gone. But what I truly appreciate...gone is the time, all over the area, were you could "free yourself of your needs". They have built serious toilets all over the itinerary. Yes, they do charge 80 cents usd per visit. And there is no more "do what ever you want 50 meters from there"....but the toilets are all nice, clean and seriously well maintained. Great local job! Nothing is going in the ground with this cold and the desert...this is not the Amazon! Keep the good job Bolivia!
Next, the stop at the Paris-Dakar monument...let's not talk about this here...and we are on our way to Uyuni! Last stop is the train cemetery. Place is worldwide known...love the place, don't like the graffiti! Most will stop here and head North to La Paz or to Potosi. We have our transfer back to the Chilean border.
Snow is still all around in altitude next to San Pedro. So we would be back to Ollargue border crossing. Before this, our last night is in Kulpina. Not much to write about the place, if it is that
without the snow, they would not see any tourist. Great luxury tonight...private bed, an old carpet...and our own bathroom with lukewarm shower. Much appreciated!
Next morning, it's the same border crossing as three days before. Goods news, we are dropped at Calama airport and don't need to make our way back to San Pedro first.
We will be back here...in 10 years...this time with the geysers stop!
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