Salar de uyuni

Trip Start Oct 03, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Wednesday, February 8, 2012

After being back in La Paz for a few days I took I night bus to Uyuni to visit the Salar de Uyuni which are the largest salt flats in the world.  I had heard that the landscape of the trip is incredible but many of the trip accommodations themselves are quite poor.  In fact, when you go on-line and try to find a recommendation for a company, all you can really find is horror story after horror story of peoples experience on these tours.  But, it's something you do none-the-less.  So, I met a girl in my hostel in La Paz and we decided to head down to Uyuni together.  We decided to pay for the more expensive 'tourist' bus to get down to Uyuni because it is apparently much safer and faster. We didn't book a tour ahead of time because our bus was suppose to arrive between 5-7am and the tours don't leave until 10am, leaving us plenty of time to find a company and join a tour.  

 So we get to our bus with 30 seconds to spare (forgetting Bolivian time, so we actually had 30min to spare).  But being the westerners that we are, we are stressing out in the La Paz traffic until we finally get out at the terminal and run to our bus.  

 As  soon as we get on the bus we hear the news that due to road conditions we are going to have to take another route to Uyuni and will not arrive until 10 or 11am in the morning.  However, the bus company has notified tours and if you have already booked a tour your group will 'probably' wait for you.  And if you haven't already booked a tour (cough, cough) well then you're just sh** out of luck.  Perfect.  Off to a good start.I have to say though, that from that moment on it was all up hill.  Well, kinda.  The bus ride to Uyuni felt a bit like an early 1990s roller coaster/simulated 3D ride where you are just being bounced non-stop from side to side.  

But we got to Uyuni, found a wonderful tour and had 3 of the most amazing days of my life.  Salar de Uyuni is at an altitude of 3653m and is 12,106 sq km.  It is part of a prehistoric salt lake that has since dried up but has left two large salt flat areas as well as tons of gorgeous lagoons.  For 3 days we traveled by car through the remote south western area of Bolivia and were greeted by rolling hills, volcanoes, llamas, flamingos and colorful lagoons.  On the last morning we woke up at 4:00am to visit a geyser basin which is boiling mud pots and sulfurous fumaroles.  I tried to take pictures and video but I don't think there was any way to capture this spectacular spot.  

The whole tour was amazing.  And one of the best parts was that we had a wonderful group, people from Holland, Denmark, France, Spain and Germany.  We spent the whole time going back and forth between Spanish and English and I made some great friends that I can meet up with later in my travels and in their home countries the next time I get over to Europe :) 

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