Salar de Uyuni

Trip Start Dec 02, 2007
Trip End Dec 28, 2007

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Sunday, December 2, 2007

We cross the Bolivian border with no problems and no queues, everything goes smoothly. Yipee, we're in Villazon, Bolivia now. It's quite a big difference. The streets are more chaotic, little women in traditional clothes with babies strapped to their back and wrapped up in those beautiful colourful materials are everywhere. We get a two hour bus ride to Tupiza,  which backdrop is very much like in a western film, with amazing rock formations. As soon as we get to Villazon, we book a four day tour by jeep through the Salar de Uyuni, which is the biggest salt plain in the world. Every traveler we've met on the road has recommended us to do this tour, and they were absolutely right. Since it's Sunday, almost nothing is open and we're absolutely not prepared for the cold. They told us we would be staying in villages where it gets to -8C at night. So I go looking for a wooly hat and eventually find one in a market. Now I'm completely one of the locals!
We share our jeep with Ana from Brazil and Emmanuel from France, two friends who met each other traveling. Also Alfredo, our driver, and Delfina, our cook, are really great people and we got on along great during those four days, which made the trip of course even better. The first day we go through some windy roads up the mountains. The night before it had rained loads so the roads were bad, but I have to say I'm amazed at the power of a jeep! Wow, this is the kind of nature a jeep needs. We crossed muddy waters, sunk almost half into it, and still made it to the other side! For the first time, I also see some lamas, really cute. The first night we spent in a tiny village close to the Andes. It's freezing cold outside but with about ten layers of clothes, a sleeping bag and about three blankets, I sleep pretty well.
The second day we visit a ghost town, people left it because of some bad omen and some dark legends go around. We visit also some hot water springs, really nice and relaxing but because of the altitude we can't sit in it for more than 10 minutes. We all suffer a bit from the altitude, as they had warned us (except for Ana who lives in Brasilia, which is already on 1000m above sea level). Just a few steps is enough to make me completely exhausted and it seems like I can't get enough air. Weird feeling. Alfredo tells us to put some coca leaves in our mouth. Didn't really work for me cos I think I chewed them...darn. The same day we also see some geysers, the Lago Azul, Blue Lake, and climb up to the highest point we will get, 5000 meters. 

The third day we pass by the Lago Colorado where you can see loads of flamencos from close by. Also a few lamas are strolling around, I really love them, they're such funny animals but I wouldn't get too close too them. We spent the last night in a place where the floor was made out of salt and the bases of the beds as well AND where we could have a shower! ...wonderful after three days having slept and walked around in the same clothes. But anyway, nothing would be prepare us for the next morning. We wake up at 4am so we can see the sunrise over the Salar, the highlight of our trip. When there is water on the salar, you get an incredible effect....the sky and everything reflects in the water just as if you're walking on a perfect mirror. It absolutely took my breath away! When we drove a bit further, unto the dry part of the Salar, we're just all on our own, with no one around for miles, and we make funny pictures with optical illusions (see pictures. no, we didn't take a giant ton and huge sheep with us in the car :) 

We arrived in Uyuni and stayed there a night before heading off to Potosi.  
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ernamaria on

Butch in Mexico
ok, thanks for the info. So LP was wrong!

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