Saturday, 14 September 2013

Uyuni and the fantastical Salt Flats

After spending the day on the bus doing nothing we made up for it when we arrive in Uyuni, having the most productive 3 hours of our trip so far. We checked into a hostel, booked onto our salt flats tour for the following morning, bought some more woollies, ate some delicious pizza and packed for our trip. Boom.

For once we didn't have a tour starting at the crack of dawn, which gave us time to get our bus ticket sorted for the day we got back (Uyuni really isn't a place you want to hang around for long). After a proactive morning, we met our group and fellow tourers for the next three days. There was Grover our tour guide and skilled photographer, The Frenchies (A lovely couple who go by the names Herve and Ariane), and last but not least The Spaniards (two amigas called Lorena and Amalia). With a full 4x4 we headed to our first stop in the train cemetery, where we had fifteen minutes to take as many photos as possible!

Hands up if you love trains
 
Eery

We then headed off into the bumpy dessert in search of the world famous salt flats. We didn't have to wait too long before the vast expanse of glittering white salt seemed to stretch out infinitely ahead of us. Grover pulled up at Fish Isle/Island; a solitary island of cacti, which was also home to a mini rabbit/kangaroo that we were lucky enough to spot. After begrudgingly paying 30 bolivianos entrance fee, we hiked up for thirty minutes to the top and were awarded with some pretty cool views. We were also informed by an English-speaking guide that the salt flats had formed after a sea had dried up, leaving behind the mineral-rich land.

Fish Isle

Floater

Looks painful

After a quick lunch of cold steak we were back on the "road" and driving further into the white stuff and it was finally time for the infamous perspective photo shoot, which we had thoroughly prepared for!

For too long Kat had been playing Imy like a puppet..

Until Imy had enough and tried to blow her away..

But when a two headed monster turned up, they had to reunite forces..unfortunately Imy had her arm bitten off..

After all the action they got thirsty for a big ol' drink..

And Kat got herself a supersized oreo...all in all it was a hard day.

We rocked up to our hotel and were thoroughly surpised to see that it not only had brick walls and clean toilets, but that everything, including the walls, floor and tables, were made out of salt! Before tucking into a simple dinner of chicken and chips, Herve and Ariane tutored us in the game of yam's, which Imy took to like a duck to water while Kat's luck seemed to be letting her down.

After a good and surprisingly warm night's sleep, we jumped out of bed ready for another day of exploring the incredible area. The day consisted of watching flamingos, marveling at a semi-active volcano, snapping pic of Salvador Dali's tree. We finished off the day with a stop at a lake that was bright red and orange thanks to the live organisms that lived in it. The second night's sleep was not so cozy, but luckily we had been warned before our trip, and we were armed with hefty sleeping bags.

Hey birds..

Rojo

Oooh famous rock

Team photo

We had a pretty awful night, thanks to some VERY inconsiderate drunkards, we were up at 5am for our final day on the salt flats. Then we waited...and waited...and waited for Grover. Eventually he turned up, mumbling some rubbish about losing his keys, which were in his pocket all along! Silly Grover. First call of the day were the geysers. They were mental and looked like something from Mars, as they bubbled away. Second stop was a green lake that was unfortunately not very green because there wasn't much wind... Finally we stopped off at a natural hot spring, which was pretty blooming natural. We defrosted ourselves for a nice relaxing half an hour before heading back to the car and continuing our journey back to Uyuni.

Gaasssy

The not-so-green-green lake

Chilling..or rather warming!

With two hours to spare, we gobbled down a pizza and got on our ten-hour night bus to Villazon, on the border of Argentina. Finally Kat had her wish fulfilled and we were put on a real warts-and-all Bolivian night bus, where the windows wouldn't shut and the bus was filled with locals. We couldn't believe our eyes when we realised we were heading back to the slat flats, a trip that we had previously done in the comfort of a 4x4. It's safe to say that our bottoms were a tad bruised by the end of the journey and we didn't sleep a wink. 

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