Volcanoes, lagoons, flamingo's and salt, lots of.

Trip Start Apr 05, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tupiza would be my startingpoint for the salar tour. 
After waiting for 2 weeks for the strike at Potosi to end, and already having psychologically accepted that I would skip this important part of my trip for now, I did end up being able to go. The one thing I really learn here is that I can plan as much as I want, up till now I think the rate of really doing things as planned were probably about 1 out of 250. Nice, just taking things as they come, but I still consider it important to research the options.
The Salar is the main attraction of Bolivia, Bolivia's Machu Picchu. And along the road many travelers told me the tour is much nicer starting from Tupiza instead of its standard starting point, Uyuni. Little detail is that it is also double the price, and the tour ends in Uyuni. Not sure if it was really worth it for me.My tour friends were 3 french people from the Pyrenean area, being perfect because the french language database in my mind started to be written over by Spanish. Whenever I get to speak french to a tourist it goes like this "Pero, uughh Mais, Yo euuughh no, Je...." So it was perfect to have 4 days of french-repetition.Generally there's tons of french traveling in this part of the world. Very noticeable, I (and many others) wonder why.
The tour was great, amazing nature, mind blowing... just a pity to be in the jeep for 4 days, would have been great to hike in nature, but the main sights are very spread out. We saw mountains (realizing we hovered around 4000 meters altitude constantly, everything is high here, weird because you have large flat areas, but still they're at 4000m altitude, and the little hills we pass are actually high mountains). We slept at 4600m, wow! Pretty cold, it's still winter here, but already a LOT better then June/July (the first night of the Salkantay trek was the coldest of my life). So having it had a lot worse, I found this very comfortable. Few layers of fleece, sleeping bag, and a nice night of rest. Traveling definitely makes you shift your comfort level and a happier person :).

Our driver was a young guy, and he was really doing his best to be great. The last day, he tried to take a short-cut through the salar, and so he took a road nobody took, and we soon found out why. Suddenly he braked really hard and we had to get out of the car asap. Already had a few flat tires on the way, so my first thought was, another one... But out of the car we saw the car had digged itself through the salt into the soft, wet ground below it. We were stuck.
And as there was no other car coming here (obviously), we were really stuck.
The driver and the one guy in the group started walking looking for help. This gave me such a deja-vu to different disaster-movies... 2 of the group leave for help, we won't see them again!
As the salar is a giant flat it took them more then an hour to disappear from our sight. 

We waited for hours, and the group already decided they would eat me first :( But luckily, after long hours of waiting in the middle of nowhere, and getting a tan, we saw a jeep coming with our driver happily waving on the top of the roof. 
And then that stupid stupid jeep... drove towards us.

Do NOT drive fast towards a place where another car got stuck. Not if it's the salar. Of course suddenly the rescue-car also got stuck.  
All images of doom raised in my head thanks to Hollywood came back, but now with new company. This started to look like a Lost-episode.   
Anyways too make a long story short, we did get out, eventually, after a lot of pushing, digging, dragging giant pieces of salt, and finally finding the secret button to turn on the 4x4 drive. UGHHH that did it of course!!! RTFM! I would say! :)
Earlier in this trip we encountered the weirdest animals, like huge chinchillas, of bunnys with fluffy tales that can climb, with the name "biscoti", just like an italian thing to dip in the coffee.
Other blogs to follow soon! Running behind :)


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