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Uyuni Salt Flats tour

Uyuni, Bolivia

So it was bye-bye San Pedro after a couple of days chilling and an extra hour in bed as the clocks finally went back....it's been a bit confusing ! We boarded the crowded bus and headed off up into the Andes past huge 5000m+ volcanoes as the desert town disappeared below us. The border crossing into Bolivia was a somewhat casual affair, a taste of things to come....and before we knew it it was country number 3 in South America. The other passengers on the bus were soon put into groups by the 'tour guides' and off they went leaving us, Will and 4 others sort of stranded at the border ! Not to worry, they all headed off in jeeps but we were soon shown to our luxury transportation... a rather large bus with plenty of room for us to spread out in. This lasted about 15 minutes when we met up with another jeep driver and were soon cramped into his 30 year old Toyota Land Cruiser. As we set off it was clear that this vehicle had made this bumpy trip many times....the suspension was knackered ! Nevermind, only 3 days to go...We soon arrived at our first destination, 'The Green Lagoon', at 5000m above sea level it was stunning and almost didn't look real. We stayed for a while watching the flamingoes and trying to catch our breath.

It was soon back into the jeep and across the bumpy tracks towards the next port of call - geysers and hot springs in the middle of the desert with clouds of lovely smelling steam. A short drive away was a hot pool that we all had a nice soak in....it was a bit chilly up at this altitude so it was nice to sit in some hot water.

We then spent another couple of hours in the jeep before arriving at the place we would spend the first night, next to the 'Red Lagoon'. The scenery here was stunningly bizarre and beautiful again, with mountains around, lamas grazing around the lake and more huge flocks of flamingoes feeding in the salty waters.

We took a walk around part of the huge lake and enjoyed the incredible place we were in.....then it was back to our luxury accomodation. To date we have stayed in some pretty basic places, but we had not yet encountered the concrete bed ! Once the sun went down, it soon became very cold very quickly and a stone bed did nothing to raise the temperature !! After eating the first of many 'fantastic' meals on this tour, we huddled round in the communal room (a bit like Emperor penguins) before heading back to the dorm to crash for the evening. It was a cold, cold night and we all slept with loads of our clothes on, including hats and gloves (it really was cold !)

The first stop on the following morning was an area of huge, Dali-esque rocks that seemed to have been randomly placed in the middle of the high-altitude desert....yet more bizarre Bolivian scenery.

Most rest of the day was spent inside the jeep enjoying the beautiful scenery and watching the lamas and alpacas watching us as we drove past. In the afternoon we visited the yet another colourful lagoon, this time the ´Blue Lagoon´for yet more amazing landscapes and even more flamingoes....who would ever think you would become blase about seeing flamingoes ?

The accomodation that night was definately an improvement on the previous evening....the place was warm and the beds were made of wood (not concrete), sheer luxury ! This hotel was right of the edge of the Salt Flats which we would tour tomorrow. The Uynui Salt Flats are the biggest in the world, covering an area of 12,000 sq km....try and get you heads around that, we couldn´t !!

Another early start for day 3, a few sunrise photos and then it was off in the jeep out onto the Salt Flats. The place was totally flat and blindingly white, and like nothing we had ever seen before. It was almost impossible to get any kind of perspective there....we drove across the flats and it seemed like the mountains on the other side were quite close but after half an hour or so it became very apparent that they were miles and miles away. It was fantastic for taking funny photos though, and, yet again, the camera was put to extensive use.

The driver then took us to a small island in the middle of all that saltiness...yet again, the place was bizarre !! It was covered in huge cacti, some of then over a thousand years old.

After an hour or so walking around the island we got back in the jeep and headed across the flats towards the small town of Uyuni. But we stopped on the way to take yet more photos....it just had to be done !

It had been another amazing tour and the little, non-descript town of Uyuni seemed rather boring in comparison. We said goodbye to the people who had travelled with us, checked into a hotel with Will and headed out for some food. Later that day we booked our tickets out of here, for the following night's 10 hour trip to the capital, La Paz.

permalink written by  jonnik on March 30, 2008 from Uyuni, Bolivia
from the travel blog: Jon & Kenty's Grrrrrand Tour
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