Southern Bolivia (Salar De Uyuni)

Trip Start Dec 05, 2005
Trip End Mar 02, 2006

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Friday, February 3, 2006

Our trip to the Salar de Uyuni(in English the salar de Uyuni are Bolvia's salt flats) was really incredible (as you can view from the many photos I took!). It is quite the challenge to get to and from this town since the roads leading to the town hardly exist (and are even worse during the rainy season). We took a train from the town of Oruro to get to Uyuni and unfortunately took the bus to return(more to come with this story). Our train was of course late departing by three hours and then all of a sudden stopped in it's tracks six hours into the trip (stuck for over an hour) because somehow a truck driver got his truck stuck on the tracks (he must have fallen asleep at the wheel and drove off the road that paralleled the train tracks). So what initially what was to be a late afternoon train turned into an overnight train. We were happy to finally arrive in Uynuni, but we arrived about five in the morning and of course nothing was open so we were stuck freezing in the train station until we were finally able to find a hotel open later that morning (the "fun" of travelling sometimes..... huh?). We reunited with our Dutch friends and sorted out a tour to go on. The Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt lake in the world. To see the flats and the surrounding desert, you have to take a guided tour in a 4 wheel drive since there are no roads in these parts of the country. Our tour lasted for 4 days and 3 nights. The stark desert scenery, vast open landscapes, volcanoes and bizarre rock formations, at times, gave a surreal view from the Toyota's window. The ride was a bit rough at times, especially on the bottom, but well worth the inexpensive $60 per person for the cost of this whole trip (this included food and accommodation)! Some of the highlights of our trip included a stop at the salt lake itself (including a stop at a hotel made completely out of bricks made from salt); Laguna Colorado, (a large lake that attracts crowds of flamingoes); an early morning sunrise at the Sol de la Maņana (where we saw huge geysers, fumaroles, and mud boiling right on the surface of the ground); and Laguna Verde (an emerald green lagoon that sits right below a volcano Some interesting facts I discovered: Salar de Uyuni is estimated to contain 10 billion tons of salt of which less than 25,000 tons is extracted annually. Every November, Salar de Uyuni is also the breeding grounds for three breeds of South American flamingos - Chilean, James and Andean. Along with the beautiful flamingoes we saw flocks of llamas, and wild vicuņas grazing on the limited vegetation in this arid and cold environment. A trip definitely worth doing in South America.
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