Trip Start Apr 10, 2013
16Trip End Jun 26, 2013
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There was like 100 tour operators, which we later learnt did essentially the same tour. The main differences seemed to be how sober the driver was, and the condition of the car. All the cars were Toyota Land Cruisers, so when we arrived at each location along the way there would be 30ish other Toyotas all converging on the same spot. Great ad for Toyota, because the cars also seemed unstoppable. Ours seemed like it was going to conk out at any second and didn't seem to want to go uphill, which was unfortunate considering the place was covered in mountains.
We had 6 of us tourists packed into our Land Cruiser, together with a driver and a cook and all our gear
Back on our car, the drivers display was lit up like a christmas tree. When asked if there was anything wrong, the driver would just say everything was all good before opening up the bonnet, staring intently at the engine, poking randomly and then closing the bonnet again with a confused look... apparently the salt would get into the contacts and spark everything off. Not at all convincing, but we made it back.
When cars did break down, all other passing cars, even from other operators, would stop and offer assistance. One car must have blown its wheel hub seal thingos. The mechanic had come from Uyuni with a replacement vehicle and had the axle apart ready to drive it 10 hours home form near the Chile border. He used a coke bottle as a make-shift cover to limp it back - nothing like a bit of bush-mechanics.
The tour pretty much covered the altiplano area, which was awesome, but we wont bore you with those details. Great scenery, complete with volcanoes and geisers. And a hot-spring that was like a bath and crystal clear water!
P.S. that tummy bug has gone and I can eat everything I can get my hands on again (no frozen pizza, tho)... woohoo