Salar de Uyuni

Now we had our luggage and were not going to freeze to death it was time to tick off another item on my bucket list… the Bolivian Salar de Uyuni (the Bolivian Salt Flats).

The adventure started with an 8-9 hour overnight bus trip from La Paz to Uyuni. Poor ‘man friend’ was not quite prepared for the sleepless night this bus had in store for his first bus trip.

Being a third world county the Bolivian roads are not the smoothest rides. From about 2am until 5am was probably the roughest part. Luckily with all my bus riding experience I knew to block it out and keep sleeping as much as I could because once you start to let yourself wake up it is going to be a long, long bus ride.

Once we arrived in Uyuni we swapped from bus to a car made for our off road experience…the 4WD. Mothers in the CBD of many capital cities it is out here where your 4WD truly belongs.

We met our tour, packed up our cars and were ready for our Salt Flat Adventure. Within the first five minutes of the trip I was super excited just to be riding in a 4WD where roads were barriers made to be broken.

The first day was action packed visiting the train cemetery, our first view of the Salt Flats, enjoyed delicious llama steak and apple pie for lunch (little did we know this would be our best meal of the trip), photo shoot with force perspective shots, hiking across Inca Huasi (Fish Island) to see the giant cacti and enjoyed the sunset across the Salt Flats

Tonight over dinner I learned from my flow travellers the symptoms of altitude sickness and realised I had been suffering from altitude sickness and had not quite realised. Young naive me didn’t realise all the symptoms and thought that because I was fine with the altitude in Cusco I would be fine in Bolivia.

One of the best moments of the trip which unfortunately was impossible to capture on camera was watching the full moon rise across the clear night sky. Sorry folks no pictures to share there just my memories of the magic moment.

It was a cold night but apparently tonight’s coldness had nothing on tomorrow nights. This at the time we found hard to believe but boy were we wrong.

Day 2 of the trip we passed through the Chuguana desert area home to extinct volcanoes plus the semi active Ollague, high altitude lagoons that are home to 3 species of flamingo, desert of Siloli and the “tree of rock” along with the final destination of the day “Laguna Colorado” an amazing red coloured lake.

Today was an exciting day for me because I was going to get to see my favourite animal the flamingo. At our first flamingo siting it was necessary to use as mych zoom on our cameras as capable in order to see the two flamingos in the middle of the lake. As we ate our lunch looking out across the lake, I began to wonder is this all that we would see of this beautiful creature and became even sadder when we spotted a baby flamingo that had no pink and sadly was not going to survive many more days. The pinkness of the flamingo comes from the food it eats.

As we said goodbye and good luck to this little guy we headed not far around the corner to a beautiful lake where many flamingos were enjoying the day. It was here I definitely got my flamingo fix.

From here we entered the National Park and went on to the red lake.

We then arrived at camp for the night. Due to the severe coldness of the night it was necessary to drink red wine to keep warm. Even the cars had to be tucked in with tarps and blankets in order for the engine to turn on the next morning at our 5am starting time.

On day 3 we reached 5,000 metres and checked out the “Sol de Manana” geysers and see the bubbling mud pools and steam jets.

Arriving at the hot springs by 7am I decided the air was a little too chilly to be jumping into the hot springs even though the water is very warm.

Breakfast that morning was a treat. It was like we were kids and Mum and Dad weren’t home to make us breakfast so we just grabbed whatever we could out of the cupboard and used anything we could find to serve it up in. Unfortunately after breakfast I felt a little queasy I don’t think I should have mixed so many things together.

As we continued on to the end of trip we saw the rock tree, Dali desert, Laguna Verde, Volcano Licancabur and Llama glamor before arriving back in Uyuni.

After unpacking the 4WD it was time to grab some delicious llama pizza before the overnight bus journey back to La Paz. Accompanied with my pizza was a mojito. This was not just any mojito it was a mojito with a Bolivian twist. After ordering my drink the waitress came back and asked what I thought was “We don’t have any soft drink do you mind coca?” Thinking she meant Coca Cola I said that is fine. When the drink came out I soon realised she said we don’t have any mint are coca leaves okay. It was an interestingly strong cocktail and made me great entertainment for my ‘Man friend’ on the bus trip back to La Paz.

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