Salar de Uyuni to the Chilean border

Trip Start Jun 26, 2006
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Trip End Feb 28, 2007


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Sunday, January 14, 2007

 Hi folks....another day another story to tell....only not sure how im gonna describe what we saw! Not really something you can put into words....but hey ill try!

We got up surprisingly late considering we off on a tour.....got breakfast....again not great...bought our 3 days supply of toilet paper and water....and then hung around waiting to go! We set off about 11am, with our driver and his wife....our cook. The jeep was pretty cool and looked in good nick...but it was kinda cramped in the back....where the girlies ended up! Still it was all fun.....we bounced and shook along to a small town in the middle of nowhere. Now to most people this would have looked like a ghost town, but when you been in Latin America as long as we have you know better! It was in fact a salt manufacturing town! They collected the salt from the salt flats and processed it in a very simple way...not sure it would pass european standards, but it seemed good enough for them! They dried it in huge ovens......then dumped it on the ground....used some archaic machine to add iodine.....then the women scooped it into 1kg (ish) bags! Was certainly interesting to see where the salt we were eating came from! Then it was time to drive to the actual salt flats....now at this time of year they are flooded.....covered with several inches of water.....which make them even cooler. We drove in our jeep through the water....for quite a way.....it was all so impressive cause the mountains and sky are reflected in the water.....perfectly.....making the mountains appear as if they are floating! We stopped after a while and were allowed out.....but we had to take our shoes off!! Was a little odd, but quite pleasant as the water was warm. We played about taking photos...the reflections and light make for some great photos! Then we got back in and drove further to the salt hotel.....a very strange place.....made etirely out of salt bricks.....even the beds and tables and chairs! Was kinda cool to see.....took some pics in exchange for buying some chocolate then it was time to head back! Was quite a long way, but the scenery made it worth it! Back at the town, his wife had prepared lunch for us.....we ate sat at tables and chairs made of salt....and it was good too....beef, salad and quinous. After lunch it started to rain....and never really stopped! We drove for hours through the desert....in the rain....was a pretty boring drive to be honest.....but hey it beats a bus as a way to chile! We were asked if we wanted to stop at some silver mining town.....but as there seemed to be little to see and it was raining, we chose not to! Eventually we arrived at the town we were gonna stay at for the night. We were just pulling into the town, where the main road was flooded when we had a slight mishap! Our driver, having been so careful till then, didnt see the huge speed bump in the middle of a huge puddle, and went flying over it.....sending us girls in the back flying into the air!!!! I hit the roof of the car and the air vent....and man did it hurt! Ended up with a bruised head and sore back and shoulders....still it could have been a lot worse and our driver was so apologetic!! He drove so slowly after that!
Anyway bruised and battered(!!!!), we had made it to our first nights sleep. The place looked like an interesting town....one street....and the place we were staying looked even more interesting! Still our driver did manage to blag us the best dorm room, with beds that were actual intact! The toilets were something else! We thought the toilets in Bolivia in general were bad but these were worse! They were the usual no flush...have to get a bucket of water and pour it down the toilet.....no toilet seat scenario....but this time grimier and more basic than elsewhere! Oh well!! We then spent the rest of the evening playing cards...a new israeli game....the Dutch taught us....mainly in the dark till they eventually turned on the generator...and enjoyed good food......amazing mash and beefsteak, oh and yummy soup first! Was a very enjoyable day....if my head did hurt a little!

