Hello from Bolivia where I just returned from a 3 day trip to Uyuni. The highlight of this tour being the Salar de Uyuni, which is the world’s largest salt flat (around 10 500 sq km). It is covered by a few meters of salt crust and has been formed as a result of transformation between several prehistoric lakes. It is located around 3600 meters above sea level (11 900 feet). This information is from Wikipedia where you can read up more about it.
The tour started from San Pedro de Atacama. A van brought us to the border where we got divided into two groups (a European group and a Latino group). I was lucky to get a bunch of great people that made the whole trip much more fun. Lots of singing and laughter in the jeep and also during the meals and in the evenings when we met up with the Latino group.
After the border crossing on 4000 meters (where we all got warmer clothes out since it was really cold) we visited several lagoons, all named by the color of the water (Laguna Verde, Laguna Blanca, Laguna Colorado). All very pretty, especially the latter one where the water is red and that is home of hundreds of flamingos. We also stopped at a geothermal field with geysers and mud pools. It’s sulfurous smell reminded me of Iceland. The drive took us through lots of nice and colorful countryside that changed a lot and never got boring. The night we spend at an old estancia (farm). It was very basic and no one told me that we had to bring our own toilet paper… Luckily the others had brought enough for me too. IT got quite cold after sunset but they provided lots of warm and cozy blankets which I wrapped around my body and squeezed into my sleeping bag. I woke up in the middle of the night sweating. Due to the high altitude I woke up like seven times having to catch breath because I felt like suffocating.
The next day I was pretty excited about seeing the rock tree (a geological feature called ventifact, where the bottom part of the rock gets eroded by sand transported by winds). Our tour took an alternative route though that didn’t pass the tree. Instead we stopped at the so called “Cupo del Mundo” that is a ventifact too and shaped like the World Cup. We also visited the “Ciudad des Piedras” – the city of rocks where we climbed up to the top that gave us some great views. Last but not least we saw a camel shaped rock that I also climbed which was quite steep and exhausting in the altitude and I needed some help – but I made it. The rest of the day was spent stopping every now and then where we saw lamas and where we could witness lots of lama sex (Jesus, no wonder there are so many of them). This night we spent at one of the many salt hotels – completely built of salt. It looked very nice and fancy, the dinner was excellent too and we even got some Bolivian red wine which I found stunningly tasty. Very light, fruity and not dry at all. During the night I only woke up twice to catch my breath…
It has been a short night since we wanted to watch the sunrise over the Salar de Uyuni. We almost missed it due to a flat tire that had to be sorted out but made it just in time to see all the amazing colors reflecting on the salt flat (that is partly filled with rain water). It was one of the nicest sun rises I have ever seen. They gave us a lot of time to admire it, take awesome photos and check it all out. Once the sun was out we drove to a dry part, set out tables and chairs and had breakfast. We took more pics (because the flat is so wide without any scale you can take fun pics where people appear in different sizes). They also took cool videos of us where we seemingly dance out of a box of Pringles. Great fun even though I am a bad dancer that looks even worse surround by all those great Latino dancers).
Before the tour ended in Uyuni we stopped at a train cemetery that looked a bit shady – a great place for a fashion photo shoot though. The town of Uyuni itself is not really amazing. Me and some people I met on the tour went out to get cash, a phone card (which was relatively easy and cheap compared to other countries) and went through the market. There are lots and lots (and lots) of cute elderly women that sell fruits, veggies… everything really. They are funny, the make jokes when you buy stuff. They are always smiling and friendly. I love it.