Sun, Sand and Sulphur!

Trip Start Mar 03, 2008
Trip End Aug 31, 2008

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Flag of Bolivia  , Uyuni,
Sunday, April 27, 2008

Our visit to the border town of Villazon, although brief, immediately allowed us to appreciate the difference between Argentina and Bolivia.  Well known as the poorest South American country Boliva  was awash with unpaved and dusty roads, dishevled, incomplete buildings and a predominantly native population, all dressed in brightly coloured traditional attire.( Cholito women in bowler hats).  As we walked through the town our senses were greeted by bright and colourful markets and people, smells of spices, fruit and food at the roadside stalls and all was enticing.

We were aiming north, towards the famous Salt flats near Uyuni. The train was out of service and thus we headed to the bus station where the only buses were heading to the town of Tupiza.  The bus was old and the roads were dusty and pebble ridden.  Much to my suprise though we made it there without difficulty.  Tupiza is a quiet and decent town but sadly its purpose seems soley to provide all the gringos that pass through it (which they must do order to get to where they are going) a place to eat and sleep. The only other benefit of stopping here however is that an alternative and better tour of the salt flats starts here. Ideal for us, so after a good rest and some really decent food we signed up.

There we were, early morning on day one, standing in front of our 4x4, bags packed and our group standing beside us ( 3 men much to TCs delight!).  Allow me to introduce the group, firstly there was Johan the lawyer from Bristol.  A typical travelling brit, nine months on the road with a beard to show for it, not yet been a working man and thus still overly confident and a rather chatty.  Next there was Uri, a qualified physicist and soldier of 10 years from Israel, taking a serious career break. Uri was nothing like the other Israeli travellers we've met, quiet and polite, pensive, pretty good at spanish after just four months travelling and a mighty good photographer. Finally there was Ellio (the one I suspect TC worried about the most!) a dashing and charming Italian.  He admitted to being married and divorced twice, job unknown but something to do with 'publicity'.  Ellio chose to move to Brazil because "they know how to party".  The other members of the crew included our driver Jose and the chef who happened to be his wife and they brought along their baby girl, thus completing our new temporary family.

We set off on our four day tour, TC and I camped out in the very back of the car and managed to make it quite homely. (Baby and Mrs Jose sat in the middle of the car and remained the centre of attention for much of the trip).  The first day was not particularly exciting, we drove for 7 hrs with stops at small villages that just happened to be on the way.  The village folk were very were friendly though. Driving on, the landscape was thankfully ever-changing and enchanting as we continued. We stayed the night at one of the quaint villages. It was so dark and we were so high in altitude that every star could be seen sparkling vividly and the milky way was amazingly clear. 

Next day we saw lamas grazing only feet from our lunch spot.  We saw lakes of many different colours- red, blue and green and with beautiful mirror effects. Most were populated by flamingos.  Day 3, at 5000m altitude we were taken to the geisers.  Far more exciting than i expected and we had the benefit of not being held back by safety ropes or any other such nonsense. We were free to walk amongst them as close as we liked, i think the photos and video tell all (except the overwhelming smell of sulphur). 
And then on day 4 we arrived on the salt flats in time for the sunrise.  Wow, an awesome unending expance of brilliant white. Here again the pictures tell all, never have i seen my shadow so long.  We worked hard on the perspective pics (a must at any salt flat) so do enjoy!

Jaf x
Next  La Paz and  the Titi lake.....
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beccyandmatt on

Woo hoo!
Wow I love your perspective pictures, I've been giggling at them! Mini jaf!

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