Amazing Bolivia

Trip Start Dec 26, 2010
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Trip End Jul 01, 2011


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Saturday, February 12, 2011

This is one of the big milestones of our trip - the 3 day trip from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni, Bolivia, in a 4x4. Laura, my cousin, did this trip before and after seeing her pictures and hearing the stories, we knew that this trip would be a must. It was hard finding an agency that had reasonable reviews, and we went with Cordillera Traveller.

We met the other 10 people who were starting the tour at 8 am and we all were driven to the border with Bolivia. There, we had breakfast and then were split in two groups of 6, one group in each Toyota 4x4. There are no roads accrodd this national park - the drivers know the way by experience, so it is a pretty bumpy and crazy ride. We stopped at Laguna Blanca, then Laguna Verde, saw the Dali Rocks, had a quick break at Termas de Polques (at 4,200 meters) and then were introduced to our simple hostel. The 6 of us shared a bedroom, which was simple, but clean and comfortable. After a nap to help with the ponding headache due to the altitude, we went to Laguna Colorada, where we saw thousands of pink flamingos. INCREDIBLE! We then had dinner, which was very very basic (mashed potatos and salad).

In the next day, we visited the Sol de Manana geisers, more rock formations close to Arbol de Piedra and Laguna Negra. The scenary was gorgeous - mountain of 7 colors (due to the different minerals), Volcano Licancabur, more lagoons.... For a while I managed to DJ with my ipod, so we had a break from local bolivian music or 80s disco music, which were favorites of our driver, Richard.

I got really pissed off the second night. Long story.... But the conclusion was that the driver of the other car pissed me off badly with a machista and xenophobic comment. But he couldn't spoil my trip.

Next day, we visited a local market and got to see lots of locals. The women are the most interesting with their big, colorful skirts, their long black double-braided hair and interesting hats. Many of them carrying reall cute babies, usually with messy hair and dirty faces. Still cute!

We then went to the train cemetery, close to Uyuni. The British trains stopped being used about 100 years ago and were left to rust. Their were used in the mines, between Bolivia and Chile. In the Eatable History of Mankind (book), they talked about the exploration of nitrates in the region for producing agriculture fertilizers and how the operation was abandoned overnight due to the discovery of how to extract nitrate from the air! (well, it is more complicated than this).

Then we went for the highlight of the trip - Salar del Uyuni. It was covered with water, which I did not expect at all. But it was still beautiful and we took some cool pictures. Loved it!

The tour ended in Uyuni and a few of us stayed at the same hostel. We left for Potosi the following day, where we went to the mine in Cierro Rico together... More to come.
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