The Salt Flats of Bolivia

Trip Start Sep 07, 2010
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Trip End Aug 13, 2011


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Flag of Bolivia  , Potosí,
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jess: Wednesday

The lady at the Hostel Hama nicely gave is a discount on the second night and we were kinda sad to be leaving Chile, especially as we hadn't really seen much of it but the road was calling and there still is a lot to see.
The bus collected us at 7.30 (we’re getting used to the early mornings now) and then proceeded to pick up the other people coming to Bolivia and the Salt Flats with us. Unfortunately for us they are all Brazilian and didn’t speak much English, then luckily a couple that we had met on the Chilean tour was coming to and they spoke English.
We really are great full for them coming, George is Chilean and Tatiana is Brazilian so not only were they able to translate our non English speaking guide but we are also learning some Portuguese words.

After being stamped out of Chile the Bolivian border/immigration was only 1 hour away along a dirt road.
None of our bags were checked and we were told by our guide that you can bring anything into Bolivia (inc drugs, guns) as they don’t care but if they did find something on you a bribe would be required.

Some of the first day tour highlights were -

*The Blanco lagoon & Turquoise lagoon
*Amazing rock formations
*Mountain & volcano views
* Steam geysers that also output sulfur (making it even harder to breath)
*Thermal hotsprings that were 40 degs so of course we had to go bathing
*Lots of flamingos
*Vicunas (Llama looking animals)



The hostel was pretty basic, 7 beds to a room and then a concrete cafeteria like common room & no shower however as the hostel was  50000m+ meters above sea level we all found ourselves sufferings from extreme altitude sickness. Dizziness, nausea and exceptionally bad headaches.
Coca tea and a healthy (finally) dinner of vegetable soup, vego bolognaise as well as fruit salad helped so we challenged the Brazilians to Uno.

We were told the night was going to be cold, it was freezing(-20degrees or colder outside and down to 5 degrees approx in the rooms). There were plenty of blankets on the bed but I still slept in my thermals & silk liner, Rob on the other hand was still cold and so helped himself to some more blankets off the spare beds.
The next morning everyone (inc me) woke up with pretty bad headaches so we were more than happy to leave!

Thursday

The headaches started to alleviate as we descended in altitude, there wasn’t a lot to see on todays trip as it was more rugged terrain but we still got to see more lagoons (with more flamingos) aswell as some funky rock formations.
For lunch we stopped at a small town which had an Incan burial cemetery. It was actually pretty interesting. They had chiseled into circular rocks and placed the bodies inside, it was pretty cool how you could see into them and view the skeletons and the pots/tools they were buried with.

After lunch it was just more driving through the desert to our 2nd and last nights accommodation which we were hoping was going to be better than the previous nights.
We were happily and pleasantly surprised!
The hostel is mainly made out of Salt. The tables tops and doors are made out of wood but the stools, walls and floor is made entirely out of salt.
And for $10Bolivianos (approx $2 AUD) we could have a hot shower!!



Friday
We all decided to get up early at 4.45am so we could have breakfast and see the sunrise from the Salt flats, a decision well worth it.
Luckily it wasnt as cold on the flats as it was in Salta but we were still wearing thermals.

After the sunrise we visited the cactus island which is just a small island in the middle of the flats that is covered in cactus, pretty random really but nice.

After the salt flats it was onto our final destination Uyuni, Boliva, lucky we decied not to stay in Uyuni as it is a pretty shit town but the 6 hour bus trip to Potosi really wasnt much better.
 
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