SALAR DE UYUNI

We left San Pedro on a 3-day tour to Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flats in the world!  We each bought our 6 litre bottles of water (necessary to survive the dry climate) and traded in our last Chilean pesos for Bolivianos before hitting the road.  A quick stop at the customs office to be “stamped out” of Chile and another on “arrival” in Bolivia, a good half hour drive away – still not entirely sure who owns the land in between!Salt Flat Tour_001Salt Flat Tour_003At the Bolivian border we grouped with 4 others, met our driver and piled in to the Toyota Landcruiser, our travel vehicle for the next three days.  Joining us in our car were Sander & Niels, the Dutchmen (Sander who we had met back in Salta) along with Lauren from France and Line from Denmark.Salt Flat Tour_004Salt Flat Tour_011From our very first stop we were taken aback by the beautiful scenery.  Having spent the last four days in the dry Atacama Desert it was quite the contrast suddenly being surrounded by stunning coloured lakes, each unique to the last.Salt Flat Tour_021Salt Flat Tour_016Salt Flat Tour_036We continued on, stopping at some hot thermal springs with yet another incredible backdrop.  The water was the perfect temperature however the cold air outside scared a lot of people off.Salt Flat Tour_040Salt Flat Tour_048Salt Flat Tour_053At the highest elevation of our 3-day trip, we visited another geyser field with large pools of bubbling mud so incredibly hot you wouldn’t dare go too close!  With the altitude making us all feel slightly dizzy, we watched where we stepped and tried to overcome the fear of the ground collapsing below us and becoming mud monsters.Salt Flat Tour_055Salt Flat Tour_066Salt Flat Tour_068Salt Flat Tour_060Having had an early start and perhaps with the altitude we were all quite exhausted from our first day.  We made it to our accommodation for the evening and cuddled up close in bed that night as it was absolutely freezing!  Salt Flat Tour_072Salt Flat Tour_079Salt Flat Tour_073Day Two was what I like to call “Lake Day”, so much so that as amazing as each lake was, by the end of the day, I’d seen enough lakes and flamingoes to last me a lifetime! The lakes we visited were really beautiful though and the flamingoes looked fantastic doing their thing out on the water.  Salt Flat Tour_081Salt Flat Tour_086Salt Flat Tour_098Salt Flat Tour_082Salt Flat Tour_104We drove and drove, enjoying having our iPods plugged in to the stereo rather than the driver’s pan flute cover CDs.  Too bad that my iPod mysteriously “disappeared” from his stereo in the morning…. #%$#@#(*!!!!!!!! Meanwhile, one of the other vehicles picked up some locals and with no room in the car, they settled in on top.  Salt Flat Tour_125Salt Flat Tour_128We drove through the ‘Dali Desert’ named as the landscape mimics a Salvador Dali painting and also stopped at a set of rock formations created as a result of wind erosion.  Will had a quick stop at the bathroom while we took photos of the ‘Tree Rock”.Salt Flat Tour_122Salt Flat Tour_110 Salt Flat Tour_115Our lunch stop overlooked another beautiful lake and we harrassed the flamingoes for the perfect photo.  With the mountains in the background there were some amazing reflections on the water and we sat back enjoying the view.Salt Flat Tour_139Salt Flat Tour_190Salt Flat Tour_153The terrain changed as we continued and we passed various snow covered mountains before stopping at some train tracks out in the middle of nowhere and being rebels lying on the tracks.Salt Flat Tour_195Salt Flat Tour_203Salt Flat Tour_210Salt Flat Tour_219Salt Flat Tour_223After a long day driving, we arrived at our second night’s accommodation which was something slightly different – a hotel made completely out of salt!  The walls, roof, chairs, table, bed frames – basically EVERY part of the building, even the floor was covered in salt!  Unfortunately, it’s not edible so we couldn’t add it to our llama steaks and fries that night!Salt Flat Tour_224Salt Flat Tour_225Salt Flat Tour_229We were up at 4:00am on our last morning in order to make it to the salt flats by sunrise.  Walking outside our hotel, the sky was incredible – I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many stars!  We drove in the dark and as we reached the salt flats our driver even turned his lights off!  With nothing but white salt under us it was incredible how much the reflection allowed us to see.  We reached a point on the salt flats and stopped to watch the sunrise.  Stepping outside the car it was freezing and with the salt crunching under our feet you could be mistaken for thinking we were at the snow.Salt Lake Tourxx_002Salt Flat Tour_254Salt Flat Tour_253Salt Flat Tour_261Salt Flat Tour_246We warmed up slightly and as the sun continued to rise, we drove on to our breakfast spot – Isla Incahuasi, a bizarrely located island (in the middle of the salt flats) covered in giant cacti, some over 900 years old!  We explored the island which is actually the top of the remains of an ancient volcano which was submerged when the area was a huge prehistoric lake (roughly 40,000 years ago).  Today it is covered in what appears to be fossilised coral structures along with the incredible cacti which we couldn’t miss the opportunity to give a big hug!  Salt Flat Tour_267Salt Flat Tour_279Salt Flat Tour_282Salt Flat Tour_293One of the things we had been looking forward to on the salt flats was taking various perspective photos where due to the white salt ground you can make things look giant or miniature just by moving away from the camera.  Unfortunately for us, no one seemed to be able to use our camera and therefore we didn’t really get any good ones at all! Salt Flat Tour_304Salt Flat Tour_308Salt Flat Tour_310After time spent taking photos we continued on, passing another salt hotel, mounds of salt, a small village along with herds of llamas before we arrived in Uyuni.  Driving in to Uyuni we were astonished at the ridiculous amount of garbage around the town.  Everywhere you looked there were plastic bags covering the ground and it made us all feel quite uneasy as we approached the main streets.Salt Flat Tour_322Salt Flat Tour_325Salt Flat Tour_327Salt Flat Tour_335We drove through the town to the outskirts of Uyuni to a train graveyard (Will thought I had typed gravy-yard… hilarious!), a result of the mining industry collapse in the 1940’s.  Hundreds of train carriages and pieces of machinery lie rusted and abandoned which is quite eerie to walk through. Salt Flat Tour_338Salt Flat Tour_345Salt Flat Tour_351Salt Flat Tour_352After a swing or two on the rusted trains we settled in to a $3 room in a local hotel – Welcome to Bolivia!

5 thoughts on “SALAR DE UYUNI

  1. Bryce Perigo says:

    UN-REAL guys, I’m so jealous, your trip looks amazing so far. Cant wait to catch up, inspires me to book the next trip. Hopefully talk soon! yewwww

  2. Graza says:

    Great photos all round guy’s. Great story telling Karl, keep it up! Love the mirror mountain and sole flamingo!!!! Awesomeeeee!!! Graza

  3. Therie says:

    Salar de Uyuni looks extraordinary! I’ve wanted to travel there for so long, but I’m not sure if I can handle the altitude sickness. Wonderful photos, love them!

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