Another world!

Trip Start Nov 01, 2006
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52
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Trip End Jun 10, 2007


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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Friday, April 27, 2007

Ayuni is just a desert town, but at an altitude of 4,000 metres above sea level, and beyond here are the salt flats, which are between 4,000 and 5,000 metres high. The landscape is the weirdest and most hostile I have ever encountered. It is not like earth at all!

We spent three days in a 4x4 with four Israelis driving through the landscape that inspired Salvador Daliīs paintings of multi-coloured mountains and rocks. Nothing was normal, the salt flats looked just like snow, and everything was pure white with crystal blue skies, no trees, just rock formations sculptured by the wind to look like trees (and also Homer Simpson), and 25ft high cacti. We saw multi-coloured green and pink toxic lakes with pink flamingos feeding on the pink algae, and massive volcanoes and guisers bubbling away at 200 degrees. These enormous pot holes of molten rock were surrounded by a hot and thick layer of steam, making them invisible at times.  We could easily have fallen in.

During the day it is both burning hot from the sun, and freezing cold from the wind. Breathing and moving at 5,000 metres was not easy and at times everyone was quiet, nursing headaches, colds and battling with the temperatures. I consumed two packets of asprin and everyone was caked in a film of dust and sand.

On the first night we stayed in an hotel entirely made of salt, including tables and chairs, beds, decorations and bricks. The second night we slept at about 4,500 metres and even with all my clothes on, a hat, six blankets and a sleeping bag I was still freezing. We were up at 4am the next day and I didnīt actually defrost until 8am when we swam in some hot springs from the volcanoes - 37 degrees of glorious heat!

This is really the oddest, and most vividly beautiful place I have ever seen. Back in Ayuni after a quick pizza we took the night train to the boarder and then a day bus to Argentina only thinking about one thing, steak...

Emma
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