Olivia reaches Bolivia

Trip Start Oct 05, 2007
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Trip End Oct 04, 2008


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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Monday, June 2, 2008

To get to Bolivia....or at least somewhere habitable in Bolivia we did a 3 day rattle over the Bolivian dessert and salt flats in the back of a 4x4 accompanied by 2 Scots and a Croat and of course Bolivia - the driver!

We started in San Pedro in a minibus which took us up to 4000m (oh shit hadn´t realised we were going up!) and to the Chile/Bolivia border.  Once we had been let in, our group of 12 were split into 3 4x4s, 5 in 2 and the other 2 in one (they were on the upmarket tour)!  We then bumped our way to a very late and plain breckie overlooking a white lake - presumably from the salt- all details of the trip being a little hazy due to serious language barrier with our guide!

Next stop a stunning green lake, then some rocks that look like Salvatore Dali´s paintings- although hes never made it to this spot....que??!  Time for a bathe in the hot springs....like hell it was....I wasn´ttaking off my first layer of socks let alone the rest of me kit!  Some fumeroles and boiling mud later and we were being given lunch at our final stop for the day.... a collection of bricks that vaguely resembled a building overlooking the bizzare red lake...just to prove how cold it was...there was ice!

After lunch we took a walk round the lake, admiriing the falmingoes and chewing on Coca leaves to try and relieve our headaches (we were now at around 5000m) - sadly to little effect...horribly bitter stuff...much like eating a tea bag I would imagine!

Sundown bought a new meaning to the word frio as we hudddled round an unlit fire (they have somthing against warmth over here) waiting for supper....which was soup thank God, and rather congealed spaghetti (less thankful for that) we were even allowed tea (a privalege that had been denyed us at lunch!)  With warnings that temperatures would drop to -15 and as I was allready  in 6 layers + hat, scarf, gloves and serrong (all my clothes) we all decided the sooner we were tucked up in bed the better, so with all afore mentioned clothes minus shoes, 1 sleeping bag and approximately 6 blankets (we lost count) and still shivering I tried to get to sleep!  This was a fairly futile exercise, not only because of the cold, the headache and the inability to breathe, but because my altitude sickness went to a whole new level as I turned my stomach inside out repeatidly! 

That morning I couldn´t remember the last time I had felt so ill!!  Having to sit in a Toyota as we bumbled along a bolderous track did not make things a whole lot better!

We saw the crators of the moon (we think) and then some more flamingos at which point Croatia fell into the lake whilst trying to get THE SHOT! 

Lunch by a blue lake, I maganed an apple and with all the fresh air was feeling rather better untill Bolivia decided to do a bit of off roading  and took off over the edge of a bolder strewn Cliff for, as he announced half way down, - prima vera, prima vera - the first time!!  A quick stop at a gently smoldering volcano and we were off driving across our first slightly manky looking salt flats!!  To my relief we then arrived at our 2nd overnight stop in a delightful old village overlooking THE salt flats - Salar De Uyuni!  This place was a lot warmer - although by no means warm - it also had ´hot´ showers and electricity between 7 and .....well i´m not sure when it stopped but it wasn´t on at 2.30 when my stomach decided to empty itself again!!  The toilets even had loo seats AND there was a ping pong table....which, of course, made an intercountry match crucial....sorry guys Chile won!!

The next day we were out over the startingly white salt flats to an island covered in Cactai which had a fab view from the top....when I finally got up there....not looking good for Macchu Pichu!!  A short drive later and we were taking the obligatory, very silly, salt flat pictures, then on to our final destinations Uyuni - via the cemetery of trains - a pile fo rusting steam trains... RANDOM!!
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