The next day we were up early for brekkie, brekkie was yummy puffy pancake like things, eggs and jam. Then it was straight off in the jeep again on the insane bumpy roads..........well the dirt actually!  We were treated before we left to amaxing views of the snow caps all around the tiny town we were staying in.  The first amazing scenery we came across were these rocky outcrops with more snow caps in the distance.  We took our pics and headed on.  Shorty after the gals all needed wees so we stopped again so they could go running off into the bushes, bare their arses and get some relief!!!!!  Then off again, that was pretty much how the day went, we stopped, took pics, weeed lots and carried on. There were however a few stories to tell.  The lunch was amazing.  We sat on little rocks and had salad freshly prepared in the desert, our guide made a makeshift table and we had a odd little pasta salad and pork picnic.  And then we were off............ The flamingos at the lake were amazing, three kinds, even had white ones which weŽd never seen before.  The gals had a row with the toilet women cos she was ripping us off 5 bolivianos to use her minging toilet.  The lakes were beautiful, with reflections of all the snow capped moutains in the water.  We eventually got to where we were going, an amazing red lake and a minging shack on the edge which was to be our base.  It is without doubt the worst place wed stayed but the lake was beautiful. I mean the toilets not only lacked the usual seats and paper that is the bolivian norm.......they didnt even hgave any water......anywhere  We walked up to a nearby hill where we had cool views of the lake, flimingoes and the volcanoes.  It was very windy and cold, not surprising as we were at 4300m.  The day ended suitably with chicken rice and fries.......   oh and minging bolivian wine........ promise me you will never go there, iŽd rather drink chicken pee!!!!  suitable as it was to be our last night in the andes.
The next day.....we had to be up at 4am! Now what kind of time is that? Our driver said we had to be off early, and that we needed to see sunrise. We didnt go to bed too early either....were all tucked up for the night, when our driver came in asking to borrow a torch as he had lost his keys! Cracked us up something rotten, fortunately he found them again! So when it was 4am, everyone did NOT want to get up. Still we somehow managed tro drag ourselves out of bed and into the jeep in the dark. Drove through the desert as the sun came up...was quite cool seeing the mountains silouhetted in the background. We kep`t driving for ages...was kinda freaky in the dark...watching all the other jeeps appearing out of the dark! Just as it was properly light we arrived at the geysers....a huge area of smoking geysers....looked really cool.....couldnt believe it when we were able to walk right up to it, through the middle of all the bubbling mud! Was cool though....if insanely dangerous! When we had had our fill of taking photos...and nearly falling into pools of hot stuff....we moved on....to the hot springs. Only problem was it was freezing. We were now at 5000m....the highest i have ever been in my life....above the snow level.....and damn was it cold. The ground was frozen and so were my hands and feet! When we reached the outdoor hotspring.....i couldnt bring myself to strip to my bikini.....stand in a bikini in freezing temperatures...how mad is that? The others in our group did just that.....they definately had screws loose. They said the water was amazing but i didnt fancy being them when they had to get out again. I put my hand in and that was now freezing! we went to find the banos and left them to it. They reckoned when they got out that it wasnt that cold....well maybe not....but i wasnt gonna riskit to find out...we had done plenty of hot springs in the USA, and they were all nice and warm!!! That done we had a quick breakfast in the backof the jeep, bread and coffee....then we drove to Chile! On the way stopped at Lake Verde....an amazing green coloured lake....that changed colour as we watched...with more flamingos....was really beautiful....even got a glimpse of the snow capped volcano behind the lake as the coulds cleared. It was amazingly beautiful....got to enjoy it for a while...then it was time to find Chile.....
We arrived at the border, got our stamps to leave and said our sad good byes to everyone....all european style kisses! We then waited for the bus to take us to better places....the scenery may be amazing in Bolivia but we were glad to be moving on. Had an amazing tour tho....thanks Andrea tours.

 
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Comments

volcan
volcan on

The Salar de Uyuni
The Salar de Uyuni is a fantastic place. Would you believe it, this white spot could be seen from the Moon by the American astronauts! I visited it in February two years ago. The weather was very fine and driving on the salt polygons was great! There are even 'islands' on this sea of salt. In particular, Incahuasi (The Inca's House) conceals some of the most beautiful cacti I've ever seen on earth.
Let's hope the Bolivians will know how to keep the beauty of the site. For one thing, the mining of salt on the Salar is no longer cost-effective and is likely to stop in the short term. Besides, one should know there are huge reserves of lithium under the Bolivian salars. Let's hope the United States -which already holds interests in the South American mines - will not be tempted to touch this forbidden fruit....
I was in Chile and Bolivia to study some of the volcanoes in the Andes. If you are interested in volcanoes; just have a look at my weblog (written in English and French):
http://volcans.blogs-de-voyage.fr
All the best,
Claude Grandpey (from France)

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