Snow on the Salt Flats

Trip Start Aug 02, 2009
Trip End Feb 18, 2010

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Sunday, September 6, 2009

After a 6 hour bus journey we arrived in Uyuni... there really isnīt much here apart from the start of the salt flat tours. We headed straight to our hostel and then out for a meal. Mine was meant to be chicken and chips but the chicken seemed to have been replaced by egg! We didnīt stay long as it was pretty cold... it's quite random watching everyone eating in coats, scarves ands hats.

It the morning we couldnīt have showers or breakfast at the hostel as the pipes had frozen! We had breakfast at the local cafe... outside... it's quite warm in the sun but freezing in the shade and at night. When we returned to the hostel the woman asked if we minded extending our Salt Flat trip by a day as they hadnīt got enough people... as it wasnīt going to cost any extra we agreed.

After a bit of a wait we headed off in our 4 by 4 with Eddy the driver, a couple from New Zealand and enough eggs to last a life time.

Our first stop was the Train Cemetery, just outside Uyuni. It's basically a load of old rusty steam trains which have been dumped in a heap, however it was quite fun climbing on them and making stupid train noises! Next we drove to a small village to look at some local crafts (mainly tat but the woolly socks and hats come in handy in the cold). We also went in a small house where someone had carved a giant Llama from salt. Finally we headed to the actual salt flats.... they are huge, bright white and the salt forms hexagon shapes that stretch for miles.

We saw how they extract salt from the flats.... with a shovel! We also visited one of the illegal salt hotels. It was closed but we could see through the window, everything was made from salt including the walls, chairs and a pretty impressive grandfather clock. We had lunch outside, then took some cool photos on the salt flats.

As our trip was extended to three nights our next stop was a volcano on the edge of the flats. We checked into our salt hostel and then took a short walk to the lagoon to watch the flamingoes feeding. I sat on a rock.... which was a mistake as I ended up with a wet, salty bum!! I only had one pair of trousers for the trip!!

The following day we walked part way up the volcano to see some mummies in a cave. The walk nearly killed me, so I didn`t go any further. Jon climbed further up to see the crater a bit closer and views over the salt flats. Following this we headed out in the 4 by 4 to an island in the salt flats which is covered in Cacti. They are massive, some of them 12m high... ours should be that big when we get home if mum looks after them properly!! More photos on the salt flats followed, before moving on to our evening accomodation. We had a look at some more mummies this time in stone built tombs and then watched the sunset. The accomodation was very basic but we did manage to get a much needed shower.

Day three can be summed up in three words.... Lagoons, Flamingoes and COLD! It was so windy every time we got out the 4 by 4 we were nearly blown over, but the lakes were worth it. The minerals in the mountains have changed them all different colours... we saw a red lake, a green one, a blue one and a white one.... all the flamingoes were still pink though!

The final night's accomodation was a shared dorm... not ideal but we coped. It was however the coldest I have ever been, we slept in most of our clothes, sleeping bags and blankets but it was still freezing. I was quite glad to get up at 4 the next morning!

The early start on the final day meant we reached the geysers just as it was getting light... it was way too cold to get out of the car for a closer look, however Jon couldn`t resist. I was bit worried he was getting too close and might fall in... but I still couldn`t get out the car! Next we headed to the hot springs to watch the sunrise over another lagoon. It was really beautiful but still freezing... some crazy people did venture into the springs but had a nightmare getting out and changed in the open air with the wind blowing dust everywhere.

Our final stop was another lagoon, before we headed over the Bolivia - Chile border.... at this point it started to snow and the 4 by 4 broke down!! Luckily a nice mini bus arrived to transfer us to the much warmer San Pedro.

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