Lagoons, geysers, and a shit-load of salt
03.09.2010 - 05.09.2010 0 °C
A 12 hour night bus took us the 550km south to a small town called Uyuni. The town, originally built around the railway between Chile and Bolivia was also the place I met Helen about 10 days before when I first entered Bolivia. After some mammoth pancakes for breakfast and very nearly buying some Bolivian hip hop for the journey, we set off. The first port of call, just outside the town, was the train graveyard. This is where train went to die when for some reason they weren't wanted anymore. Although they looked like they had been there for a century or more most of them had only entered retirement about 20 years ago. In the end the trains provided the best assault course and we spent about 20 mins climbing and acting like 14 year old kids. Oh, and there was some physics on one. Don't know how that got there.
After the excitement of the trains we set off for the long drive down to the Laguna Colorada and where we'd be sleeping for the first night. The Laguna Colorada was a huge lagoon in the middle of the desert, coloured red by the algae that live in it. These algae also support quite a large population of flamingoes but despite our best efforts the closest we came to one was a washed-up corpse of a baby. There was yet more death on the banks of the lagoon with a vicuña skeleton twisted out in an unnatural position.
That night it was blooming freezing, but luckily enough we had had the fore-thought to bring a couple of bottles of rum. We soon realised, however, why together they had cost us about 3 quid. The ingredients went something like: distilled water, ethanol, sugar and essence of rum. Still went down a treat though and fueled Chris' political conversation with the two Americans that were travelling in our jeep.
The next morning we got up at about half 4 to drive to a geyser field for sunrise. If you've been following this blog you might be able to remember me doing a similar thing in Chile. The geysers here weren't as impressive but stunk a hell of a lot more. From here we were driven by our trusty guide to the Laguna Verde (green lagoon), but it wasn't very green and it was still very cold so we didn't hang around long.
Next on the trip was some hot springs and breakfast. Both were amazing. There was also flamingoes, they were pretty cool too.
Only an hour or so later we were back where we slept the night before for lunch. This time there were llamas. And these llamas were chillers. Not much more to say here, just look at the pics and you'll know what I mean. The rest of the day consisted of a stone tree, more lagoons and so many flamingoes we got pretty bored of them.
The final day of our Salar tour finished with the Salar. We had organised the trip in reverse so that we could see the sun rise over the Salar on the final day. Only trusty guide didn't wake us up in time and we almost missed it. The Salar, at 12000 square km, is the biggest salt flat in the world and, after nearly missing the sunrise, we drove to the middle of it; a cactus-laden island called Isla del Pescado. The views from here were insane: white as far as you could see in almost all directions. After walking the island we descended to the salt flat to take the obligatory perspective photos. Most of these were taken on Chris' camera and you can see more of his pictures here.
The following are Chris'
Before heading back to Uyuni our guide took us to a strange old place, a kind of hut which housed some mummies. Apparently killed in a volcanic eruption 1500 years ago most were little more than skeletons. However one was a mother cradling her child, preserved in the same position they met their demise. As we left the hut, a look above the door showed a fully preserved puma, a victim of the same eruption.
Back in Uyuni we gorged on pizza, before me, Sanjay and Chris got on a bus back to La Paz, leaving Helen to continue her travels into Argentina.