Salt Lakes & 4x4ing

Published: October 28th 2005
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The StartThe StartThe Start

This is the transport used for the 4 day trip around the southern part of Bolivia.
In the south of Bolivia there is a well known tour called the

The Solar Tour

. It consists of 4 days in a very old Toyota Land Cruiser touring around the south west corner of Bolivia.

Day 1

Consist of a 7 hour drive across the worlds highest and biggest salt lake. It is huge and very weird old inland sea. You get to stop of at a small island in the middle, which was previously a coral reef. And you can see a full 360 panoramic, at about 50 meters height, of most of the northern end of the lake, but it is so big you cannot see the southern end. As you drive along the edge of the lake you begin to notice that the edge is very much like many seascapes you get when diving and you begin to realise you really could be underwater, very strange to see complete underwater seascapes in the open air, just without the fish! That night you get to stay in a hotel made of salt blocks. The salt blocks are as hard as stone and are used just like bricks.

Day 2

This day starts at 5 am and
Rude PicRude PicRude Pic

For those with a dirty mind...
is spent traversing into the southern deserts of Bolivia. The drive continues through some of the most arid, bleak and beautiful views we have ever had the fortune to see. There are dozens of volcanoes, lakes, mountains, huge lava flows, weird wind eroded rock/lava formations and even a little wildlife. Especially prevalent are the different species of flamingos, each lake seemed to consist of a different coloured species. We believe that this is due to the different minerals content and acidity of these remote lakes, there were thousands on one of the lakes. After another long day we started to understand why all the transport was using 4x4 jeeps. Although even in the depths of the desert you still see the odd Coach or Bus bouncing its way through the terrible roads. That night is spent at one of the highest and coldest spots in the whole trip. It was -6 that night, but it has been known to be -40 in July and August. Our guide told us that a Japanese tourist had lost his toes to frostbite earlier this year. You can imagine the girls had at least 8 layers each!

Day 3

Is another 5
The long white roadThe long white roadThe long white road

This route just keeps on going across the Salt Flats for about 8 hours. And that is just the top corner.
am start, of course with a little hangover. This day is spent heading to the border of Chilly and back up towards the start point again. First thing in the morning you come across a volcanically active area with boiling mud, gushing geysers and that terrible sulphur smell. It was really still very cold from the night before but the steam kept you warm. This area was very dangerous, as you could fall through the crust into a boiling cauldron of nasty stuff. One tourist had been badly burned the year before. You then finally head to the southern most part of the tour known as Lake Verde, were some people head off into Chile while the others turn around and head for home. The rest of the day is spent getting back towards the start point. We did get one more interesting stop in a place known as Valley of the Rocks, weird eroded lava flows which are great to climb around. One of the lava flows was so huge that we were driving along its perimeter for 5 hours, I would not liked to have seen that eruption! That night we stay at a small village and manage
Crusty SurfaceCrusty SurfaceCrusty Surface

This is dried out salt. After each rainy season these patterns change and move location across the vast expanse.
to teach our guide/driver/cook the fine rules of Shit Head!

Day 4

Is at last a lie in, this day is a simple 2 hour return trip to Uyuni. We do get to stop at another site know as the train cemetery. This site consists of about 200 old British steam trains that were used in Bolivia for years and then simply dumped here. We had a lot of fun scrambling around and some great pictures to be had.

That is it for the 4 day Solar tour and to be truthful probably the best $70 USD each we have ever spent.

Additional photos below
Photos: 25, Displayed: 24


Salt HotelSalt Hotel
Salt Hotel

This is the first (and best) nights accomodation. It is a hotel that is built completely from salt blocks.
Into the distanceInto the distance
Into the distance

This is a real live working railway line. The views must be spectacular.
Ka BoomKa Boom
Ka Boom

This is when you start to realise you are in an active volcanic region!
Dusty DevilsDusty Devils
Dusty Devils

These are always a real pleasure to encounter.
Flamingos 1Flamingos 1
Flamingos 1

Weird looking things.
Flamingos 2Flamingos 2
Flamingos 2

Great reflective surface!
Flamingo FlightFlamingo Flight
Flamingo Flight

Is this shot worthy of National Geographic? You tell me!
Human FlamingosHuman Flamingos
Human Flamingos

Not much more to say about this!
Mirror MirrorMirror Mirror
Mirror Mirror

This is just a really stunning shot!
The long desert roadThe long desert road
The long desert road

This road runs through the deserts of Bolivia and Chile. And yes it is a real road with buses and all.
Stoned TreesStoned Trees
Stoned Trees

No that was not a typo! Cool eroded rock formation.
The Red LakeThe Red Lake
The Red Lake

This is the crew, at Lake Colorada, that travelled for the 4 day trip
Freezing ColdFreezing Cold
Freezing Cold

We are trying to have a game of cards, but it was so cold we needed to snuggle into the sleeping bags.
Steaming GeysersSteaming Geysers
Steaming Geysers

Is this another Nat Geo pic or what? Comments always welcome.
Hot StuffHot Stuff
Hot Stuff

If you fall through the crust around these hot spots you get cooked alive! There have been reports of people killed here!
Steamy WindowsSteamy Windows
Steamy Windows

kind of. This is a very powerful geyser that made so much noise that it was hard to hear someone talking right next to you.
Chilean BorderChilean Border
Chilean Border

This volcano is half in Bolivia and half in Chile near Lake Verde (Green Lake). It was blowing a gale and freezing cold so the girls stayed in the jeep!
Rock ValleyRock Valley
Rock Valley

Really cool valley full of wind eroded lava flows. SJ chilling on the left.
Larkin About 1Larkin About 1
Larkin About 1

Just havin fun at the top of a great view point.
Dead TrainsDead Trains
Dead Trains

SJ playing in the belly of an old steam train.
Larkin About 2Larkin About 2
Larkin About 2

Just havin fun in a steam train cemetary. There is about 200 old english steam trains just rusting away in the desert.

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