Thursday, February 20, 2014

Salar de Uyuni (12.02.2014 - 14.02.2014)

Together with Has & Steff we took a night bus all the way south to Uyuni. Wan't even that uncomfortable ;)
When we stepped out of the bus the next morning there where a bunch of people trying to sell us the Uyuni tours. After some consideration and having a look at the car and driver (hearing stories of drunken drivers and rundown cars) we booked our trip with Betto Tours.
First stop was the totally overcrowded train cemetery, heaps of rusting old trains and wagons with dozens of people clambering around. Nevertheless a nice sight!
Our group containing the four of us and two girls from Peru then drove to the salt flat. As it is currently summer and rain season the whole place is flooded to a depth of 5-15cm. Because of this you can't visit the fisher island and its giant cacti in the middle of the salar. The car had to drive slowly as not getting his radiator totally encrusted in salt. We stepped out of the 4x4 and took some awesome pictures. Because of the water the whole thing looks like a gigantic mirror all the way to the horizon!
The driver then took us to the "Salt Hotel", a house built entirely out of slabs of salt but which definitely has seen better days. We had lunch, took some more pictures and then started to drive back and then south for our stay the first night. The place where we slept was super basic/rundown, but okay. They where drying meat on the clothes line next to some dirty towels, yummy!

After breakfast we continued south to visit some rock formations. One called the condor, quite boring but the view around it was excellent! Several stops and pictures later we arrived at the first of many lagoons. We wandered around it and took pictures of the flamingos. Some more lagoons and a couple of lama crossings after was already time for lunch. Melanie and I took the chance to don our space suit and pose in the desert ^^. In the afternoon we stopped at the famous Stone tree, again not that impressive.
I don't know why, but multiple times on our travel so far the locals were proud to point out a stone formation which should resemble something...
Later on we crossed into the national park and visited Laguna Colorada and its millions of flamingos. Then drove on and found a basic but nice place to stay. This is where we met Fernando, whom we gave our Hulk action figure away to. He first couldn't believe his luck and kept on asking if this is really a gift and if he could keep it =)
At night our group then went out to play with flashlights and long exposures. But the cold soon drove us back into our shelter to enjoy some more beers and wine ;)
Early the next morning we drove on to see the geysers and vents in the first morning light. The pressure in which the water/hot air escapes the earth was quite impressive! The bolivian government started recently to tap into this massive energy source to produce clean power.
Afterwards we stopped at some hot springs to warm ourselves up. Around us where a bunch of lamas which used the the haze of the hot springs to partake in some family enlargement... ;)
Soon after we where dropped of at the border to chile and had to wait for our transport to San Pedro de Atacama. From the border at 4500m above sea we drove 2000m down to San Pedro where we had to find a place to stay for the next nights.