We arrived at the tour operator’s office in the morning, where we met up with our guide and the other people on our tour. Quickly, the 12 of us were put into groups of six and allocated a driver and vehicle each. Our group consisted of a Norwegian couple and a Spanish couple. With the Land Cruiser loaded, we were off…
Our first stop was the train graveyard. Here there was an opportunity to climb all over the trains that have been left, as a monument, to rust in the middle of the desert. Annie being in her element was quick to be climbing all over them and posing for photos. Once we had exhausted all of the possible model poses we could both think of, we climbed back in our vehicles and headed off to the local Bolivian market, to stack up on as many woolly hats and leg warmers as we possibly could.
Once on the Salt flats we made a couple of stops including lunch in a Salt hotel; more like a “Salt Shack” although the bathroom did have the most amazing view. Lunch consisted of oven roasted Llama and vegetables. The next stop found us again in our element with several hours of adopting as many different poses as we could on the Salt Flats. Combining the whole groups imagination and the experience of our guides, we manage to exhaust almost every different opportunity to use the landscape to distort the perspective of both ourselves and several props.
Next was the cactus island… This was pretty much exactly as it sounds; an island full of cactuses. Onwards from here took us to the final daylight sight of the day, a cave. From here we watched the sunset and took advantage of the opportunity to try out more poses with the sun setting behind us.
Our final stop for the day was our Salt Lodge, which was to be home for the night. The room was a dormitory style room, containing several large slabs of salt (each with a mattress and 3 blankets on It), a bathroom and a dining hall. After a lovely meal and a night tour “Sky viewing” of the different constellations which are found on the Salt Flats, our beds were waiting for us and a well deserved sleep ensued.
An early start, breakfast and we were off again. The temperature was still below 0C for the first hour or so. With the Salt Flats behind us today was to be all about Volcanoes, Rocks and Lakes.
After a couple of hours of “Offroad Driving” we arrived in view of the volcano; a striking feature, whose name we have both forgotten, which sat around 5400m. By this time the sun was up and we were off again, this time in search of rocks. The landscape had now changed and looked remarkably like terrain that you would find in Utah, USA. On arrival, we were both soon all amongst the bouldering opportunities on offer and the ever present photo opportunities that it inevitably offered.
Next stop some of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen:
After a few more hours of driving, we arrived at our next lodge. This time things were a little colder, enough that Anneliese refused to sleep in a bed on her own and the tour guides felt the need to supply hot water bottles… All terribly over the top for -10C, in my view. After what was probably the worst night’s sleep that I have had in a while because I seemed to be lying next to a fidgeting, wind expelling, blanket stealing little tike; we were off again; this time at 0500hrs in the morning.
First stop was the “Hot Springs,” where I made possibly the grandest entrance of the day (maybe even the year) into the Springs…
After realising that there was no dignity left to salvage; I just decided to accept and join in the laughter and enjoy the warm water and beautiful scenery that the springs had to offer…
Onwards and upwards towards the final lake of the trip; we took our last photo of the tour as a group, before dropping our new Spanish friends at the Chilean border and starting the long six hour drive back to Uyuni.
To break up the trip, we stopped at what could only be described as a “Mini Arizona” in the middle of Bolivia.