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Salar de Uyuni - Lost in the desert!!!

BOLIVIA | Monday, 13 May 2013 | Views [842]

Salar de Uyuni - The biggest salt flats in the world, I can now say I've been and what an experience it was!

I took a three day tour from the ghost town of Uyuni which meant our first stop were the salt flats themselves! A sea of white salt stretched out for as far as the eye could see,blindingly white,sunglasses are a necessity.It was absolutely breath taking!Our first stop was alongside the small pyramids of salt depository's,which to touch felt like millions of granules of rock salt compressed together. On top of one of these pyramids is where Mr Dinosaur made his first public appearance before his photo shoot! After ten minutes of trying to create the perfect shot and not succeeding we were told by our driver Santiago that we needed to get back into the car and move on!We drove further onto the flats and stopped at a salt museum but opted not to go in so we could perfect the traditional salar de uyuni photo shoot with our props, thankfully we succeeded after many attempts. We stopped for lunch just beside Isla de los Pescados, an island covered in hundreds of gigantic cacti which we later climbed up onto to take in the panoramic views of the salar, unfortunately my camera batteries decided to die at this point!Lunch consisted of llama steak which was quite tasty, except I felt bad eating it after seeing one little llama on the island roaming around doing a spot of window shopping not long before!

That was the salt flats done, next stop the salt hotel where we were to spend the night.If you hadn't guessed it by the name, then yes it's a hotel built from salt including the beds!The temperature dropped a few degrees here but the worst was yet to come!We were up at the crack of dawn and on the road again, driving through the barren landscape and taking in the spectacular scenery.Laguna Hedionda was where we stopped for lunch and to see the flamingos then off we drove again to see the Arbol de Piedra, a rock that has been formed into a shape that looks like a tree after years of wind and sand erosion.Next stop Laguna Colorada or Red Lagoon, the majority of the lagoon is red giving it an amazing appearance and a perfect setting to take some pictures. It is also home to the famous James's Flamingo, so i found out after reading that there. We climbed up onto a hill which felt like a mountain to me, the altitude really catches your breath here! The view was fantastic and you got to witness the lagoon in its full glory. We spent the night in the most basic accomodation next to the lagoon and it was freezing, especially when we had to get up at five in the morning to leave an hour later.It was pitch black when we left and our feet were like ice blocks, no heating in the car meant they didn't thaw out!

The early morning wake up was definitely worth it once we got to the Solar de Manaña geyser basin, the steam released from them was fascinating but it was too cold to stand around for long!Looking out into the distance, you could just about start to see the sun beginning to rise over the hills, it was beautiful.We didn't stop for long as we were heading to the Termas de Polques hot springs, I only put my legs in but it was absolutely boiling to start with, a great treat after the cold morning we were subjected to!Our last stop of the tour was the not so very green Laguna Verde.The lagoon is no longer green due to an earthquake in Chile some months ago which has caused the appearance to change, none the less it was still picturesque to see.Bordered by Chile to one side and Argentina to the other it's a pretty good place to stop.

So that was the tour complete, back we jumped in the car for our not so six hour trip back to Uyuni!During the day the temperature started to pick up, turning the car into a furnace! Driving through the dusty desert, Santiago said we weren't allowed to open the windows as the dust comes in.It was still coming in somehow though as it felt like we inhaled plenty of it! With no air con either and trying to drink the minimal amount of water so you didn't have to use the Inka toilet, meant it sure was getting hot in there!A break for lunch (caused by the car not starting after crossing through a stream) was a more than welcome break from the car! After lunch we were back on the road again to be hit with the unfortunate news that yes, there was a bloqueade to get back into Uyuni.After driving for a few hours we arrived at the small town of San Cristobel just on the outskirts of Uyuni to be told by our driver that he could take us around the bloqueade except he'd run out of fuel! He told us if we each gave fifteen Boliviano's and he one hundred he could get us through them, obviously we all agreed to this as we were in the middle of nowhere! There was one slight problem though, he didn't actually know the way and the route would take us through the desert! The other tour groups also had the same problem so after Santiago had much discussion with the other drivers we all jumped back into the cars and started a convoy of 4 x 4's through the desert! So, there we were following the leader, stopping every now and then to ask for more directions when suddenly we appeared to lose all of the other 4 x 4's! We were lost! Fortunately we saw a car heading towards us, only to be told that in fact we were going in the opposite direction of Uyuni but instead heading back to San Cristobel, where we'd come from!That was after around three hours of driving! The sun was starting to set and the temperature was dropping, one good thing about getting lost out there was the sunset was gorgeous over the dunes.Eventually we saw the man who had told us we were heading to San Cristobel returning in the direction of Uyuni so we followed him?

Thirteen hours after setting off in the morning we were finally back in Uyuni. Thanks to our driver Santiago we made it back safely and we had to hand it to him, that was alot of hours driving in those conditions, they really were off road! An unforgettable three days for more reasons than one but definitely an adventure and an amazing experience.

Tags: 4 x 4s, desert, geysers, hot springs, lagoons, salar de uyuni, salt hotel, sunrise, sunset, worlds largest salt flats

 

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