Accross the salt plains
Trip Start Oct 20, 2008
60Trip End Feb 08, 2009
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Arrival in Uyuni at 2am - REALLY cold, around -7C. Got to the Hotel (included in the tour) and slept immediatly under 6 covers. Woke up and waited 1 hr for the landrover (toyota actually) which arrived late because it was queuing to get petrol in cans (strict control on this as Bolivia is by far the cheapest palce for petrol adn there is alot of smuggling). We got all the bag strapped up on the roof picked up 2 dutch and a brasilian girl and were off. Started by going to see a cemetary of trains where lies the first trains of bolivia. After that strait towards the Salar de Uyuni. Crossed the desert of sand and rock with shades of red, yellow and brown and in the distance could see appear a limpid white strectch of land going far into the horizon. Stopped at a town bordering the Salar where loads of ornements made out of salt were on display (ashtrays, cups, statues, dice etc). Some houses where built out of salt aswell and then we were off into the desert of salt. Stopped not far in where people were collecting the salt, took a few picture and continued on. In the middle was a Salt hotel, where everything was made of salt apart from teh windows and mattress. Continued on through teh desert (which is really as far as the eye can see - it covers a bigger area than the lake titicaca.) Driving along teh Vast barren white landscape with massive volcanoes in the distance cornering the emptiness, floating in the sky as the heat creates visual distorsions at the ground level and progressively starts to appear a small brown rock in teh distance (agian floating in the airs) - the cacti island. Arrived at the island in the middle of the salt desert controlled by Cacti and climbed the top of the small moutain to admir teh view. Had lunch (chicken milanese - thin deepfried slice of chicken). Then continued our journey accross the desert to reach our final destination of the day: a Salt hotel on the limits of the Salar of Uyuni. Again eveyrhting apart from the bathroom, windows and matress (the bed is made of salt) is made of salt. Surprisingly it wasnt cold inside the hotel (unlike outside), with the salt providing great insulation. Had dinner, a few drinks and played music and then went to bed.
Woke up around 9 and left to continue our visit of the regions. This time the white salt desert gave way to brown, creme and red fades of rock and sandy desert. This day we visited the numerous lagoons of the region which all have their distinct fades of either green, turquoise, red, yellow, brown - basically all colours. Furthermore, they were all situated at the bases of massive volcanoes and were populated by flamingoes (3 different types). Some of the lagoons were nearly dry (we are at the end of the dry season and rain is to come) giving way to stretches of 'Salpetre' (in french) - if anybody knows how to say this in English please comment. During this day we started to ahve problems with teh car with one tire giving way (fortunatly we had ONE spae tire) and the starter not working and had to push start the car a good 15 times (which is pretty hard seeing that we were in deep sand and the car wass heavy). At some poitns we also had to get out of the car to continue walking whilst the driver tried to get the car over the various difficulties. Probably the worst thing about the car wasnt the starter or pushing the car but the fact the windows didnt work and with 30C in the shade (and no shade anywhere to be seen - cacti hardly give shade) we were all roasting in the car with the people with teh sun on there side forced to were scarfs over the head and face. To solve this problem we would open the doors as we were dirivng or just plainly ask the driver to stop to go out and get some fresh air. lol. Nevertheless the car worked enough to get us to a rock formation in the middle of the desert were we climbed the rocks to admire the view (I liked this - natural rock climbing in teh middle fo the desert) and finally to our hotel for the night. The hotel was alot less exotic than the salt hotel, but we ate, slept and drank fine. Went to bed early as we had to wake up at 4h30 the next day to start off
Woke up early (hard) to get going. We were the last tourist to elave the campment, got into the car we were all freezing as the temperatures were around -10C. Oli was still in his sleeping bag and I was wearing all my warm clothes but this hardly helped and we were all waiting impatiently for the sun to come out as in the day the temepratures are over 30C in the shade. Got to the geysers after half an hour and waited a good ten minutes but the geysers didnt want to 'geyse'. Fionally decided to leave and as we got into the car and drove off heard a noise and that was the geysers geysin!!!!!!! Unfortunaly only the dutch, who were on the right side of the car manage to see the perforemance. Neverthless continued forwards adn got to some hot sprigns where we were going to have breakfeast and enjoy the baths a bit. Me and oli went strait for the bath as teh temperatures were still under 0 whilst the others waited for breakfeast first (you can tell it was really cold otherwise oli would ahve waited to eat breakfeast first). The outdoor baths were in an amazing decor, with volcanoes all around, the bath waters pouring into a lagoon (with al the various clours associated) and all this set at above 5000m. Had a hard time getting into the baths as my limbs were numb of cold and the water was very hot but one I was in, it was great. We stayed in 45min until breakfesast was called but we decided to stay in longer and it was only after 1 hr of lazing around that the others arrived (having finished breakfeast) and that we slowly decided that we were going to go out and have breakfeast because time was running otu as we had to catch a bus and the border at 9am. All the other tourist cars ahd already left a while back due to this but our guides let us be as we told them we prefered staying here than rushing to see yet another lagoon (part of the tour) before heading for the border. Had a quick breakfeast and then headed off through the desert to teh border. Had to pay for the exit stamp (hadnt planned this and we all ahd to search teh bottom of each pair of pants to find the necessary funds, but finally managed to pay and go into the bus and out of Bolivia, into Chili.