Uyuni, for the salt flats

Trip Start Sep 30, 2013
1
42
88
Trip End May 31, 2014


Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines
shadow

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Saturday, January 25, 2014

Friday night we took an overnight bus from La Paz leaving 6:30pm which arrived 8am in Uyuni, a god forsaken town in Southern Bolivia. On this bus we could recline to about 30 degrees from horizontal. It was a hot and stuffy and dusty ride, and to use the loo you had to ask the grumpy codriver to open  it and get told (shouted at) "piss solamente". We splashed out and booked a touristica bus back, and were served with a hot meal and a loo that could cope.




After reading reviews on tripadvisor about drunken drivers and vehicles breaking down, we decided on Tupista Tours, *the first and the best*. A 4 wheel drive is mandatory. Paying over the odds we booked a private tour (for just the 3 of us) plus driver (nice and shares his coca leaves) and guide (also cook). We stayed in accommodation providing beds and blankets only and no heating and only a couple of hours of electricity. At over 4,000 metres for much of the 3 days they carry an oxygen tank in case of need. But who needs oxygen when you have coca leaves!




Saturday 25th January

The Salar de Uyuni became a tourist attraction when Neil Armstrong looked down from space and noticed a large white spot on the Earth's surface. Since then people have flocked here to see for themselves, despite the hostile environment and lack of tourist infrastructure. Searching for the words to describe it. Think of vast, white, sparkling, looks icy but warmth emanates. Ice capped mountains all around. See Salar de Uyuni




-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-


In the water under these salt flats lies 43 percent of the world's lithium reserves, so it is a potentially a big  money earner for Bolivia, but extraction has met with fears of exploitation by multinationals and the environmental impact could be severe, so not much is actually happening (which is pretty standard for Bolivia). 







Sunday 26th January

Next day (Sunday) we drove through the Atacama desert and past lagoons of different colours and smells, and chatted about flamingos, llamas (and their wild brothers, the vicuņas, protected by law by the Incas and still today, and no longer an endangered species) and the minerals that make up the colours of the hills and lagoons.




-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-

Is that snow I see on that mountain over there or is it a crust of salt peter. Could those be the crests of waves on that still lake? No, its borax.




The Atacama desert is regarded as the driest place on Earth. The discovery of salt peter, silver and copper in the late 19th century lead to a war between Chile and Bolivia with the result that Bolivia lost its access to the pacific ocean. The international boundaries are still unclear. Copper from the Atacama still accounts for 20% of Chile's GDP. 





Monday 27th January

Day 3 we breakfasted at 5 am so we could go to see the sun rise over more amazingly beautiful lagoons and walk amongst the best area of bubbling lava I have ever seen. We breakfasted on pancakes at 7.30 (turn up at a roadside cafe, pay to use a table and set up camp in their kitchen). By 9.30 we were lounging in a hot spring, snow capped mountains in the background. Happy Monday morning!







Post script.

Toilets rarely have toilet paper, and often no flush. The toilets at our lunch stop were the toilets for the whole village. Imagine what look like army bunkers, made of blocks around 3 sides of a rectangle, about 4 feet high and dug down to about 18 inches, situated on a hillside opposite the houses. You cant be seen as you squat but it came as a bit of a shock as a way of dealing with human waste. Give me open countryside any day!





Slideshow Report as Spam

Comments

Sue on

Amazing!!

Viv Sullivan on

Beautiful amazing scenery!

Add Comment

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: