Salt, Salt and more Salt
09.07.2010 - 11.07.2010 4 °C
We arrived in Uyuni after a 10 hour bus journey, and wished we´d stayed in Sucre. It was so cold, we slept with 3 blankets, a duvet, in our sleeping bags and were still cold! I don't think they've heard of heaters here!
As soon as we arrived we booked a 3 day tour leaving the next day, of Bolivia's famous salt flats, that would end in the North of Chile. So the next morning we climbed aboard the 4x4 that would be driving us around for the next few days. Our first stop was the 'train cemetry', which is just outside of Uyuni and is basically a group of rusty old steam trains, but was fun to climb all over them. We were happily taking pictures of people lying on what we thought were unused tracks when we spotted something approaching rather rapidly!
Next we drove to a tiny village called Colchani on the edge of the salt flats where the people process and package the salt. Once we'd been given a demonstration we left the road and drove onto the salt itself, the scencery was pretty amazing, like nothing we'd ever seen before.
The salt flats here are the largest in the world, covering over 10,000 sq kilometres so all you can see in every direction is just the flat white layer of salt. It is really beautiful considering there isn't anything there, and also makes for some good photos!
We stopped for lunch at 'fish island', which is an island of rock in the middle of the white salt, and is covered in cacti (some nearly 1000 years old!). After taking a few more funny photos we were off to find the 'salt hotel' that we'd be staying in for the night.
As the name suggests it was made almost entirely of salt (tables, chairs, walls, floors and beds!). It was another chilly night, and when we left in the morning we spotted some washing on the line outside with icicles dangling off of it!
On the second day we drove further South through more stunning scenery, seeing volcanoes, unusual rock formations and multicoloured mountains. We stopped off at lots of half-frozen lakes and spotted some wild Chilean Flamingoes which were really bright pink!
We also spotted an Andean Fox as we were driving along and stopped to feed it some crackers! It was really quite tame for a wild animal.
At the end of the second day we entered the National Park at the border with Chile. We saw the 'Laguna roja' which was a red colour due to the minerals in the water. It was a pretty unreal sight!
After the coldest night so far (because we were higher up than we had been before) we woke up really early to drive to see the geysers at dawn, as this is when they are at the most active. This was yet another amazing sight, but we were unable to appreciate it for long as it was just too cold in the wind to stand outside the car!
We stopped for breakfast at some thermal springs, where we were amazed to see people stripping off their 5 layers of jumpers to take a dip! Alex ventured as far as taking off his socks to paddle his feet in the water that was luke warm at best. Afterwards they all said they felt much warmer than they had before they went in, so maybe it wasn't such a bad idea.
Our last stop before crossing over the border into Chile was the 'Laguna Verde' which was similar to the laguna roja but green instead of red.
It was an amazing 3 days, but we were glad to be on the bus to Chile with our finders crossed that it would be a tad warmer in San Pedro de Atacama!