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Road trip through the Salar de Uyuni

Me and the chicas on the slat flats of Uyuni Me and the chicas on the slat flats of Uyuni

On a cold Sunday morning me, the six girls, and our driver boarded our land cruiser, and thus started our road trip to Chile through the Salar de Uyuni (Salt flats of Uyuni). It was time to leave Bolivia behind us, as we said bye bye to civilization (well, relative civilization, there wasn’t wifi anywhere in Uyuni).

House by the beach, um, I mean by the salt flats House by the beach, um, I mean by the salt flats

Salt truck, driving in the sea Salt truck, driving in the sea

Did you want a pinch of salt? Did you want a pinch of salt?

We heaved our bags on top of the car and climbed inside. First stop, Salt flats of Uyuni, worlds biggest salt flat. This is where your table salt comes from, well probably not, but if you eat any salt in South America, my feet have probably been in it. Big industry here, plenty of trucks being constantly filled with salt.

It’s a place that’s hard to comprehend. It looks like sand or snow, depending your mood and the light, but there is something a little wrong with it. First of all, it’s too flat; it is one of the flattest places on earth, over the whole  area  the altitude varies only about a meter, which is impressive considering the area is bigger than Cyprus for example. Yes I struggled with that example, anyway it’s over 10.000 square kilometers big.

Especially with the water, it looks like the best beach ever with absolutely stunning white sand, but it is unfortunately a bit too shallow for swimming. It is pretty salty also (yeah, surprise surprise), after washing my hands in it, I had to spend some of my water from my bottle to rewash my hands that were drying up badly because of the salt. You also couldn’t take off your sun glasses there, the sun beaming back from the white salt is just too much.

The train graveyard The train graveyard

All aboard All aboard

Wild West is rough place Wild West is rough place

Deep in the sand Deep in the sand

After playing around in the salt and having lunch there (I was tempted to just pick salt from the ground to my food), we drove forward to a train graveyard near Uyuni, which definitely put us in the good old wild west mood as we climbed the train wrecks, trying to find the best angles for photos. Just scores and scores of old rusted trains.

Salvador Dali's rock. Inspiration for Dali who visited the area Salvador Dali's rock. Inspiration for Dali who visited the area

The red lagoon The red lagoon

The valley of rocks, really? The valley of rocks, really?

The next day we drove through various sceneries, including deserts, lagoons and a place called the valley of rocks, and few other places full of rocks. Through the same landscapes that Salvador Dali had gone looking for inspiration, and it’s easy to see why he found it from here.

Curious desert fox came to say hi Curious desert fox came to say hi

As the desert is pretty high, roughly 4 km above sea level at all times, it is pretty cold during nights, and even during days there was a constant need for a long sleeved shirt (I was basically using all my warm clothes). But even with the cold, the sun is scorching in these altitudes, I resorted to borrowing some sun block with rating of 70, as I quickly felt like was starting to burn up with my normal sun block.

On the last day, we woke up around 4 am; it was still well belove zero as we tore ourselves from the warmth of the beds. And it was indeed unpleasant, as the houses in Bolivia aren’t heated. So in the dark and cold, we got ready and into the car. I even remembered to take the battery for my camera. There was only two electric plugs in the building as far as I was able to find, and neither of these had any electricity in them. Electricity being provided from a single solar panel, it was a scarce resource, but after some negotiations I had managed to get the plugs powered for the night. So thankfully I had my camera, which had died the previous day, all charged up.

Warming your hands in the 100°C geyser Warming your hands in the 100°C geyser

Walking into fields of geysers Walking into fields of geysers

First we arrived to some geysers, the hot steam looking spectacular in the darkness against the rising sun. It was nice to warm our cold hands in the hot steam, which was supposed to be 100°C, but maybe our hands just were too frozen to actually feel the burning.

0°C air, 39°C water, perfect. Well I didn't go in to be honest 0°C air, 39°C water, perfect. Well I didn't go in to be honest

Water from the hot springs Water from the hot springs

Later we arrived to a hot spring, and while the idea of swimming in the 39C water had seemed like a good idea earlier, especially since we hadn’t had a shower during our road trip, at 8 am in freezing conditions, it suddenly didn’t seem that appealing, thou some of us did dip in. And afterwards smugly told the rest of us how nice it was.

The white lagoon, the skeleton at the bottom really drives thru the message The white lagoon, the skeleton at the bottom really drives thru the message

Few hours after the hot springs, we arrived to the Chilean border. Our passports had already been stamped four days earlier, so we just got our stuff off from the car, and said our goodbyes to our driver. Then we climbed on board the little bus towards San Pedro de Atacama. The whole two hour bus ride basically being just downhill, could had done it on a bike.

I really missed my DSLR camera on that road trip, but the good news is that my insurance company recently came back, they agreed to buy me a new one. Only problem now being, that cameras here are very expensive, so I am still a bit uncertain when and where I am going to get a new camera and lens.

Enjoying the views Enjoying the views

But an awesome road trip, definitely recommended if you happen to be in the area.

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  1. The Best of South America Part 2: Travellers Share Their Tips - [...] things are critical for survival here, it can actually be quite chilly at the salt flats of Uyuni. Salar …

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