Bright White

Trip Start Oct 22, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Thursday, October 26, 2006

Arriving in Uyuni early the next day we got off the bus to the hordes of touts pushing their tours of the salt flats. One lady was very persistent, even though we told her we had already booked from La Paz. After looking at her business card we all realised she already had our business! Following her the five minute walk to Plaza Acre we dumped our stuff in the Turismo Desierto office and headed out to grab some breakfast.

Initially we were to share a car with a French couple, but as they wanted to head down into Chile we got re-allocated into another car with two Polish couples. Initially a bit apprehensive at joining a group that all knew each other, we were pleasantly surprised and glad to meet Daniel and Magdalena from Warsaw and Macrin and Gosia, also from Warsaw, but now living in Moscow. They made us welcome into their traveling group and for our benefit, spoke mainly English. Daniel was also great as he's studied some Spanish and was translating into both English and Polish when our driver, Ovideo, explained what we were doing. At around 10.30AM with the 18 year old Toyota Landcruiser fully loaded, we headed out to see the Cemetery of Trains, just outside of Uyuni. The town of Uyuni has had a large mining past and these old locomotives were used to transport the minerals across Bolivia. Now they lay still, rusting in the cold air. After wandering around the many rusting relics we headed back into town to pickup our cook, Clementine and headed out to see where the locals refine the salt, collected out on the flats.

This was a pretty touristy display of what the locals turn the salt into (dice, pots, sculptures and even salt and pepper shakers) and after a quick look and some photos we drove onwards out onto the salt flats. The salt flats are amazing. You definitely need your sun glasses on as it's so white and bright. The conditions are amazing for taking photos as the white of the salt contrasts the blue of the sky and white and grey of the clouds. After taking heaps of photos in the ideal conditions we drove onwards to one of the remaining hotels in the middle of the salt flats, Hotel de Sal. You can no longer stay at these hotels due to environmental concerns, but we heard they are being moved elsewhere, closer to the edge of the flats. Heading down the black road we followed the other 20 odd four-wheel drives to the cactus covered Isla de los pescadores or Fish Island. Lunch was a yummy steak (not sure if it was alpaca or not) prepared by Clementine and after we'd had our fill we drove onwards to a small village called Coqueza were we would spend our first night.
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