¨Bolivian Snow¨ and Real Snow in Colorado
Trip Start Mar 17, 2005
124Trip End Mar 13, 2006
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On the other side of the equator Matt was trekking around the Salt Flats in his own landscape that looks just like snow.
While Amy was jet-setting back to the States, I (Matt) was preparing myself for quite a bit of travel to a place we could not visit when we were in Bolivia previously because of the student protests country-wide (refer to our La Paz, Bolivia entries back in December). The Salar de Uyuni is famed to be one of the most crazy landscapes imaginable and I was very excited to try to get to see it by entering Bolivia from Chile.
After my flight from Rio to Santiago I spent one night and then caught a flight the next day up to Calama, Chile followed by a bus to San Pedro de Atacama. You might have heard of the Atacama desert, officially the driest place on earth. Aptly named, San Pedro is right in the middle of it. So, you can imagine my amazement when after showing up on a perfectly normal day in the middle of summer it was raining! Regardless, I was able to find a hostel (which was NOT easy--it`s now high season here) and bunked down in a 5 bed dorm room which included 2 gay boyfriends and a couple other guys that loved to drink and smoke in the room ITSELF about 30 minutes before I was planning to go to sleep. NOT exactly what I had in mind. The next day I started my 4 day tour and was very excited.
DAY 1: Entering Bolivia, Altitude, and amazing Lakes and Thermals
I met my group of people I would be travelling with and they were all extremely nice
After these lakes we started climbing elevation. I mean seriously. We started in San Pedro at around 2500 meters, which itself is fairly high, but all of a sudden we were above 4900 meters. THAT, by the way, is 300 meters above my highest camp below the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and of course we did that on DAY 1!! Needless to say our whole group had SPLITTING HEADACHES later in the evening
DAY 2: Desert-scape
This day was mostly desert type terrain with a lot of wild llamas. Along the way we saw some amazing formations of rock (see pictures) out in the middle of sand with nothing else around. Some of them were said to inspire Salvador Dali`s futuristic painting style. These formations were definitely the highlight of this day, but slyly encouraging Juan to hit HUGE mud-puddles at FULL speed in the Landcruiser proved every bit as fun!! This night we slept in an amazing hotel that was built completely out of salt. I actually had my own room, and we feasted on soup, barbecued chicken, rice and fries.
Day 3: The AMAZING Salar de Uyuni
Now we have seen a lot of amazing places on this trip, and this may become cliche at this point, but seriously the Salar de Uyuni was one of the most unbelievable landscapes I`ve ever seen. It is what is left of a very old salt pan that covered 12,000 square kilometers at one time, and today is still huge. It is an expansive plain of nothing but salt and some isolated ¨islands¨ along the way that provide for some surreal scenes. In Bolivia`s dry season it is blindingly pure white everywhere, but this was the rainy season and the whole thing was filled with 4 inches to one foot of water. What resulted was a place as surreal as I`ve ever been. It was literally impossible to tell the difference between the water and the sky, and the islands literally looked as if they were floating. The salt water was so salty that it instantly caked on you when it dried. We really enjoyed ourselves as we played with our cameras and just ran around the Salar having fun in a place we never could imagine existed. The pictures tell a lot, but it is still so difficult to do the Salar justice with a camera.
Day 4: Back to Chile
This last day was basically just a long drive back to San Pedro to a place where I could clean up, and get ready to meet Amy again down in Santiago.