4 flats in 3 days
Trip Start Jun 13, 2006
177Trip End Jun 12, 2007
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Where I stayed
HI Salar De Uyuni Youth Hostel
We left for the Salt Flats at about 10 in a dubious looking 4x4, there were 6 of us on the tour; Nicky & David from Malta and Fred & Gilsen who live in Paris. The first stop was the train cemetery, a strip of track cluttered with rusting steam trains, which basically turned into a (slightly dangerous) adult climbing frame. Shortly after leaving we encountered our first flat - a tyre unfortunately. The inner tube had burst and due to issues with the bald looking spare the driver walked back to town to get help. It didn't take long before we were back on the road with just the dubious spare tyre and town no longer within walking distance!
Our second flat was what we came to see the Salt Flats, the first stop being the Playa Blanca Salt Hotel for lunch, it is literally a hotel made of salt, very appropriate. While our lunch was been made (by the driver, cum mechanic, cum chef) we explored the flats a bit more. They are absolutely stunning. Whiteness for miles and miles and then mountains, which, because of some kind of mirage, appear to be floating. After lunch we carried on through the flats for an hour to the Isla de Pescadores, a fertile mound in the middle of the salt flats covered in giant cacti. The views from the top we incredible, white, white and then more white! We continued for another hour to a part where the some of the salt had begun to be removed. Around this part seemed even whiter than the rest and was more crystalline, before it had be softer and made large diamonds on the ground, but this area was different, harder and more salt like really
The second day didn't get off to a good start, Dean and I were both feeling a bit ill, although as the rest of the group were fine and we had eaten exactly the same things we don't know why (no, it was not the wine!). We moved out of the salt flats to see volcān San Juan, which, with its sulphurous sides and moon hanging oddly above it, looked like something out of Star Wars (although Dean couldn't really get a good view from the Jeep which he couldn't face leaving). We continued on to a lagoon with salted edges full of flamingos where we stopped for lunch. We carried on a little way before our 3rd flat, another flat tyre - dubious spare from here on in! We stopped at a few more beautiful lagoons with flamingos an salty edges and traveled through beautiful mountainous desert scenery much of which look like the scenery from Salvador Dali paintings, in fact on part of the desert is named after him! The highlight of the day was the stop at Lago Colorado, a bright red lake, edged with pure white salt and full of complementary pink flamingos with a perfect mountain back drop - wow. Once again Dean just caught a glimpse from inside the jeep. We carried on into the desert to our hotel and an early night.
The final day of our trip started at 4.30am (ugh) and a trip to some hot baths. This sounds more appealing that it was, we were at over 4000m meters above sea level, in a desert with beautiful clear starry nights, which means that although it is in the 30s C during the day it drops to well below 0 C at night
When we finally got back to Uyuni we checked into a nice hotel ($30 a night, aren't we extravagant), showered (bliss), unwisely ate pizza (I still wasn't 100%) and bought our train ticket back to Oruro for the following evening (there are night buses but they weren't running and we aren't too keen on traveling by bus at night here anyway). Unfortunately this meant another day in the hell town of Uyuni!