Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Published: April 22nd 2012
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Before I begin this blog I would like to send my best wishes to Amanda Fraser, wife of friend and colleague Steve, who had a liver transplant on Easter Sunday. I know she reads my whitterings and musings and so from over here Amanda I wish you a very speedy recovery. I hope these photos bring a smile to your face. ( whatever colour it may be at the moment)

An incredible day.
Salar de Uyuni is the vast salt flats outside the town which bears its name.
So the night before. Arrived in Uyuni which is a shithole. Even the guide books describe it as such. First time I think I agree with them. It is a backpacker mecca purely for the salt flats otherwise no one in their right mind would come here.
We found a bar which had some incredible pictures of where we were heading. The difference is these were all perspective pictures. Some amazing photographs. It's a kind of a tradition to take this type of photo here as the landscape is perfect for it.
Kane, Lisa and myself chewed over some ideas around a beer and mohito drawing inspiration from the photos.
So up at the crack of sparrows to get to the flats before sunrise.
Driving out of the town, through the desert passing a few homes and then suddenly nothing. Nothing at all. Dawn was yet to break but the land was now white. A blank canvas of salt stretched out to the horizon, 10.582 square kilometres of it, 12 meters deep and 3.500 meters above sea level.the largest area if flat surface in the world. Small salt mounds littered the area where the salt is left to dry, like a thousand white traffic cones or dunces hats.
We charged though the dark and reached a building of salt blocks some 3 kms onto the flats. Behind us the sun was lighting the dawn sky, still not yet over the mountains.
Just stood in complete awe at nature at its most spectacular.
A white Emptiness. No life whatsoever.
And then the sun revealed itself from behind the mountains.
Pure white ground stretching to the horizon . It was difficult for the eye to process where the horizon ended such was the pure colour of the land on which I was stood. A empty space so vast that you could see the curviture of the earths surface. I am so glad I decided to travel here. To think I could have missed all this.
And then the fun began. Following us for the last two days has been another 4x4 from the same tour company. William and Xavier, two friends from France. Christophe and his wife Stephanie, also from France, and Nadia from Italy, all 5'2" of her.
We quickly set about shooting perspective photos. Xavier had bought a toy dinasaur, me a pack of playing cards and Zippo, Santiago a bottle of Tequila. I hope the photos do justice to our hard work and planning. It was great fun shooting them.
I wore my 360 degrees T shirt in honour of the band and because I could almost see 360 degrees around the horizon. Seemed quite apt
Having exhausted most of our camara batteries we headed for the village. A tour around one of the tiny factories where the salt is prepared for us to put on our food. each bag filled by hand.
The price for all this hard work. 14 bolivianas for 50kg, which in real money is around £1.20!
Each week the tiny factory, with its eight hard workers,
thought food last night was a bit too muchthought food last night was a bit too muchthought food last night was a bit too much

william the frenchman and me
including the owner,produces 5000kg of salt worth £120.
Makes you wonder doesn't it, in these austere times, when the news is constantly full of unions and others moaning about the rising cost of everything, these folks bag 5000kg of salt a week by hand for £120 between them.
I also made my second purchase on the tour (the first being a loolapooza T-shirt. I bought a poncho. Warm and of pure wool I loved it. It will served me well in Peru and beyond. I bartered with the stall owner, with Santiagos assistance and knocked him down to a tenner. Right result.
Leaving the salt flats, riding through the mini lakes in the 4x4 hopped out bare footed for one last photo. The water was warmish but boy was in uncomfortable underfoot. Won't be doing that little trick again in a hurry. come to think of it doubt I will pass this way again do am safe on that one.
So sat in hostel waiting for another 4x4 to take me back to San Pedro. It will take two days to get there. Thinking of staying one night in SP then head to Iquique for a few days on the coast, post my blogs and photos, and relax.

Loving your work, especially JM.

Disco out

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22nd April 2012

Thanks for message much appreciated Steve is being amazing hope all your travels continue to go well. Love Amanda x x

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