Bolivia´s Salt Flats

Trip Start Jan 08, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Tuesday, May 23, 2006

After a great four days in Salta it was time to hit the road and head to Bolivia. Awesome!!! Beans and rice are the go we heard from now on. No more meat!!! A small tear is running down my face.

We jumped on an early morning bus and headed to the border town of La Quiaca. Along the way it was easy to notice the change in landscape from trees and greenery to dust and dirt. Crossing the border into Bolivia at Villazon was no worries as it seemed you could bring anything into Bolivia....but the line on the otherside heading into Argentina was bursting at the sides. Geez i wonder why?

With the increase in altitude it become more of a struggle to carry our backpacks and rest stops along the way to the train station were necessary. Yes it was the altitude... not the fitness this time. haha. The train station was full of people (some who had waited for five hours) soon to be told that the train was not running today.(Welcome to Bolivia!!!) Paul and I walked down to the bus station to buy tickets before the crowd from the bus station raced down to get their own. On this walk we were stopped by two characters who quickly flashed their fake police identification and wanted to take us in their car that all of a sudden popped up next to us.... Yeah right fellas!!! No thanks and see you later. To our surprise they didnīt try to stop us. Funny police. haha. Once back at the train station to grab our bags and Katie, the train had decided to leave after all..... so we bought some tickets and headed for Tupiza. Travel here is very cheap!!!!

After a few hours on the train and covered in dust from the open windows along the way, we soon found a hostel that seemed fairly cool. A shower and dinner was the next step. The following day (Happy Motherīs Day to all the mums reading this)we checked out Tupiza. A small town with no banks but known for its tours to the famous Salt Flats. Our trip was organised and the following morning we were off on our four day, 4x4 tour of Southern Bolivia with our two new friends, Brian and Sivan from the US. The tour included 1200km of driving in four days past beautiful lakes (with flamingoes!!! wow!!), lots of Volcanos, hot spings, old villages (1600 A.D), geysers, rock trees, the Dali desert (Salvidor Dali) and of course the infamous Salt Flats, all while at a height of between 4000-5000m. Most mornings we were up between 5-6am with temperatures below zero, followed by beautiful days with the possibility of getting a sun tan. A few nights of feeling the effects of the high altitude added with the freezing cold made for more of an interesting yet enjoyable trip. Ending up at the Salt Flats was incredible. Up to 4-5m thick in some areas, for as far as you eye could see, this by far stole the show!

To get there for sunrise we were up at 4.45am in the 4x4 with sleeping bags covering us to stop us freezing. With perfect timing on behalf of our awesome driver Samuel, we arrived to the edge of the flats just on sunrise to get some awesome pictures of the sunīs reflection off the water covering the edge of the Salt Flats. Wow!!. On to Fishermanīs Island, an island in the middle of the Salt Falts covered in cactus trees. Not just a few..literally covered!! Remember that the Salt Flats cover a distance of over 12,000km2!!!!!!! Huge!! How Samuel remembered to find it in the middle of this huge expanse of whiteness was amazing. Not including the fact that all this white made you see funny things in the distance, that werenīt always there........

With some breakfast in the stomach and a cuppa tea to warm us up, we had an hour or so to follow the path around the island. With lots of pictures and some quiet moments to soak it all in we headed out to the white expanse to get some final pictures. The endless white caused our perspective to change and made for some funny photos! Check them out!

A quick stop in the Salt Flats Hotel (all made out of salt) and then a stop at the edge of the flats to see how the salt is collected. A 50kg back of salt is worth about US$1. Not terribly much for the workers. Even with this much salt, Bolivia does not export it.

Soon we were leaving the salt flats to have our final lunch and then we finished our four day journey in Uyuni about 20 mintues from the Salt Flats. What a great experience!

and now on to the rest of Bolivia. Should be a good laugh! See you then

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