Salty silliness – Salar de Uyuni

Trip Start Jan 21, 2010
Trip End Apr 24, 2010

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Flag of Bolivia  , Potosí,
Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I have a nice lie in, quick shower and we all meet for breakfast at 9am; all very civilised. We then have a short wander around the nondescript and rather featureless town of Uyuni to pick up some snacks and provisions, and I take the opportunity to purchase some Bolivian red wine for the evening. Then we jump into the back of two 4x4's which will be our chariots for the next 3 days as we head into the wilderness of the South western corner of Bolivia.

Day 1 is all about salt. 1st stop is a small village on the edge of the vast salt flats, the Salar de Uyuni. We are given a quick tour of the salt making process, from collecting the stuff, drying in the sun, then drying in an oven before milling/ grinding and packaging. This stop also offers us the chance to purchase various items, all of course made from salt, as well as alpaca wool based products.

We have a quick ceremony, led by Sole, where we are take a swig of beer and then poor some on the ground for Patchamama, waste of beer of you ask me. Then it’s off to the salt flats proper; a 9000km2 salt 'lake’, and I quote the Rough Guide again in saying " The Salar is not a lake in any conventional sense of the word – though below the surface it is largely saturated by water, its uppermost layer consists of a thick, hard crust of salt, easily capable of supporting the weight of a car".

Except for the mountain ranges on either side this really is the most featureless terrain I have encountered, the nearest I have come to this was the vast snow covered landscape of Yellowstone park in winter. The two 4x4’s speed quite smoothly across its surface as we sit there trying to take it all in. After an hour or so’s drive we stop for lunch at ‘Fish island’ and we take a walk over this rock while our lunch is prepared. Lunch itself is Llama steak and I can highly recommend this meat, very lean and tasty.

Then we drive further into the salty white expanse for our silly picture session; armed with multiple props and a very patient Sole, who does allthe camera work, we take advantage of the lack of perspective afforded by the featureless white landscape….. I’ll leave you a small selection of the photos.

Then we head to our accommodation for the evening, a lodge constructed entirely of salt, with salt bricks, salt tables and salt beds. We pass the time playing cards and chatting; not as easy as it sounds since lights don’t come on until 7pm and its quite dark by 6pm. I make the premium payment of 10 Bolivianos (about 1) which permits me a hot shower and then its time for dinner.

Dinner offers the opportunity to try the Bolivian red wine, I have chosen a Merlot with some advice from Sole. I’m afraid it’s rather disappointing being a little light and quite tannic, without the big fruitiness one would expect from a good Merlot, see I do pay a little attention at wine club. Bolivian wine has some way to go to catch up with its Chilean and Argentinean neighbours; whereas some reds can be described as busty but this one is definitely an A cup (due acknowledgements to Becky and Kate for their breast related wine tasting system )

We play more cards after dinner until the lights go off at 10:30……….. time for bed again.
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Caroline Miller on

fab photos! x

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