Uyuni Salt Flat tour

Trip Start May 06, 2007
Trip End Jul 22, 2007

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Where I stayed

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Saturday, June 30, 2007

Southwestern Bolivia is COLD.

Having said that, I had a great time on the Uyuni Salt Flat tour. I recommend staying at Hotel Avenida, which had surprisingly hot showers.

Here are the highlights of the tour:

- Went on the 3 day Jeep tour with four Dutch travelers: Niels, Loes, Myrte, Ruben
- Salt flats: thousands of square km of the flattest land in the world; literally a completely flat plain of 11-meter-thick white salt, forming beautiful hexagon-shaped patterns, stretching to the horizon
- Passed a hotel made out of salt
- An "island" in the middle is home to gigantic cactuses, 12m tall and 1/3m wide
- Rested in the tiny town of San Juan, where the locals were having a disco party in their multipurpose room (looked like a middle school dance with a row of men facing a row of women, all shuffling around nervously and avoiding eye contact)

- Drove through fantastic volcanic-formed fields with wind-carved rock formations
- Visited several lakes, colored yellow and green from volcanic minerals and chemicals, and saw pink and white flamingos wading in the water

- Woke up to -5 degree F temperatures
- Caught a cold -- d'oh!
- Went to a live volcanic area with geysers and bubbling mud
- Visited Laguna Verde, a picture perfect lake with snow capped volcanoes reflecting in its still surface
- Driving through desolate terrain reminiscent of Mars -- endless fields of rough red rocks, and almost no vegetation or life to speak of
- Lunch next to Laguna Colorada, colored red from microorganisms, whose shore was mysteriously covered with dozens of dead flamingos
- Looooong drive back to Uyuni

This tour was one of my best experiences so far, despite having a cold toward the end. The landscapes here are so surreal, no wonder one of the deserts is named after surrealist painter Salvador Dali. It really felt like being on another planet.

On a side note, our guide, Ambrosio, worked with National Geographic a few months ago on a piece on Southwestern Bolivia, so keep an eye out over the next several issues for a glimpse of his work! He also happened to be our Jeep driver AND our cook -- great guy.
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