Our 2 night 3 day desert trip

Trip Start Feb 02, 2010
Trip End Oct 26, 2010

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The desert of course

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Sunday, March 28, 2010

After the amazing bus trip from Salta to San Pedro de Atacama we knew that things were only going to get better. We were all looking forward to the trip from San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) to Uyuni (Bolivia). An 8am start & we were only an hour from the Bolivian border where our 4WD & Walter were waiting for us. After the very quick border crossing we were all finally in Bolivia!!! There was a group of 6 on the tour, Lianne, Chris, Verana & Jan (German couple) & the 2 of us. First day involved volcanoes, geysers that were constantly spitting mud, lagoons, hot springs which we all swam in, flamingos & Llama, Llama, Llama. Tour company we went with (Colique Tours) fed us up to the brim & supplied warm accommodation for the first night. We arrived at our nights hostel at about 2pm & after lunch most of us had naps at been at the altitude of 4300 meters a nap was all we were up for. After dinner Chris took a turn for the worse & we all needed to back up our bags & get down to a lower altitude ASAP. We took off at about 9:30 & drove for about 2 1/2 hours (something that Walter told us should take 4 hours) in the desert darkness. All I can say is thank gosh it was dark because he was gunning it down. We all sat very quitely chewing on coca leaves & hoping that all would be fine. We were all secretly hoping to see Pumas however all we saw in the headlights were rabbits. Arrived at another guest house at about midnight & we all did not have any trouble sleeping.

To everyone´s delight Chris was feeling much better in the morning & after a big breakie Walter & the gang were back on the dusty road all with head scarves wrapped around our faces. First stop were the mushrooms rocks (Yes rocks that looked like mushrooms) around a volcanic lake (unfort not warm to swim in) which we all did a bit of exploring. Moved onto a graveyard filled with Inca mummies while it was Verena´s turn to go to the doc´s with altitude sickness. After seeing loads of skulls (some preserved so much they still had skin on their skulls) we tucked into some Llama steaks & some mash. 2nd time round with the meat was even better then our 1st. Bernie ate Verena´s helping. Next stop that night was a hotel owned by the tour company. Once again very warm & Bernie was happy when we clocked the ping pong table. He will not actually play me anymore after I whipped his bottom in Salta, 3-Nil. Spent the arvo learning new card games & playing pigs. Jan was also very kindly after buying us some beers & it did not take long for all  of us to became very rowdy. Drinking at altitude, can now say that Bernie was a cheap date that night. Walter asked us what time we wanted to get up in the morning to travel over the salt flats & into Uyuni & Chris & myself (in our wisdom) convinced all to be on the road (or should I say salt) for 5:30am. I do not even think that they thank us for the rewards. I think after Jan´s snoring I think everyone was still tired so maybe that was why. I think I now know someone who can out snore Bernie. Poor Verana!! However she did offer everyone earplugs so she must be use to it by now.

Early rise & great rewards. In what felts like it is in the middle of nowhere, there was a place called Incahuasi which is a rock in the middle of the salt flats, covered in cactus which we climbed to see sunrise. Was very special how the pink of the sun slowly sprayed over the white of the flats. Next stop was the salt hotel which was perfect place to take silly photos (will understand when we post them) but not interested in the hotel itself. I have been told that they are more about making money then the environment they are in & are destroying it with waste products. We were all excited about our next stop, the train graveyard. Trains that were left in Uyuni to rust away & for sad tourist to have a climb through. Finished the tour at lunch time & with all empty bellies as we all did not eat breakfast the men went in search of money & hostel. Uyuni was a shock for all of us as it was the first Bolivian town that we had been too. All so chilled in the desert & it was like we had been thrown into a crazy world. Every 2 steps you took there were people selling fruit to shampoo to lovely pink tracksuits. Also experienced our first not very nice landlord. We all started to notice that the smiles from the locals faces had disappeared that we were so use to seeing in Chile & Argentina. When looking at their history that have been stolen from by all their neighbors that we ask how they could be trusting of anyone. Bolivia years ago use to have a coastline & was about double the size. Later on we found out that the poverty level for the country is 80%. All these people are just trying to survive & feed their family. Family is the most important thing to them.  I think we are going to learn alot in Bolivia.

First time that I have also know Bernie to have bad guts however he did eat my sandwich & his on the bus trip from Salta to Atacama even though it smelt like vinegar. Bad move!!! Hopefully he will be fine on the bus to Potsi that we have booked as in Bolivia there do not seem to be too many loos on board.
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