Uyuni and the Salt Flats

Trip Start Jun 13, 2008
Trip End May 25, 2009

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

OK, so we got that local bus, which was possibly the bumpiest and coldest ride Iīve ever experienced... still, I took my sleeping bag with me so slept pretty much through all of it... We arrived in Uyuni really early in the morning and it was goddamn freeeeezing!

Once again we used our numbers to hunt down the cheapest hostel in town, and did pretty well... Michael and Cherie (Aussie couple) had checked into the same one the night before, and they are pro bargain hunters, so we felt sufficiently smug at having found it on our own ;)

Dan, Neil and Kelly went off to do a one day Salt Flats tour, while Tom and I bought gloves and tried to hunt down the best three day tour... After that there wasnīt really anything to do in Uyuni, except try to keep warm, because it was about -15šc once the sun went down!

The next day we got up and got going... Cherie and Michael ended up booking the same tour as us, so we shared a 4x4 with them and two Dutch girls called Eva and Hilde... Our driver, Emilio, wasnīt exactly chatty... about the only thing I can say about him is that he was a bloody good driver!

So we set off from Uyuni and the first thing we came across was a train graveyard. It was really cool to climb over all the rusty old trains, and one of them is the one that thingy and thingy robbed... ooOOOOHHHhhhh!!

After we set off from there we drove for a while until we hit the salt flats... just masses and masses of white, as far as the eye can see, the biggest slat flats on earth, they are 12,000 square kilimetres. We all had a go jumping around in (and if Iīm honest, licking) the salt and then got back in the van...

Eventually we got to a coral island, which is where we had our first lunch break... The salt flats used to be under water, hence there being coral in the middle of this nothingness... now itīs got a handy little cafe, toilets, a lot of catcae and a man demanding 15 Bolivianos from you, should you wish to walk to the top... which we did! We had lunch back down at the bottom and then spent a while playing around with our cameras...

After setting off from there we reached a salt hotel, which we had a little look around... but it wasnīt too special...! Then, fairly early on the first day, we arrived at another salt hotel, only this one we checked into. It was pretty cool... salt floor, salt bricks, salt furniture... Tom, Cherie, Michael and I climbed to the top of the hill behind the hotel just in time to see the sun go down, which was pretty cool.

That night the electricity went off at 9.30 sharp, but we played cards and drank the thimble of wine they gave us... our whole group plus another van were huddle around the fire trying to keep warm too... We went to bed that night fully clothed, inside our sleeping bags, under the blankets and were toasty warm!!

On day 2 we set off and immediately saw some wild vaconias (?) (I canīt remember what they were called, but they were like deer!!) After that Emilio took us to a small town where we had the option to go into a museum... we opted not to bother, were very entertained by little Jerry outside, who was scoring goals like no-oneīs business!

As we drove on, the landscape changed more and more... we had started off pretty much on the salt flats... having gone through them we were met with sand, and slowly it turned into patches of scrub and rocky passes. All the vegetation had a yellowy-green tinge to it because the earth there is so rich in sulpher... We stopped to look at volacanoes, the rock tree and a number of lagunas... The first had one lonely flamingo on it... I named him Timmy... he was clearly a bit slow... But the next one we came to had loads of them...

Shortly after that we arrived at Laguna Colorada, which is a red lake, coloured that way due to minerals in the water and the wind passing over it... While we were there it was a really deep purpley-red, but apparently, when itīs less frozen, itīs more of a red-red!

The hostel we stayed in that night was even colder, around -20šc we were told... But once again we wrapped up warm, ready to be woken up at 5am!!

After a very quick breakfast we got into the van and were driven for an hour or so to see some geysers spraying up in the early morning... It was pretty cool, but also pretty stiinky, because again, lots and lots of sulpher!

Once again, we drove on for a while and stopped at some natural hot springs... Tom, Eva, Hilde and I braved stripping off in the freezing morning sun and got into the gorgeous hot waters... it was ridiculously good, just not long enough! Getting out again was nowhere near as painful as I had feared, but my hair had turned into icicles at the back!!

After that we visited one more lake, Laguna Verde (the Green Lake), but it wasnīt that green, because again, it was a bit too frozen... it was still beautiful though... we didnīt have much time to look around there though because Emilio was trying to get Tom, Hilde, Eva and I to a bus that would take us over the border to Chile... which he successfully did... cheers Emilio!
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