Salar de Uyuni
This was supposed to be definitely a highlight of my brief visit to Bolivia. Everybody kept repeating how amazing this is. As LonelyPlanet and Tripadvisor were very unhelpful with regards of finding place to spend the night prior my tour in Uyuni I decided to go to THE salt hotel of the moment, the Palacio de Sal. What an amazing place this was. From outside not really striking your heart but once entered it was not less than they showed / promised on their website. With lots of care to the detail they built this hotel almost only with salt. All the couches, beds, walls whatever is white is made of salt. Also to mention was that the receptionist was lending me her bike for the afternoon so that i could have a little sneak preview of the salt flats.
Well there was one drawback, in contradiction to the info on booking.com it was not possible to pay this beautiful place with credit card. However as i was just about to cross boarder to Chile Frau Rüttimann didn’t have sufficient cash left to pay the last days in Bolivia and pay the hotel. So therefore I had no other choice than calling a taxi that would drive me back into town, fetch some cash and drive back. This was a 45 min roundtrip costing me BOB500!!! What a waste of money but well not worth to freak out.
Another hot potato was to figure out with which agency i should go for the Salar Jeep tour as you keep hearing stories that some agency are really taking the mickey of you. Thus alike all the other travellers i was doing extensive research on tripadvisor/LP and figured out with which one i would like to go. Went there in the morning, bought my ticket, done and dusted. The following day we set off in a Toyota 4×4 which is said to be the best option. Well this one we managed, however after asking the driver – who acted also as cook and mechanic – with which agency we were now going, it was a) not the one i booked with and b) nor did any of the others. Well then… what to do just carry on and have a smile on your face.
Soon we reached the famous Salar of 12,000km2 a bright white desert just from salt as far as you can see. All looking a bit like a honeycomb with its hectagon shape caused by the evaporation of the rain water. Ample of time to take all those pictures – sadly my team wasn’t in the mood to shoot any of those silly pics. Well then.
After that we headed for Incahuasi Island with it’s giant cactus. Very nice but after this vast white space almost nothing can top it – nevertheless we went to explore the island and it was in fact very nice.
second day was a lot of driving in the jeep so the girls sticked their heads into the books, while 1 guy was suffering from flu and the other one tried to keep himself busy with his smartphone. Having said that, i kept praying not to catch to flu from him. Because trapped in a jeep for hours and even sharing the same dormitory was quite a tough test for my immune system. I assume i survived this because due to the holidays my body is quite relaxed and can deal with some ‘shit’ 😉 Eventually we arrived at the Siloli desert which is famous for the bizarre rocks that got its shape from the wind.
Then a number of Lagunas followed on the second day, i really cannot remember anymore exactly which one is which but they had such beautiful names as Laguno Rojo, Laguna Blanca, Laguna Verde and the Laguna Colorada which changes it’s colour depending on sunlight, content of minerals and algies in the water. The latter is also known as the home of approx 30,000 flamingoes. Well honestly i think there were a few hundreds there when we arrived – but let’s believe this is true.
On the third day we had to get up super early in order to ensure we arrive at the geysers before the sunrise as they are the most active at low temperatures. When we put our bags back on the roof of the jeep it was truly freezing… the driver/mechanic/cook meant it was around -8. I think he exaggerated but for sure it was cold. But the geysers were waiting for us, the sunrise was ‘on hold just for us’ and the hot springs as well. ..and we didn’t get disappointed, the geysers were steaming and bustling and the aguas calientes were steaming hot.
After the bath we headed to the Bolivian/Chilean border where we got first a breakfast and then were guided into the bus that lead us out of the desert, away from dusty roads and onto nicely paved ones….. yes here we come Chile.