Salt Flats

Trip Start Aug 17, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Sunday, December 1, 2013

We arrived in uyuni at about 7 am after the bumpiest bus ride I have ever taken. It was literally 4x4 driving for 6 hours occasionally flying out of my seat. We got picked up from the bus station by our tour organizer who spoke no English. We had a tea then walked halfway across town to his office and  had some shitty expensive brekky.

We went to the market to buy some animal toys to do the standard famous salt flat photos where you are getting eaten by a T. rex and shit. We bought some food and an insane amount of toys and went back to our tour office and got in our car. Our tour group consists of Erica from Bolivia, her friend Laura from Spain, Alessandro from Italy, grace from Sydney who we met on the bus from puno, Jenny and I.

We set off at 10am with first stop being the train graveyard just outside of uyuni. This was super cool. The sun was in the perfect spot to make the photos come out perfectly and the contrast of rusty steel against a pure blue sky was really amazing. The only downer is that because the salt flat tours are so popular, we shared the train graveyard with no less than 100 people so it was difficult to showcase the beauty without some German or French person running in front of your lens but hopefully I can crop them out.

We got back in our land cruiser and visited a little souvenir town where you can buy more alpaca beanies, jumpers, scarves etc and countless souvenirs made from salt. We walked around a little museum that had animals made from salt and took some photos before making our way back to the car and heading to the salt flats. We went to an area that was just a huge white expanse with some strategically placed piles of salt and took some photos there.

We moved on after 10 minutes to a huge flat expanse of salt lake to take the trademark photos and have some lunch. It is harder than it looks to take these photos without having either the toy or the person out of focus. Either my camera is too good or I haven't learned to use it to its full potential so resorted to the iPad for photos which worked, but not great. We had a little lunch then had a little more time to try and perfect the photos and only just started to get the hang of it as we were leaving.

Next stop was a space on the salt plain which was an island called Isla de pescado (fish island) because you need a boat to get to it in wet season. The island is famous as it has a massive assortion of cactus that tower up to 10 metres into the sky. The entry for the island was 30 bolivianos which is $5 and also had a free bathroom trip included. How kind of these people. We walked around to a mirador (lookout) and to be honest for me it was all a bit underwhelming. It seemed to me like it was all too fairly talked up by the people we whom had been there before and wanted to make it sound like it was the best experience. At the end of the day to me it was just a huge pile of white shit not any different to snow.

After the lookout we went to get a closer look and take some more perspective photos with toys. We started getting some better pictures here after we sort of had an idea of how to do them. We saw some llamas on the salt plain which was really cool that they can live here with such little water. It guide was rushing us though the places for whatever reason so we had to go and make our way to our hostel accommodation for the night.

Again the drive although literally 12km on nothing but flat white salt was overrated for me. The rest of the people in the car absolutely loved it but I dunno what it was. Maybe after being to colca canyon and Machu Picchu it seems like this just didn't compare at all to some of the scenery I have seen before. My opinion.

We arrived at the hostel which was completely made out of salt; the walls, the beds, the tables and chairs which was a cool novelty. We got into our room them walked outside to take some photos of the mountains surrounding (we had since left the comfort of the salt flats). We had a 4 minute shower that went cold after 30 seconds, then we had some dinner which even after asking, I don't know what I ate.

One of the joys of being in the desert hundreds and hundreds of km from the nearest bit of light pollution is that you can see the most beautiful stars. I must have seen 4 shooting stars in 10 minutes but that was all the time I could manage outside as the desert gets freezing cold at night! Despite the Antarctic weather, I have never seen so many stars in my life; it was absolutely mind blowing to see the whole sky covered from top to bottom as far as you can see with stars. Probably the prettiest night scenery I have ever seen. After chatting to some people It was time for bed
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