Saturday, 29 March 2014

Bano Naturales

Group jump

After leaving San Pedro and Chile behind we started our next big adventure, the Salar de Uyuni. We decided to do this as a three day trip finishing in Bolivia and chose Cordillera Traveller as our tour company. If you look online at these trips you will read lots of horror stories (drunk drivers, awful bathrooms, cold hostels etc) but Cordillera  appeared to have the lowest number of bad reviews (which is always a great way to pick a tour company!).


We were picked up from our hostel in San Pedro at 8am in a little mini bus which drove us through Chilean immigration and then on to the Bolivian boarder. The Bolivian boarder was pretty bleak, when I asked if there was a toilet the immigration staff just laughed at me and said "bano naturales'.. Which was all well and good but the landscape was pretty flat... 

Laguna Colorado

After a standard South American breakfast of bread the bus had to be split into little groups of 5/6 for the rest of the trip. We had a lovely group of the photographer and I (yes we decided to stick together), Harri and Miriam (a German couple who had been in our hostel in San Pedro), and finally Davina and Zsuzsu (friends from Germany and Hungry). 

Our lovely little group on the salt flats

The first day we visited a couple of colourful lagoons (special mention to Laguna Colorado which had loads of flamingos which we got to see up close), a hot thermal pool (which was lovely but a bit eggy to swim in) some geysers and passed through Daliesque rocks scattered through the desert landscape. It was really cool driving through the desert with no roads and dust flying everywhere (I felt like a real adventurer). Everything went pretty smoothly apart from a small two hour stop for some car trouble! At one point I did think we may be sleeping in the desert, but thanks to our lovely driver and the 3 other cars who stopped we managed to make it on the road again!! Our first night was supposed to be basic accommodation with all of our group in one room, but it was actually pretty good! Everyone got an early night as I think the cold and the 4500m altitude were getting to us!! 

Hot pool (much warmer than our previous one)
Dont try this at home

The next day we set out through much rougher landscape. We visited some more lakes (with more flamingos), a railway line through the middle of nowhere, a formation called the rock tree and climbed rocks scattered through the desert. We also went to a lookout for a volcano which was in the middle of a crazy lava landscape, but unfortunately the whole area seemed to have been used as a giant bano naturales so was a bit gross... That night we stayed at a salt hotel (the building was made of salt), which was cool till you took a shower (which for obvious reasons aren't made of salt), then walked around wet and ending up salty... The evening was fun (despite the very grumpy woman running the hotel) with all three cars from our group hanging out together. We even managed some stargazing! 


Rock tree

Who is watching for the train?

The last day was the big event. We were up at 4am to make it to the salt flats for sunrise. The experience was amazing, the flats seem endless and the beautiful pink glow of sunrise made everything so magical! We spent a lot of time playing around on the salt taking crazy photos and just generally messing around! We also visited Isla Pescado, an island in the salt with really cool giant cactuses, and took part in a Harlem Shake (outdated I know) on the salt at a birthday girls request. We finished the day at the train cemetery at the edge of Uyuni which was bleak and beautiful. 

Harlem shake

Tiny little Photographer

After arriving in Uyuni (which wasn't very nice) The Photographer and I said rushed goodbyes to everyone as we made a swift exit to get a bus to Potosi our next destination, and first real taste of a Bolivian city!! 


Sunrise on the salt
Isla Pescado

Summary 

Location: Salt flats tour, Bolivia 

Highlights: Everything, including the breakdown, it was all part of the experience. Feeling like we were on a proper middle of nowhere desert adventure! 

Profile pictures: Millions

Minutes spent lost: 0, but it felt like we could be the entire time! 

Song of the journey: Vamos all a playa, which I had never heard before but I am now well acquainted with! 

Epiphany's: 0


Train cemetery

Our (semi) trusty steed

Yoga at sunrise

Lolly photo time

Splash

Floating

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