The night was freezing cold but again it didn’t pose a problem. We had to get up early to see the sunrise at the “Sol de Mañana” geyser basin with its boiling mud pots. Shortly before reaching the area the highest altitude of the tour was reached (4.907 m above sea level). The atmosphere at sun rise is magical. But it was quite cold while we walked among the smoky geysers. To heat up again the next stop were the hot springs nearby, where we hopped in the 38°C water. From there we headed back north in the impressing desert: its so colorful. With the clear blue sky it’s the perfect set for hour-long window-watching while driving.
Last but not least we made an extra stop at “Valles de Roca”, a huge lava field which got its today form from a earth quake long time ago. While we drove in one of the valleys, a true paradise unfolded: a valley covered with grass, a large lagoon, llamas and no one else besides us. As we found out later on, this spot is not visited by 90% of the tours – lucky us!
On the way back to Uyuni our guide stopped the car in San Cristóbal. A village which was moved from its original place because of one the biggest silver mines in the world. The church was fully reconstructed in the new place (every single stone).In the late afternoon we reached Uyuni and took the night bus to La Paz again. This time the bus took 12 hours only. Including 3 break downs (in the middle of the pitch black nowhere) and one drive-off the road. Arriving safely in La Paz we found out that a bus on the way from Uyuni to La Paz just ran off and crashed three days ago. Apparently, that happens at least once a month.
and wearing flip-flops afterwards
And last but not least the fully reconstructed church in San Cristóbal
One out of two pee breaks during the lovely 12 hours night bus ride with no toilet on board (especially nice for the women)
The day didn’t start as planned: another jeep was stuck in the salt desert and we had to help (never mind the temperature of -3 degrees). After about an hour of effort the situation had not changed. The tour guides decided to get help from a nearby village and we continued south west towards the colored lagoons (Red, Blue, White, Yellow and Green).
The landscape changed rapidly. The lagoons are so-called due to the different colors that characterize them. They are surrounded by volcanoes and offer surreal panorama-views. Especially, Laguna Colorada with its red color and flamingos is impressive. It was here where Niels took the best picture ever taken 😉 After a long day we arrived at our night-stay (you can´t really call it a hotel or hostel). It had walls, a roof, something like a bathroom and good food. Luckily we were prepared so it didn’t bother us much.
A village in the middle of nowhere
We were prepared for every possible happening. People on our way told us that it's getting extremely cold in the salt flat area (down to minus 15 degrees). Buying a alpaca sweater, scarfs and socks as well as two extra sleeping bags and a down jacket seemed sufficient.
The most common way to get to Uyuni is by night bus which normally takes 12 hours and arrives early in the morning in Uyuni. This way the 3 days/ 2 nights tour can start the same day. In our case the bus took 16 hours and it wasn't as comfortable as we were hoping. Psycho movies were shown until 1 am, just to start again at 6 in the morning. In between the bus stopped several times to let people out and in – our night was short.
Because of our delay of more than 2 hours we arrived at the tour agency in Uyuni 20 minutes after the tour should have started, but like most of the times in south America things go slow. The tour started with 1 hour delay and we were perfectly fine.
Our tour consisted of Alessandro and Francesco (two Italian guys) and Amy from China. Alessandro is a doctor specialized in viruses and bacteria’s, therefore he was very curious about everything we touched and reminded us of disinfecting our hands all the time (its because he is permanently working on projects in Africa for the last 20 years). Francesco is also a traveler and Bolivia is his last stop before going back home to Italy. Amy is working for Huawei and now Niels knows how his mobile (a Huawei) is pronounced correctly (something like Wawi 😉 After 2 hours we found out that our guide had been an English teacher for several years and offered us to do the tour in English (normally it costs a fortune to get an English speaking guide).
The tour started with the “Cementerio de Trenes”, which was followed by the worlds largest salt flat – Uyuni (12.106 sq km at 3.653m height). On the one hand it's an enormous white areal of nothingness. On the other hand it offers the perfect setting for crazy surreal pictures. Before heading to our night stay in a salt hotel we stopped at the Isla Incahuasi, which is a hill in the middle of the salt flat covered with cactuses and offers spectacular views of the Salt Flat.
The night was pretty cold but with our two sleeping bags we were perfectly prepared. In the morning both of us were super rested – unlike the others of our group.
Day 2 see the next post 🙂
Holes in the salt with salt crystals forming in the brine
Nothingness after the salt flat