Salar de Uyuni: Whirlwind Rollercoaster of Nature

Trip Start Feb 23, 2010
Trip End Jul 21, 2010

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Where I stayed
Salt Hotel
Residencial la Cabanita

Flag of Bolivia  , Potosí,
Thursday, April 15, 2010

The next day Monique, Cedric, 2 Belgian cousins (Kristoff and Anna), 1 Brit (Becky), a cook, a driver (Marcielo) and myself were off on the tours with Expedicions Latitudes. (The cook supposedly had to come in our car because we were vegetarians, grrr, bullsh*t!)  Try 8 people squished in a Land Cruiser for hours a day on bumpy roads, not the most comfortable.  But it worked.  The tour of the Salar de Uyuni (Salt Flats) was honestly one of the coolest, most incredible trips I've ever been on.  The Salt Flats are awe inspiring, and should you have the opportunity, I highly recommend this as the next trip.  The views are unforgettable.

Just a little explanation of the Salt Flats, millions of years ago South America was flat and the Salar de Uyuni was a lake.  As the earth’s plated shifted, the Andes Mountain range grew and the lake moved higher up toward the sun and dried out, leaving it only of salt.  This is why we were able to see fossilized coral in stalactite and stalagmite formations in the middle of the desert, not far from the Salar.  Also interesting, is that despite the amount of salt that is in the flats (it’s the largest salt flats in the world. Sorry Dad), the mining done there is only distributed within Bolivia because when exported it’s only worth some 40 cents US per kilo!  (If anyone knows or finds out where most salt is coming from that we use for food please tell me!)

Some of the highlights:

-playing on the salt flats, experimenting with the bizarre distortions that are created through the camera lens was hilarious. 

-climbing up the small cactus island and getting the view of the salt flats

-staying overnight in a hotel made of salt!  (Amazing insulator, they should consider this in northern Canada)

-Visiting the Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa (where we saw several colourful lagunas, including one with 4 colors and flamingos and llamas!)

-Hot Springs (nothing like waking up at 4:45 am in –15C weather and then 3 hours later being in 35C waters!)

On the last night we stayed in what seemed like army barracks, hardly insulated and cold beyond belief.  None of us seemed prepared.  I was experiencing altitude sickness, just fatigued, had no appetite and an on/off headache.  The salt flats during the day before were at 3800 meters, and the place we stayed at on the second night was at 4700 meters, go figure my problems.  Girls from HP aren’t accustomed too much above 100 ft above sea level!  Fortunately the trip was great and the people in my group were excellent too, and made it all worth the while. 
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