Salar de Uyuni

Trip Start Mar 01, 2008
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Trip End Feb 28, 2009


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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Monday, May 19, 2008

Friday morning and we were off for the Salar with our trail buddies: A compatriot lad and two fine English lasses - should be a good crew for the voyage in a land cruiser for four days. Our mild mannered cook and equally tempered driver settled in and we were off into the untameable, barren regions of Bolivia`s SW.
Motored up into the mountains with spectacular needle-like geo forms reaching up into the early 4000m - this is the Quebrada de Palala. Passed through El Sillar and the first hitch - minor - flat tyre, no probs, change to spare, off we go.
Feed of shredded llama meat with some of the starch family of foodstuffs - a fit lunch consumed in a paddock filled with the woolly, long necked locals (hope none were acquainted).
Second flat occurred in a rather picturesque high plateau. Patch job. The way the cook leapt onto the wheel to assist tyre removal suggested that this was routine. 1st night spent at 4000-odd metres. Arrived at night, ate well, slept even better.
The next day saw the first of what was to be six unscheduled stops as the vehicle's electrical system decided to renounce a number of its obligations, including that of fuel pump command. Each time the hood was lifted a semi-circular dance around the engine in a clockwise direction ensued. This was usually followed by the action of selectively disembowelling the car ,as a number of the rear, mechanical components were removed and subsequently replaced after some deliberation. The final act was commonly a swift kick to the cruiser`s nether regions, and for the most part we were set to go for a few hours.
During these times of tinkering we managed to soak in some of the most unique scenery on the planet. Ancient peaks splashed with the colours of many an ore, high altitude lakes steeped in varied chemical hues, barren plains washed with icy winds, boiling geysers spewing sulphide stench at 5000m, ice crystalline mornings, searing midday sun and the odd fluffy llama.
The highlight - the Salar itself. Somewhere well into the minuses - frosty, nailbiting morning we watched the sun rise over a vast white flatness. The early rays surreal on the mass of salt crusted in a myriad of geometric shapes. All this 2D with perspective lost meant fun photos aplenty and many a laugh with new found friends. We`d also become well acquainted with the other 4x4 team, who`d assisted us on our last leg the previous evening through the moonlit badlands with a short length of towrope and some well aimed verbal abuse. Good times!
We headed to Uyuni that afternoon, after visiting an ancient coral island now overgrown with 1000 year old cacti, in blinding sunlight. A number of good memories and travel tales stashed neatly under our armpits.
 
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