Action, drama and border crossing

Trip Start Apr 24, 2006
Trip End Apr 20, 2007

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Sunday, February 18, 2007

We reluctantly left Buenos Aires and caught our flight to Salta in northern Argentina. Its a smallish city set amongst some very picturesque mountains. We had planned to stop off here for a day or two before heading to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, from where we would do a tour of the Bolivian Salt Flats. Unfortunately the bus we intended to get to San Pedro was booked up for the next five days (Im not having much luck with the buses here!), and although Salta was a nice city, we were limited in time so decided to go a different route.

So the next morning we embarked on our 8 hour bus to La Quaica, which is in Argentina and on the border with the Bolivian town of Villazon, from where could get the train to Uyuni. La Quaica is a small, dusty, sleepy but quite pretty town with a crazy and crowded bus station and very little else.

On arrival in La Quaica we immediately set off to get out train tickets in Villazon. We queued for an hour in the 34 degree heat to go through customs and immigration before realising that we were permanently on the end of the queue and other people seemed to be just walking across. We decided to live life on the edge and do the same. After wandering around Villazon for ages and getting a variety of directions from locals, we found the train station (we were thrown off the scent by the fact that it looked like a house), bought our tickets and made our way back to La Quaica where we collapsed with heat exhaustion and hunger. I think the altitude sickness was beginning to set in aswell as we were around 3500 metres above sea level.

The train journey to Uyuni was great, the scenery amazing and we even got to eat in the dining carraige which was a novelty! that was until the train did an emergency break and everything went flying but it was still worth it. We arrived in Uyuni at midight and were quite relieved to locate our hostel after roaming around in the dark for a while. The country was in the middle of celebrating their carnaval so there were lots of parades, music, dancing and kids skirting each other (and us!) with water pistols, water bombs and foam.

Next were going to head off on a 3 day tour of Salar de Uyuni (the Salt Flats) and the surrounding area which will take us into northern Chile. Its certainly challenging travelling here, especially as our Spanish is anything but good but its all experience!
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