Waking up at 8 was not too much of a challenge, we are finally headed to Salar Del Uyuni! We walked over to our tourcompany and mat the people who we would spend the next 3 days with. 5 Brasileanos, an Aussi, a Brit, and a girl from the USA. We all piled into the minibus which will take us to the border of Bolivia, where the tour will begin. The Bolivian border was next to pathetic, one small windswept building, surrounded by desert. We got our passports stamped and headed into Bolivia. At the border we switched out of the minibus and into a 4 wheel drive Landcruiser. In the Landcruiser we had 4 Brazilians and us three, quite a crew.
We headed away from the border crossing and down to a lagoon called Laguna Blanca. There were flamingoes in the lagoon!! There must have been arounf 30 Flamingoes there, but these will the first of many Flamingoes I will see on this trip. We got out and walked around, our driver, Louis drove forward about 300 meters, so that we could walk around the area and eventually meet up with him. Laguna blanca was interesting, It was extremely salty, and very shallow. Even the flamingoes in the middle were not in water deeper then your knees. Our next stop was Laguna Verde. As we drove around the Lagoon, It was changing colors. Louis said this was because the cobalt in the water was getting oxidized as the water warmed up. Laguna Verde was an amazing blue color, with deep red mountains in the distance all around. Also, I forgot to mention, that we are at about 4300m.around 14,000ft, taller then Mauna Kea. The elevation I was able to feel and taste in the crisp, cool air. After the Green Lagoon we headed to a Thermal Bath hotsprings with an Awesome view. Looking out of the hotspring, you look over another lagoon and right in the middle, another flamingo! This is soo cool! Once we dried off, back into the jeep we went, this time with some Coca leaves to reduce the effects of altitude which is starting to effect us now. Syptoms of Altitude sickness include, Headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, and vomiting! I had a few of them, but not the bad ones. Both Laina and Cory were doing well at this part of the trip. The Coca leaves, which you chew, help out a little with making the syptoms much milder. Even though its contravoursy in the US, Coca, and Coca leaves are not a problem at all here in Bolivia, they are part of the culture, and the people.
Our next stop on our first day was the Geysers, which were at 5000m or 16,500 feet. This was when the serious altitude sickness started to grip me. 16,500 feet is taller then any part of the continental United States, it is very high indeed. When we left, the rest of our trip was downhill, (literally). We got to our first hostel for the trip, and had a nice lunch of hotdogs, salad and avocados. Then relaxed a little and headed out to Laguna Colorada to see some more flamingoes and llamas!!
At Laguna Colorada we found a dead flamingo and cory tried to kiss it. I got a picture! We walked around the Laguna and then we found some Llamas!! I love Llamas, they are soo cool. They were big and fluffy and had earrings of red yarn with decorations on them. I followed them around, and at this point my legs were hurting and i had a headache, both common at altitude. Laina and Cory were still holding up well, despite being at 14,000 feet, where we were then. Laguna Colorada has so many colors red, white and green. Also there are giant “saltbergs” that you can use your imagination to figure out. The area is so dry and desolate with harsh sun and wind. The sky is huge, and very blue. When we are crossing the desert, we are not on any roads. Lainas favorite part was the fact that we were just driving randomly over the desert with no road to guide us, It was quite a unique feeling. We went back to our hostel for a nice dinner, however at this time I was feeling ill, and drank a little Bolivian wine, which was definiatly the wrong choice. I slept terribly. I was not able to fall asleep even though I was extremely tired. It must have been the altitude. I was really feeling bad, until about 4 in the morning and I all of a sudden felt much better, and that was that for my altitude sickness, it went away! That was nice.
Our second day on the excursion, we headed to 4 more Lagoons.
Upon waking I felt a much better and ready to head out again. Laina felt really nauseaous and cory didnt get any sleep and was starting to feel the effects of the extreme altitude. We headed to the national park and saw some beautiful lagoons with more flamingos. We went to a large rock tree forest, that looked like somthing out of a salvador dali painting. After climbing up the rocks (and getting very winded, high altitude) We headed out and got some more lunch. Later that afternoon, we rolled into a very small town/communitee on the outskirts of the Salar Del Uyuni ( the actual large salt flat) The town was really astounding, because It was the first time I was every in a small town that was really made entirely out of Mud, Adobe and correguated Iron. All the people were very much indigenous( the majority of Bolivias population is Indigionous) and their was signs of agriculture all over the place. Laina and cory were pretty miserable at this point and headed straight to bed. I stayed up for the best dinner of the trip, and then the terrenchial downpours started and I quickly headed to bed.
Today we are headed to the Salar Del Uyuni!!! We woke up at the late hour of 4:45, to catch sunrise out on the salar. About 45 minutes out of town the ground started to turn white, really white. All of a sudden, as far as you could see in every direction, white. White everywhere. As the sun started to rise, we took a stop to watch the salar in all its whiteness. Snapped a few pictures by a digging hole, where people dug out salt bricks for construction. I tasted the water that was in puddles and immediately regretted my decision! It was so salty I almost threw up! Once the sun reached a high enough declination everything became really white. We went to an Island that was covered in Cactuses. Really cool. They were chargeing us to get in, but laina felt really sick, and cory and I didnt want to fork out the cash, so we walked around it instead! After Desayuno(breakfast) we went out onto the salt to take an array of goofy pictures. I´ll post some here, but most of them are now on facebook. Try this link.
After we left the Island, we headed to a Hotel made out of SALT! The building was constructed out of SALT Tricks pulled from the Salar. We then rolled into the town of Uyuni, and that was the end of our 3 day excursión on the salt. Now we are in Bolivia! What a cool place!
Check out the new photos here, and on Facebook!