Please pass the Salt - ok Too Much!

Trip Start Sep 15, 2008
Trip End Jan 01, 2009

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Sunday, November 30, 2008

Night bus - early arrival - sleep - ahhh.

Arik woke up early to book a tour across the barren Salar Del Uyuni and over to Chile while Charis clocked a few more Zzzz´s.  We booked with a company recomended by some friends, Latitudes, and luckily it was 2 doors down from our hotel. 

The trip would be a 3 day jeep tour and finish on the Chilean border where we would cross over to San Pedro de Atacama.  In our jeep was Waldo - the driver, his wife - the cook, and his cute little daughter - the entertainment.  For other travelers we had the token Israelis and two Kiwi´s, an awesome group!

Day 1
First stop was a train graveyard - spooky...not really.  The trains were just left in the middle of the desert after newer diesel trains were bought in the early 1900´s, but it was kind of a surreal image of these locamotives rusting in the desert.

Next we entered the main Salt plain of the Salar.  The Salar de Uyuni is the largest expanse of salt in the world and is visible from space (looks really cool on Google Earth as well).  The salt is mainly mined for use in food, with some used for cosmetics or making chemicals.  The views are insane!  Far off everthing has a reflection as if in an oasis, and close up everything is blindingly white which completely distorts depth perception (hence the funny pics, Charis didn´t shrink).  The area is considered one of the most inhospitable in the world with a type of camel, a few birds, flamingos, and rodent being the only residents.  The salt is what remains of a previous ocean that covered the area before the Andres rose up out of the Pacific.  As sometimes skeptical of scientific theory (like in Nazca) we weren´t sure how a huge ocean could be so cut off, but our next stop gave some pretty clear evidence - it was an ancient underground coral cave with fossilized algae hanging from it.  The cave was only found in 2003 and one of the founders was there to give a tour.

That night we stayed in a hotel of salt: the ground, the tables, the beds, the walls all made of compacted salt cut from the ground the way an eskimo would cut ice for an ingloo.  After a delicious dinner some local Bolivian kids played some music and danced for us, before making us get up and dance to their drum and flute tunes. 

Day 2
For some reason every tour we´ve done in Bolivia and Peru included waking up at ridiculous hours and this was no different.  We were woken at 5:00AM for breakfast and were on the salt road to the next stop.  Today we encountered thousands of Flamingos in crazy colored lagoons of red, green, blue, and white.  The flamingos come here during the Bolivian summer to eat up the algea in the lakes.  Again the vistas were spectacularly bizare. 

Arrival at camp we had dinner and played cards with our group.  Learned a new card game from the Kiwi´s and a Isreali game from the girls.  At the camp site was a monsterous little kid named Louis who spent the night (until about 1AM) running around shouting, hitting, throwing, and stirring up anything he could find.  Our guides daughter Naze was in love with this little bad boy and it was pretty cute to watch, if annoying to have Louis trying to hit you with a chair or garbage can.

Day 3
Today the wake-up call was even earlier - 4:30am for a 1 hour drive to geysers in the desert.  The geysers were really cool with shooting steam and bubbling pools of mud.  After the geysers it was another hour to some natural hot springs - oh yea!  The air temperature was really cold and without change rooms entering and exiting the hot springs wasn´t fun, but the soothing hot water was worth it for Arik to brave the cold (Charis dipped the toes).

A few more hours in the desert past landscapes similar to Mars the moon or some foreign planet and we arrived at the Bolivian border.  We said our goodbyes to the guide and some of the group who would return to Uyuni.  This would mark our halfway point in distance and time for our trip in South America - we shed a little tear of joy and sadness (I had somthing in my eye - Arik).  Bye bye bonita Bolivia!
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roseficke on

Mini Arik
Charis, loved the pic of you and mini Arik!

arikandcharis on

Ahh Patrick, the English Police, I was having so much fun in the sun and eating sushi in Santiago I totally forgot! Will get it up ASAP. Was working on another summary post as well...

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