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Published: February 13th 2011
Travel agents in Bolivia have a tendancy to promise the earth while delivering a very different reality. Our one request on our three day tour of Bolivia´s salt flats was for an English speaking guide. Not a problem we were assured.
Upon meeting our guide we found his English extended to "NO Inglasis". Luckily for us one of our fellow travellers could speak some Spanish and so became our translator. Upon pointing out that we had paid more for an English speaking guide we were greeted with - "This is not my problem, what do you think this is a beach holiday"? We had been put in our place and the atmosphere in the car was decidedly frosty. Tension mounted and we drove on in silence.
For safetys sake the cars drive in a convoy - I hoped additional people might ease tensions but it seems a difference of opinion between the Bolivian guide and a Parisian tourist had resulted in an even bigger fall out and the other car was on the verge of physical violence.
The salt flats provided some respite, their sheer beauty is breath taking and it could not help but put people in
a better mood. Imagine staring at what seems like a never ending landscape. It´s very similar to how movie makers tend to portray heaven.
After experiancing the majesty of the salt flats we headed towards our first nights accomodation. A good nights sleep could only help to improve the mood.
After four hours of driving it turned out that the guide had forgotten to book any accomodation. Unfortunately when we turned up to the village where we were supposed to stay their wasnt even a stable available for us. After half an hour of deliberation and the french tourist´s anger growing to new heights we ventured into the night.
Now travelling across a desert in the dark can be frightening, especially when one of the cars gets bogged fast into the sand. Panic reigned and all sorts of scenarios were dreamt up. Eventually we escaped the bog and found somewhere to lay our heads at around 11pm at which point we fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion.
With such an eventful first day nothing could phase us on day two and day three and we had a thoroughly enjoyable time seeing the lagunas which range in
colour from red to white, green and blue. We watched the flocks of flamingoes while taking a dip in the hot springs and even did something I didn´t think possible - walked on the surface of a volcano. Definately a tour to remember!
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