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Dalama Adventures Tale of two corporate types ditching their jobs and traveling the world for 14 months... check out all photos, blogs & interesting tid bits at http://www.dalama.net

Salar de Uyuni: Freaky Fields of White

BOLIVIA | Thursday, 6 December 2007 | Views [920]

After a quick stop on the fringes of Uyuni to visit the Cementario de Trenes (Train Cemetery), we are off in our old 4WD Land Cruiser, all packed in shoulder to shoulder with our diver, cook, Valerie and Bas and two other North American female students we have just met.  Our driver, Domingo, is a speed demon, and flying over bumps and washboard roads is his specialty.  He cruises us past the old salt hotels that have been deconstructed, as their prior existence so close to the salt flats was causing undue harm to the environment.  We make our way out onto the flooded salt flats, apparently it's rained here the past three days, so the sparkly white fields of salt are now a shallow lake of shimmering white reflective glitter.  It's the most surreal experience driving across the salt flats.  We peer out around us at the few other cars in the distance, it looks as though they're floating on air or maybe in heaven, as the sky and clouds so perfectly reflect off the surface we're all driving on.  Surrounding volcanoes also reflect off the salt flat which doubles as a gigantic mirror.  We're at 3,668m, and snow covered Volcán Tunupa towers over us at 5,400m.  
 
We step out into the shallow waters of the flat to check it out... the flat surface below the water is crackled in hexagonal and pentagonal shapes, making a very unique texture.  As we walk, the layer of salty crust cracks under our shoes, flashing us back to winter time and traversing sketchy ice covered ponds.  The ground is blinding and reflective, we've coated down with sunscreen and hats, but despite the precautions our skin quickly bakes.  This area is famous for taking 2-dimensional photos, where you can position the photographic subject to be standing on the head or in the hands of another person.  We have a blast concocting surreal photos, and it's actually even more fun watching others around us do stupid poses, trying to capture themselves in the perfect, bizarre positions.  Some people have come prepared with props, like Barbie dolls and other strange creatures to include in their photos.  We only wish we were as creative!  
 
Driving across the flat, there are no roads... we drive for hours, speeding so fast.  There's no land in sight to gauge our speed, direction, or distance.  The way it looks out on the reflective glass we speed across, we could easily be on an airplane or a boat - it's honestly hard to tell that we're actually on terra firma.  The salt flat we drive on is just that, flat, there are no bumps, it's smooth sailing the entire way.  We make our way to Isla de Pescadores (ah, an Island, we must be now on a lake), which is really a hunk of mountain in the middle of the salt flat, that from a distance resembles the shape of a fish.  We finally reach the mass, a large mound of dirt covered in huge cacti.  Hard to believe any plant life can actually live out here.  We climb to the top for stellar views of the flat and Volcán Tunupa.  We're fortunate that today has been super hot and dry, the flat has started to dry up, and our 4WD vehicle is able to make it across the entire flat... the risk you run visiting at this time, the rainy season.  Some days the trucks need to turn back, and visitors miss the entire drive across.  After a yummy lunch of freshly grilled llama and quinoa soup, we make our way to a tiny pueblo outside of San Pedro, and check out ancient caves that were used as a cemetery, containing mummies.  All the mummies have been taken out, and just a few skulls remain, however, we could see where the mummies had been buried in little holes/cells.  This is where we'll camp our bodies tonight.

Tags: Adventures

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