So the 12 hour night bus.... well actually for me it was not that bad since it seems I really can sleep anywhere. We were only 1 & 1/2 hours late departing (honestly I was expecting more) but were given a (just about edible) hot meal, a pillow and a blanket, so this was not as it turned out the rickity local bus jam packed with people and chickens and for that I was greatly relieved. I was set next to a really nice French girl who was teaching in Peru and taking the summer to look around Bolivia (so I picked her brains for pointers on Peru ready for next weeks adventure).
The seat in the bus reclined to a reasonable angle, so I popped my ear plugs in, pulled on my sleep mask and went to sleep. I soon discovered that while the bus was fine, the road was not. The minute we left La Paz the road was non ashphalt and extremely bumpy (thank god I took that Dramamine pill!) on more than one occasion I was woken up as my body took flight and actually left the seat. The other dilemma was how much water to drink to stay hydrated but not to keep needing the bathroom which given the rolling and the lurching of the bus would not be an easy feat, plus I did not want to have to climb over my new French friend. At least the bus had a bathroom though :)
I must anyway have managed to sleep most of the journey as I had to be woken up when we arrived in Uyuni. I connected with Blue Line who my 3 day trip was booked with and killed a couple of hours until departure wondering around this dusty, cold, one horse kinda town looking for a breakfast spot.
At 10:30 I met the rest of my group (5 young French kids, who as it turned out were all Scouts and 18/19 years old), we pilled into our 4x4 jeep and Wilda our driver/guide/cook explained the day to us in Spanish. Seems my Spanish and French will be improving on this trip :)
Sat in the front seat I also enquired about my seat belt to be told not to worry it was broken, but I did not need it anyway (look Wilda pointed out he did not have one!) I am guessing the safety levels out here are pretty much non existent.
First stop was the train cemetery just outside of the town of Uyuni. We arrived at exactly the same time as all the other 4x4s, it seems all the tour companies set off at exactly the same time, 10:30am. We joined the other tourists taking pictures of the rusty old trains, which honestly are really only an attraction in my book due to the stunning back drop behind them and the clear blue sky's above.
After a 30min stop here we started our drive out to the salt flats, with a quick stop in a small village with the obligatory tourist stalls selling more llama tat. We made our way out onto the salt flats and the scenery can only be described as spectacular. The white hexagonal tiled salt floor gave a dazzling contrast against a clear blue sky and it was here in the middle of no where that we had a picnic prepared by Wilda. With the sun now out it was warm and the group had time to take lots of photos.
After lunch we visited Isla Incahuasi (cactus island) a huge rock in the middle of the salt dessert covered in large cactus's. I climbed to the top of the rock and the 360 degree views of the surrounding salt flats were out of this world. This was the view I had travelled so far to see and it was so worth it.
We continued driving a couple of hours through the desert to our salt hotel where we were spending the night. I quickly realized hotel was a stretch, hostel also as a descriptive word would also be a stretch, basic structure made out of salt blocks in the middle if no where, with one shower for 16 people (and an extra 10 Bolivianos ($1.50) for warm water!) was more accurate. I am sharing a room with one of the French girls and have been told the generator which is right next to my bed will be turned off at 10pm, too bad it's 9pm and I want to go to bed now before it gets any colder. As it is tonight I'm sleeping with thermals, PJs, a jumper, hat, gloves and two pairs of socks!