Salt Flats

Trip Start Nov 15, 2008
Trip End Jun 15, 2009

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Seeing the salt flats was something I had been looking forward to for a long time.  I had seen so many pictures and heard a heap of people talking it up.  Our vehicle was a Toyota land cruiser like Dads but we fit 8 people in it including our driver and cook.  We nicknamed them grandma and grandpa because they were so old!  Grandma was a bit cold but Philippe, or grandad, was very nice and smiley.  Neither of them spoke English, so once again it was lucky Jo and Jozza were with us.
We decided to do the route backwards to avoid the crowds, and in doing so we forfeited going to Chile.  So on day one we saw the rock valley and Lagoona Colorado.  The rock valley was cool, lots of different rock formations lying about in the middle of no where.  We got some good pictures and had lunch which was Alpaca and vegies.  It was very squishy in the back of the car, the 4x4's really shouldn't have 3 in the back, but it was doable.  Lagoona Colorado is an immense lake the colour of red.  According to our guide the sun wasn't strong enough so the lake was not at its most vibrant.  Either way the shores were surrounded with Llamas and the lake full of flamingos so we were all impressed.
We stayed in basic accommodation that night, but it was warm and dry so you can't complain.  We all played cards that night, but the other two people we were with (Ceri and Tristan) just couldn't get how to play, it was only asshole so not even a vey challenging game!  We went to bed early though as we had a 4am start the net morning.
It was pitch black when we woke up and absolutely freezing cold, grandpa told us it was about -10 degrees!  On the way to our first stop Grandpa suddenly pulled over the car and got out, with out saying a thing.  He then climbed on the roof and started fiddle around with something before lowering a hose.  Jozza got out and asked him what was going on.  Turns out we were almost out of diesel and he had to put some more in. 
Our first stop was Lagoona Verde (green lagoon) which as the name suggests was meant to be green.  Unfortunately this only happens when it is windy so that all the chemicals in the lagoon mix.  It was still an amazing site with the dormant volcano and the reflective waters of the lake.  We stopped by a thermal lake for breakfast and after our pancakes we stayed for a dip.
The geysers were next and these were amazing.  I have never seen them before so I found them very cool.  There were a few signs about saying do not cross, dangerous area, but grandma and grandpa went straight over to the edge and started to look about, so we followed suit.  We got right up amongst them, which was a little scary, but something you wouldn't be allowed to do in say NZ.
The rest of the day was pent driving past more lagoons an active volcano and through more deserts.  We had made good time so Grandpa decided we would stay that night in a salt hotel, sounds cool hey?  Well to get there we had to drive through a huge thunder storm where we were the highest thing around for miles.  It also started to snow.  The salt hotel well, it was meant to be completely of salt.  Well it wasn't, and it was very, very basic.  Yes I admit the beds and tables were craved from salt, but, well I don't know what we were expecting.
So the day had come to see that salt flats.  They were huge and it was very strange driving over a flat white expanse where all you could see around you was white.  We stopped to take a few pictures, well a heap of pictures and then continued on to Piscado Island.  There were a thousand cacti here of all shapes and sizes and it was quiet cool.  You could actually imagine it once being a gigantic sea and this island floating in the middle.  Before returning to Uyuni we stopped at a train graveyard and got mobbed by flies. A very good 3 days and again a must!
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