Salt flats, colourful lakes and flamingoes

Trip Start Aug 23, 2010
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Trip End Sep 21, 2010


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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Sunday, September 5, 2010

Chris arrived (far too early) the next morning, and after realising altitude sickness really isnt that bad we decided to go to Uyuni in south Bolivia that night. Bus there was uneventful, freezing cold in the middle of the night and if you looked out of the window there was nothing, in the dark it was just pure black.

Uyuni itself is really just a tourist town now for people starting and ending Salar de Uyuni and Sud Lipez tours. We decided to take the most common 3 day tour which cost around $80 and took in some villages, numerous lakes and also the slat flats which the are the largest in the world and what the region is most famous for.

The first day was a lot of driving in a jeep; the 4 of us, and a couple from the USA. The higlight was at the end when we arrived at Laguna Colorada, a red lake due to the algae in it and inhabited by flamingoes. I was feeling a bit rough by now and the temperature was surely below freezing, and was lucky the place we were staying was close by. It wasnt much warmer inside and even a few cups of tea and soup didnt really warm us up much. We did bring 2 bottles of rum from La Paz which were shared around and we ended up having an incredibly righteous conversation about the state of the world with the Americans.

The next day i felt like shit all day (not cause of the rum, I didnt drink very much), but i kept going from shivering, not being warm enough with 4 layers and a sleeping bag around me in the jeep, to feeling like i was burning. Add this to a headache and i didnt enjoy the second day too much, but a lot of the scenery was incredible as we drove through a desert seeing all these rock formations, volcanoes and lakes, flamingoes, vicuņas and llamas.

For much better photos than mine of this trip see http://www.flickr.com/photos/53309875@N08/

The third day we drove from the hostel, much better than the one night before, (everything from the beds to the walls was made of salt). Luckily we left just before sunrise, which we saw as we made our way across the salt flats themselves. For miles everything is white with no sense of perspective. Its almost as if you are travelling over water, the horizon is so flat. After an hour or so we got to the only island in the middle of the flats, the Isla de Pescado (not sure what it has no do with fish) where there are huge 10m high cacti, we climbed to the top where you can get awesome views over the whiteness with mountains circling the edge.

Later that day we visitied a salt hotel and where locals mine the salt (runining their piles by standing on them). Then as we had time to spare we then saw one of the strangest thing ive ever seen. The guide kept saying 'mummies' on the way there and we didnt understand. It turned out to be some perfectly preserved human skeletons in a cave which had beer and coca leaves, ciggarettes and money, left all around them and in their hands and eyes. Presumably people have left these to help them in the afterlife. The guide said they were Incas, which would mean they had been preserved for 400-500 years...pretty amazing.
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