In Bolivia & those white piles of powder are salt

Trip Start Dec 21, 2009
Trip End Jul 17, 2010

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Sunday, April 25, 2010

We came down a little more in altitude to the town of Uyuni where the main activity here is for daytrips out to the salt flats. Uyuni is the gateway to the world's largest salt flats, which is nearly 12,000 square kilometres at a altitude of just over 3.6kms above sea level. From Uyuni, most daytrips leave in four wheel drive jeeps with a stop at the Cemeterio de Trenes where old locomotives sit, waiting for tourists to climb all over them for photo opportunities. Of course, we didn’t miss the chance to re-enact movie fight scenes. Then it was off to see how salt is baked to get rid of the water in it and packaged. It’s a hard life, lots of salt processed for not much profit.

The most important thing about going to the salt flats is to be sure that you have sun glasses because the people who work on the salt flats regularly have eye problems from the glare that bounces off the white salt. The hostel we were staying at has a program for tourists to donate their sunglasses to the guys who work on the salt flats.

We gun our jeeps through the salt flats, our convoy heading in the same general direction towards nothingness. A few minutes later, we all stop and gather around some watering hole or some other feature. We all go the same direction but each driver takes his own line and it’s also hard to tell how fast they are actually travelling with nothing around us.

The popular activity on the salt flats is to take pictures that are grossly out of proportion. Here’s where you can get imaginative and have a Godzilla figurine attacking you or people fitting in the palm of someone’s hand. This is made possible by the endless expanse of white and little else in the shot to show scale. You’ve just got to make sure that your positioning is spot on and that your camera is set to take pictures with a high depth of field. We also discovered later on that the pictures work well when the person who is out of proportion is bisecting the horizon. When they work, the pictures look great but what they don’t tell you is how patient you have to be or how sore your neck gets from lying on the salt trying to position the camera just right. We all had a great time though and we were all pretty happy with the pictures that we got. For a laugh, I have included some of the outtakes that won’t be making the mantelpiece anytime soon. I won’t name names but whoever took the pictures should be good sports about me putting them up here.

A brief pause to watch a magnificent sun set then we were heading back to the Hotel Tonito, our accommodation for the night. This hotel gets a mention by name because of the pizza restaurant – Minuteman Pizza out the back which is famous for making great pizza. It’s run by Chris, a North American guy and his wife. Nic had a llama pesto pizza and I had the dial 911 heartstopper which was meat with more meat. Just how I like it. Nic followed that up with some brownie and we retired to bed after getting plenty of sun and experiencing a wonder of nature.

In our next blog, we hit the small mining town of Potosi and get to La Paz where plenty happens. We catch up with our friends Paul and Bec, ride down the Death Road in shocking conditions and walk out of one of the most incompetent restaurants ever. You know it’s got to be bad if I leave a restaurant hungry.
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G on

ha - familiar photos. Cringy but fun.

travellingtans on

Yeah, cheesy. But when else will we ever get to act out a train roof fight right?

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