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Would you like some salt with that?

Uyuni, Calama & buses, BOLIVIA, CHILE

sunny 25 °C
View Map 2 - 22 La Paz to Pucon on krystalmat's travel map.

- Krystal typing -

Thursday the 8th of January

Well, we got off the bus in Uyuni at about 8am after approximately 12 minutes sleep due to being shaken around in a bus similar to a blender for the past 8 hours!!! Lets just stay it wasnt the smoothest trip of our lives! Plus Monique was having withdrawals from her altitude pills, so first stop was a drug fix for her! (we were stilll at pretty high altitude, higher than La Paz)

Once off the bus we were relieved to be greeted by someone from the tour we had booked. She took us to the tour office, we dumped our bags and grabbed some breakie before jumping into a jeep and meeting 3 others that would be joining us for then next couple of days - an american couple and a dutch girl.

We headed straight out to the salt flat, which was about an 1hours drive out of town. The salt flats of Uyuni are the worlds biggest, they were created about 40,000 years ago when a giant prehistoric lake dried up and left behind two major salt deserts. On our approach and to our amazement we soon discovered the salt flats were under water (which is pretty common given its rainy seasons!) The horizon looked beautfil, the entire ground was white as far as the eye could see with baby blue colourded water. Every now and then you could see little white domes popping up, where workers have tried to dry the salt to take it away to be filtered and sold.

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Our jeep pulled up just short of the water, we got out, took our shoes and socks off and went for a walk in the shallow water.

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After a few happy snaps we jumped back in the jeep and headed out to the salt hotel, which is a hotel made of salt bricks. Apparently its now a muesum as the building is now deemed unsafe for a hotel (but apparently safe for a muesum?). We stopped here for lunch, where we ate luma (not alpaca which is much nicer but still good) on salt tables and chairs!

Next we headed back past the town of Uyuni to an old train cemetery, where the first trains that ever entered Bolivia have been left to rot. The grave yard was kinda cool, a heap of really old freight trains just sitting there rusting away, if you ignore the rust it was as if wed walked back in time.

The next couple of hours were spent driving to our home stay place out in the middle of nowhere in the desert. We arrived here, some how managed to find a bottle shop which was quite lucky, had some drinks and the 6 of us played cards for the rest of the night. Oh, funny enough we had some really salty spag bowl for dinner (again wasnt as bad as lukes risotto in London though!).

Friday the 9th of January

Today we spent the entire day driving around in the jeep to a few different Lagoons. The scenery we saw while driving around was amazing, it kind of reminded me of wardi rum in Jordan. Anyway the desert was full of different colours, making it look like those coloured sand bottle you can buy.

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The first Lagoon we pulled up to was Lagoona Canapa which is a salt lake at an altitude of 4500m. On the drive towards it the lake and its salt premiter just appeared in the hilly desert out of no where. We were greeted by a huge flock of pink flamingos who were bathing and eating along the lake. It felt as if we were sitting in the middle of one of those wild life documentaries.

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After some free time to wander we drove on and stopped for some lunch along some rocks before being drive to a few more lagoons, each seeming to get better and better! After the last lagoon, the Red lagoon, which was coloured red from the the minerals and had the most amount of pink flamingos, we were driven to a block of buidings made out of mud bricks for the night. The accomodation was pretty basic, there was no town at all, we were smack in the middle of no where with stones holding down the tin roofs above! Again the six of us spent the night playing cards.

Saturday the 10th of January

4am wake up, and by 4:30 we were away in the jeep driving towards the Geysers to catch the sunrise. My thoughts were whats a geyser??? so I guess you are probably thinking the same. As we found out their a type of hot spring, tiny holes in the surface where water bubles and steam is ejected turbulently. Theyre formed from special hydrogeological conditions in active volcanic areas which exist in only a few places on earth, so their pretty few and far between. We got out of the car for a little look and man it was cold! I didnt realise how old deserts get during the night, espeically high altitude derserts! The geysers looked like there were huge boiling kettles beneath the surface with the steam trying to escape from a tiny hole.

We lasted a couple of minutes before jumping back into the warmth of jeep and driving on. While we were driving the sun started to rise behind the huge sandy mountains, was quite a pretty site!

We headed to the last Lagoon, where there was a hot spring at one edge and theyd created a rock pull to you could go bath. We decided it was far to cold - monique and I were marching on the spot to try and keep warm, there was no chance I was stripping down into my togs! Instead we stood (well actually marching) at the edge of the lake admiring the flamingos who were surrounded in mist that was being created from the clash in water and air temperature. By far the coldest all 3 of us have been in our lives (London is nothing!)

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After some very ordinary breakfast we were back in the jeep headed for the Chilian boarder, where we were dropped off at a shack again in the middle of no where with hand written black paint across it saying "Bolivian Migration". We found a small tower nearby that had Chile written on one side and Bolivia on the other, so Monique had some fun jumping from one country to another while we waited for our Chilian bus to arrive.

Our bus arrived, we were driven to the town of San Pedro where were filled in our paper work and then were dropped off at the next town. Straight away we headed to the bus terminal and managed to get a bus to Calama, where we could get a direct bus south to Santiago. We decided to spend the night at Calama to get a decent nights rest before our marathon 30 bus ride to Pucon!

Sunday the 11th of January

We woke up fresh as daisy, all pumped for what was ahead! We had decided we were just going to gun it down south (2170km to be procise) as we needed to make some ground up in order to get to the southern most point of south america for both Monique{s and mine and Matts flights which were booked months ago.

Anyway for the next 20 hours we sat up a double decker bus, pretty well empty most of the time, playing cards, DS, watching movies and sleeping. The bus was pretty impressive, it was like sitting in business class on a plane. The view out our window pretty much didnt change the whole time - desert!

Monday the 12th of January

We arrived in Santiago 15 minutes ahead of schedule, night bad timing, at a huge bus terminal. We managed to find a bus headed for Pucon that departed in 45 minutes but from a different terminal. We raced over to the right terminal, jumped on our bus and thats where we sat for the next 11 painful hours, playing "I went to the milk bar" and sleeping.

The first 20 hours was okay, but the last 11 on the not so comfy bus was a little bit of struggle.

We arrive in Pucon at about 7pm and were pleasantly suprised with the town. Its within the lake district of Chile, sitting on a giant lake with volcano Villarrica rising behind it (which we will be climbing!) with a very austrian feel to it. It feels like we{re in an alpine village but a fair few degrees hotter.

Anyway we found a nice little triple share cabin with our own living area and kitchen, where we will be spending the next coupld of nights.

We headed out into town to have some dinner, enjoying the feeling of being back in civilisation. I managed to convince Matt to eat a chilli, who ended up making me eat some. When Monique returned from the bathroom we convinced her to eat some also, but the thing was she didnt realise how hot it was until it was too late. God it was funny watching her try and cool her tounge down for the next 10 minutes! So there you have it, we were eating chillis in chile!

Posted by krystalmat 11:33 Archived in Chile

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