31.05.2007 - 02.06.2007 0 °C
Most of the time, I love travelling on my own. Purely for selfish reasons, I don´t like to compromise on what I want to do. There are, however, a few times when having some buddies along would be handy. Booking a trip in the Salar De Uyuni would be one of those times. (I´ve also occasionally thought that travelling with a boyfriend/porter could be handy, mostly when my backpack is getting really heavy due to overzealous shopping in markets) By all accounts, it´s pot luck if you get on a good tour with a reasonable guide and a 4x4 that doesn´t break down, run out of fuel, or worse case scenario, end up on it´s side because of a crazy/drunk/asleep driver! The best you can hope for is to get a good bunch of travellers on your tour. I had hoped to meet some amigos either on the way to Uyuni or once there, but I was the only gringo on my bus and I arrived in Uyuni in the middle of the night, which is not conducive to meeting people! I ended up booking with one of the bigger agencies, Colque Tours, because I´d heard they were pretty consistant, not amazing, but no horror stories either.
So, you can imagine my delight when I opened the door to the 4x4 and saw a familiar face. It took me a couple of seconds to work out where I knew the face from. It was a Alice,a girl from the Parque I had been volunteering at! She left the day after I had arrived, so obvisouly we didn´t know each other well, but it instantly put me at ease. We of course spent most of the trip talking about the Parque (probably to the annoyance of everyone else on the tour) and catching up on the gossip!
As for the tour itself. It was pretty good. I had a great group, we were all from different countries - English, Italian, Brazilian, Canadian, Dutch and Australian (me). Our guide, Pedro, was a nice, older Bolivian. He wasn´t what you would call terribly informative, but he only spoke Spanish so this wasn´t a big deal for me!
As for the scenery, it was amazing and incredibly diverse. Out of this world blinding salt flats as far as they eye can see, a cactus island in the middle. Lakes of different colours, some that looked like tiny oceans, the wind causing small waves to crash upon their shores. Beautiful mountains and volcanoes that look to have been painted against the blue skies. Geyser basins, where mud gurgles and sulpherous steam rise up from the ground. Desert terrain with tiny little villages that makes you wonder why anyone would live there! Llamas, flamingoes and vizcachas (long tailed rodents) pepper the stark surroundings.
Being at some 3653m above sea level, the air is out of breath thin and crisp. I have never been so cold in my life. Our second night we slept in pretty basic accomodations, the beds were made of stone! I had on every piece of clothing I had with me (including my thermals), three blankets, my sleeping bag and liner and I was still freezing. I had bought a handful of alpaca goodies in the markets in Uyuni before the tour, but even they were of no help against that bitter cold night.
Salar de Uyuni
Isla de Los Pescadores
It had to be done!
The group, second night at dinner, very cold!
The geysers. Our third morning. Still very cold!