A totally OUT OF THIS WORLD experience!

Trip Start Jul 07, 2012
Trip End Aug 12, 2013

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Where I stayed
Salt Hotel
Salt flats

Flag of Bolivia  , Uyuni,
Thursday, October 4, 2012

As I write this the permanent smile I've had on my face over the last 3 days is still there. I have had one of the best experiences of my life so far. I've not stopped smiling or being amazed or being in awe of such a breathtaking natural environment - this is certainly true to my geographer routes. First stop was the Chilean border control, pretty relaxed, you could probably run through without anyone knowing but I'm officially stamped out! 10-15 minutes later I reach a concrete shack in the middle of nowhere with no military, no fences and no walls. Bolivian border control! Unbelievable! So now I'm stamped in and I am officially in Bolivia! Woooo! After a hearty breakfast at the border provided by our tour operator Cordillera Travel we embarked upon our 4x4 journey. I was in a jeep with two forty something Brazilian couples who spoke a little English while the other jeep was a mix of British, Australian, Dutch, Belgium and Brazilian - all of which were around my age and all spoke their own language plus English and Spanish. Anyway as it turned out my driver was so much more informative than the other, he knew the roads well (although lines in sand and salt with no road markings other that mountains and lagoons to navigate by don't really count as roads) and drove at a safe speed. My understanding of Spanish also improved lots although I can still only speak a little!!

Anyway this can only ever be a summary of the amazing sights I experienced. Yes you can see the pictures but you really have to see it to believe it. I saw the most amazing colorful Lagoons that had wild flamingos inhabiting them and I've never been so giddy!! A completely awesome experience. After traveling through the sandy national park seeing breathtaking lagoon after lagoon we landed at hostel that we had been pre-warned would be the most freezing night. We had a hearty warm dinner and at 8pm I retired to bed. I pulled on my 3 layers of trousers, 3 layers of tops, thick woolen socks and thermal hat and climbed on my bed that was basically a mattress on blocks of concrete and got inside my sleeping bag and pulled over my 4 thick blankets - I had a perfect toastie sleep!

We started the next day at 730 when we moved through more lagoons, more flamingos, eroded rock formations and impressive volcanoes. We finished our evening in the salt hotel. The building was made from salt, the floor was thick salt (like sand) and the furniture was all made of salt. We had our first shower (1 shared between our group of 12 and the 20 expected new arrivals) of the last couple of days which I enjoyed very much as I was covered in sand and salt. Then we drank a couple of beers, chatted, laughed and told jokes for the rest of the evening. In between we had dinner which was delicious. Llama meat with rice, vegetables and potatoes. Delicious.

The final day started with a 4am wake up call as we had all agreed we wanted to see the sunrise over the Salar de Uyuni (salt flats) and it was a decision well made. Being stood in the middle of nowhere with only salt under you feet and no buildings, people, lights or mountains the surmise colors in the sky were stunning! I took lots of pictures as you can imagine. We traveled further down the salt flats and took some very fun pictures. It was just so much to take in that all around was pure salt. Our next stop was the cactus island which was in the middle of the salt flats. This was pretty cool, 800 and 900 year old cacti still standing where pretty amazing given it takes 1 year for the cactus to grow 1cm!! I took some awesome and funny pictures. After a 50 minute walk around the island we returned to a nice breakfast laid out on a stone table with a view of the salt flats. Awesome. We also visited a salt hotel, had delicious breakfast, a cool active volcano and a train cemetery of old rusty trains. We were lucky that a still running cargo train passed while we were there and he tooted his horn and waved, I was so excited.

The trip finished in Uyuni where a few of the group had a lengthy wait until we boarded our buses the next destination...for me La Paz, Bolivia.

My La Paz update will follow... The reason for the delay on blogs is because I've been wifi free in the Amazon Rainforest doing a jungle trek and then on Isla Del Sol, an island on Lake Titicaca!! Those updates will follow in the next week as I head across to Peru ahead of my trek to Machu Pichu!!

Missing home a little, miss you all lots. But looking forward to Dip joining me in a couple of weeks in NZ, wooooo xx

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Em on

Hey Adele. You blogs entries all seem to revolve around yummy breakfasts!!! Glad you're having such a phab time. Will read on with interest (just catching up on the backlog, Louise kindly forwarded me the link again).
ps. i'd like to try a llama burger

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