Hi Friends, family and bloggers,
We are embarking on the Salt flats 3- day tour (all in one blog).
So we woke up nice and warm in our room this morning, the little heater in the center of the room did its job and warmed everyone. We had to be a Thiago Tours office at 1030 to start our tour and meet our fellow companion’s.
We had a shower in the morning and there was a free breakfast of toast and cereal, which was nice and unexpected.
We were told we would be freezing most of the tour –day and night, so I went to the shop to purchase some gloves for £2 from a local shop. Classy llama ones!!!
We finished packing, went to the shop to get snacks for the trip and headed out.
Once we arrived at Thiago tours we met everyone and it seemed a good group of people, there were two Belgium guys Mike and Peter, one Argentinian girl called Mercedes and a Peruvian guy called Franz. We all loaded our bags onto
the top of our 4X4 and headed out to our first stop: the train graveyard.
Here we saw the old rusting trains from decades ago, we took some good photos and even found a swing here. These are the old trains that use to take the minerals from the mines to Chile.
We then proceed to Colchani and witnessed how the salt is processed before we arrive to the Salt Flats themselves and saw the “Ojos de Sal” where water bubbles up through the salt plains. We also stopped at where the salt has been placed in mounds ready to be transported.
We went to the original salt hotel (no longer used for guests) for lunch; here they had a big salt Dakar statue as the rally passes by here. We then visited Inca Huasi (Fish Island) to see the giant cacti and to see the great views of the salt flats all around. Only Peter and Franz and I went up, and the views were amazing, there is nothing on the horizon but salt. The pictures talk for themselves.
We spent the afternoon taking loads of crazy
pictures you can only do here as the white and endless horizon helps distort the pictures!!! Eventually the sunset came, which made the sky light up in the most amazing reds, purples and oranges.
We then headed to our salt hotel; luckily Vick and I had a double room so very happy!! We had a strange dinner: a nice starter of soup then a main of three different meats and chips and tomato, very like Lomo Salado, but not as good and cold. (Vick was not impressed- it was crappy meat mushed up with soggy chips she said).
Soon enough we headed to bed as it was so, so cold and nothing much else to do.
We had a 0630 wake up the next day as well so everyone was in bed early.
We had a breakfast of stale bread with jam or caramel spread, with tea or coffee, before heading off for a long day driving visiting lagoons.
We passed through the Chuguana desert area where the scenery included a number of extinct volcanoes plus the semi active Ollague.
We arrived at our first lagoon; they are all at high altitude, (around 3500-4500 meters above sea level) it was frozen over, however there were still 3 types of flamingos here: the black tipped tail ones are local (2 of these types) and the other type is pink tailed and is Chilean. After taking photos we headed off to the next lagoon.
We arrived at the next lagoon and found a lot more Flamingos here, hope the pictures do it justice. We had lunch here and had chicken breast and pasta it was really good. The view for lunch over the lagoon was amazing!!!
We then headed to one more lagoons; it was a salty lagoon with warm water and even more flamingos. I found a flamingo egg it was not as big as I thought it would be but we made sure it was secure and safe.
Next we had a long drive up to 5000m to see the desert of Siloli and the “tree of rock”, it was volcanic rock formed from rising up from the earth made even more bazaar with wind erosion. It was
good but not as impressive as the Devils Marbles.
Last stop of the day was the Red Lagoon, aka, Laguna Colorado. Here it is warm water again and is red due to iron content in the water. We did not take much time to look around this one as it was freezing, with an incredible wind chill. No one really wanted to get out of the 4X4 but Vick did bless her to get us photos of it!!!
We headed to the hotel for the night, we arrived first and put all our stuff in our dorm and then watched a film called “unfinished business” until everyone else arrived. (Film was really good).
To say it was cold is an understatement!! It got down to -20 degrees, we had tomato pasta for dinner and got a free bottle of wine with dinner, Peter brought another one, as it was Franz birthday so we had a drink with him.
As it was so cold Vick ended up in my single bed in full clothes, ski jacket, sleeping bag and 4 blankets, a boiling water filled plastic water bottle and
was still cold!! I was in my sleeping bag but with only a t-shirt on, being manly and all. (I was so cold as well).
Vick ended up kicking me out of my bed as I got so hot in the night and had to get air, so went into her bed for the rest of the night!! She was warm by then haha!!!
Today was a chore; we had to get up at 04:30 to get breakfast, which consisted of cold pancakes and scrambled eggs. We had to get up early so we could be at the “Sol de mañana” geysers for sunrise.
Everyone seemed in a glum mood for having to get up but it was worth it, as the geysers were amazing and the sunrise was really good. (Still not got the photos from Franz yet as he was our photo expert with his fancy camera).There were also boiling mud pits here, we were warned to keep away from the edges as it was wet, slippery and dark and if we fell in it would boil us!!!
We then drove
to the hot springs, these were amazing, it was meant to cost something to get in but I just stripped off as I had my swimming shorts on. I literally fell into the pool!! Everyone thought I had hurt myself but I was fine, just happy to be in the warm!!! The two Belgium guys also got in but everyone else was too cold. We had a beer each in the pool, it tasted amazing. After 15 mins the driver was pushing us to go, as we had to get to the border as we had optioned to get the bus to San Pedro in Chile.
It was a good 2 hour drive to the border, once there we got our bags off and did all the customs stamping stuff, pissed off that they charge 15 BOB to leave the country!! We had paid for the bus into San Pedro so it was just waiting for others to arrive before we headed off. Everyone on our tour was going to Chile apart from Franz, so we said our goodbyes to him.
We went through Chile customs and it was hassle free, thank god!! Soon
enough we were in San Pedro, Chile…another country!! We got dropped off and had a 10 min walk to our hostel Talar.
The Hostel was nice enough, and lucky for us only 3 other people who were in a private room, so we got the dorm to ourselves!! WOO HOO!!
After checking in, showering and relaxing we headed into town for a look around and to do some shopping for dinner. The town is basic and there are no roads just very dusty tracks everywhere!! Vick marked out all the shops she wanted to see the next day; we then found a shop where we got some pasta, tomatoes, onions and wine for dinner. Wine was £2.50 for a really nice red but everything else was fairly expensive.
We headed back and cooked up dinner, watched a film called “Tomorrowland” and then crashed after a very long day and tour.
We really enjoyed the tour, mainly because we had a really good group; this makes the difference on tours like this!!
Hope you enjoyed this blog, any questions feel free to message us.
Love N&V X
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