[Having done the tour and spoken to other people, Pamela Tours is the better option, but that said we had a brilliant time because the group of us (18 in total) got on really well together. You do hear horror stories.]
We took off from San Pedro very early in the morning by bus which climbs almost 4000m above sea level to the Bolivian border, where itīs freezing! From there the group was split into three, and each group of six got into separate jeeps for the long journey to Unyuni. In our jeep there was Miguel our driver, Michael, myself, Emer and Sean from Donegal, Ainara from the Basque Country and Marcus. We visited a green lagoon the first day and took a dip in a thermal pool
. The roads in Bolivia are not paved so one can understand the need for jeeps, very bouncy! Not good for Michaelīs back which was a bit strained after rock climbing and sand boarding. The altitude had us laughing and laughing (apparently one of the effects), better than being sick or getting headaches i guess. We got to the hostel (shed) at about 3.30pm where we had lunch and took a walk to the nearby lake to see some Flamingos. It was so cold. We were all freezing. Many resorted to swigging whiskey on the return to the Hostel as the people running the place wouldnt give hot water for tea or coffee. Each group of six had their own room, so we got everyone gathered in ours (a sneaky way to warm it up) and Michael hosted a game of celebrity head. We were in bed by 10pm - it was -6 degrees Celsius outside and in.
The next day involved alot of driving (for Miguel that is!). There were more lagoons to view and we stopped off in a village on the way to have lunch. A few km before we reached the village we saw a man walking on the road, in the middle of nowhere. Miguel our driver told us he was probably walking to the village from the volcano (a good distance back) for provisions in the village, so asked him to turn around and give him a lift. He had been walking three days and three nights as to bring medicine to his sick uncle who lived at the Volcano. We were all a bit humbled by his presence - the same gang who complained about the cold the night before
. He slept under two blankets at the side of the road. We gave him food and water and took a photo of him, showing it to him on the digital camera which he was really interested in. We dropped him off at his house outside the village. We had a good lunch in that village and continued on travelling by jeep to our next destination. We stopped in a really dead town in the afternoon. The train from Bolivia to Chile runs through it a number of times a week. We met some of the local kids who were full of fun. Ainara was a bit upset by the whole experience. The kids were filthy and were a bit unkempt, they seemed happy enough though. We said goodbye and hit the road again. Got to the Hostel at 5pm and it was like a Palace compared to the night before. We had dinner and there was hot water for a shower for one hour. Grechy just missed out by the time he hopped in, then again, we may as well have been spitting on yourself. It was like a school camp, lights were out at 10.30pm and most people went to bed, apart from a few night owls who got their hands on head torches!
The next morning we went to the Salt Flats. They were class...very salty and well, very flat. Had fun taking photos. Went to a place called cactus island, we found salt mounds and also visited a salt hotel. We got to Uyuni at about 2pm. Miguel brought us to a train cemetry outside the town before he dropped us off. Seven-teen of us headed for the cities of Potosi and Sucre....and so the tour continued!
Going anti clockwise around South America results in many travellers doing a Jeep tour from San Pedro in Chile to Uyuni in Bolivia. Colque tours in San Pedro was recommended to us, costing $90US approx for a tour which took three days and two nights.