Probably the best bus journey in the world.......
Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
332Trip End Jan 19, 2007
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As we entered the countryside the scenery evolved from green hills to desert and coloured cliffs. The roads were good but very windy and fortunately not too busy. We were constantly trying to take photos out of the window which was not easy! In many ways the scenery was better than our trip yesterday. Then we saw glaring white in the distance of the salt flats. There was literally a road going through them which was fantastic to go through, if a bit sad it had to be built. The bus stopped for lunch at a restaurant in the middle of nowhere but it was nice to get out and take some more photos before we continued onwards. Not long after we stopped at a small checkpoint and all got stamped out of Argentina with our power mad bus drivers dictating where we should go where and when!
On our descent we could see the landscape turning to pinky desert and we then suddenly stopped at a few buildings of the same colour to discover it was the Chilean checkpoint. We all got out and loaded off our bags which were all checked for fresh produce etc and all got back on the bus expecting another hours journey or so. But no, we had actually arrived in San Pedro and 5 mins later were dropped off at a square to be met by touts for various hostels. We went with the cheapest (surprisingly enough) Residencial Corvatsch which was fine but a lot more expensive than Argentina!
Having dumped our stuff we went for a wander around town, also with Gloria a Swiss-German we met in Salta. The town is small and quite touristy but I liked it as it felt quite different with the pinkish single story buildings and a nice old square with a white church which almost looked Greek.
We also discovered that the only ATM here was for Mastercard when we have Visa. Hence no cash. Fortunately a few places changed travellers cheques and we also had some spare dollars. (Its worth stocking up on these before you get here if travelling to Uyuni as there is no cashpoint there either we later found out!) We then started questioning the numerous tour agencies about trips from here to Uyuni in Bolivia via the salt flats. After some serious questioning and lots of info we plumped for Estrella del Sul at $85 for 2 nights 3 days inc food seemed ok and not the cheapest. Subsequently read in the Senatur office in the main square that they had the most recommendations which was a relief as some tours are meant to be awful.
By this time my head hurt so we had some more food (feels expensive compared to rest of S America but still cheaper than home. About 1,000 Chilean Pesos to the pound and meals about a fiver for 3 courses). Then off to bed.