After three days and two nights in the Bolivian national park, home to the famous Salar de Uyuni (The Salt Flats), then a night in Uyuni, the town itself, and a vey very short flight from Uyuni to La Paz (it was all of 25 minutes), we are now in the airport waiting for our flight to Lima and I FINALLY have wifi and so I can blog all about my adventures over the last few days.
At 7.45am we were packed up, layered up, checked out and ready and waiting for our transfer bus to pick us up. This would be the bus that takes us over the Chilean Boarder and drops us at the Bolivan boarder where we enjoyed the classic South American tour breakfast of ham and cheese rolls and moved all of our belongings into two jeeps which would be our tour trucks for the next few days. After clearing the boarders and enjoying some food we set off on our adventure. The roads through the national parks aren’t roads, they’re more like dirt tracks that have been created because the jeeps take the same sort of route, but basically they are extremely bumpy, with rocks and stones, mud and ice and everything else in between as obstacles, making the journey a little bit less smooth and a little more fun
Our first stop was Laguna Blanca (White Lake):
Then Laguna Verde (green lake):
Next we drove through the Desierto de Dali, which is the desert that Salvadore Dali, a famous Spanish artist, visited and painted when he travelled to Bolivia from Andalusia.
Then it was time to swim in the 36 degree thermal pool, right in the middle of the freezing cold desert surrounded by ice paths. It was so nice to be so boiling hot after shivering all morning!
The Geysers were our next stop and while walking around it felt like we were on another planet due to the bizarre surfaces and bubbling sulphur.
The end of day 1 was quite bizarre as we arrived at our lodge for the night around 3.30pm all starving and had a very late lunch. Followed by some cards and chatting over the lunch table before hot tea and biscuits were brought out – such a nice feeling, drinking warm tea when you’re freezing cold! As we’d heard about the minus 25 degree nights at this lodge as we were high up in the mountains, 4900m above sea level, Juliet, our two friends and I, set out at making a warm den like bed for us all to sleep in.
We then had dinner, literally straight after lunch, and went to bed.
It was actually only about minus 12 (as if minus 12 degrees deserves an only before it) and so because of our amazing bed invention we had a warmish but restless (due to basically suffocation with so many layers and blankets) night.
Our first stop today was the Laguna Colorada (Coloured Lake) and here we saw the last moments of the sunrise before all the different colours within the lake appeared.
Next was the Arbol de Pierdra (stone tree) which incredibly does actually look really like a tree! There were also lots of other huge rock formations here.
We then saw the Montanas Coloradas (coloured mountains):
Then the Laguna de Hielo (ice lake), where we could actually (if you were brave enough) walk all the way out to the middle of the lake as the ice was so thick and strong. We even saw a crazy Spanish man take off all his clothes and belly slide across it!
We briefly stopped at the Laguna Honoa so that we could take some pictures of the South American mountain camels (so bizarre, they are basically deer), called Vicuñas.
Our next stop was the Lagunas de Flamingos, where we saw an unbelievable amount of flamingos behind some very random and strangely placed signs.
We then visited an active volcano, Volcan Litcancabar before starting our journey to our second lodge. On our way, we drove across the national railway of Bolivia (that’s no longer in use) and Chile, connecting the two. It was also the only way to get between the two countries.
Our lodge for our second night was actually made out of Salt and with the powdered salt floors and being only 3000m above sea level it was warmer than the night before, but still cold obviously! However I think we all had a much better night’s sleep.
Our first stop of today was the Isla Incahuasi (cactus island), a strange island that just gradually grew in the middle of the salt flats and is filled with cacti! (Also home to a second South American mountain camel – the lama!)
We then FINALLY went right into the middle of the Salt Flats, the real Salar de Uyuni where we spent the rest of the day taking clever photos, eating lunch and enjoying the fact that we were surrounded by nothing but salt! The salt here is actually mined, sold and used and as one of the guys on our tour wandered off into the distance to wee, the two tour guides ran after him shouting no contamination! No contamination!
On the way into Uyuni Town we stopped at another salt hotel, the only one actually in the salt flats, and also at a Cementario de Locomotivos train graveyard, which has been made into a playground! Typical Bolivia neglecting health and safety..
When we arrived in Uyuni, our whole tour group were staying in the same hostel and most of us in the same room! So we all went to a nearby bar to watch the first game of the World Cup, with Brazil playing! The wifi in our hostel wasn’t working which was annoying after being away for three days but we were all so smelly and hungry that all we wanted to do was shower and eat. We went out to a restaurant featured in lonely planet and had a delicious meal, all was good in the smallest and strangest town. That night we were woken up by one of the guys in our room who hadn’t even got to sleep as there was a rat in our room… A RAT – not okay. We could all hear it rustling and those close by could see it! It suddenly ran and jumped into the bin and so we got the hostel owner who came in with a broom and crushed it… Welcome to Bolivia!