Next day onto La Paz via the land boarder into Bolivia. This was extremely painless it only took Susie a couple of minutes to sort out her American Visa (glad I am not from US cost them to enter nearly everywhere in SA). The boarder town was a very hippie area called Copacabana even though it is no where near a beach. We didn´t stop for long but enough to decide we are going to come back after the trip has finished for some hiking. Then it was back on the bus to La Paz where we arrived fairly late. We stayed in the hotel to eat and between the group we managed to get through a fair few bottles of wine. Well it was time to sat goodbye to some members of the group. We ended up spending the early hours sat in the room of the two members of the group who had a flight at 4.00 in the morning. It wasn´t the best planning.
The next day everyone seemed to be ill but not from hangovers susprisingly so when we met the two new members of our group they thought we were a pretty sickly group. On the plus our new guide seemed to be pretty organised we even got an itinery so for once we will no what to expect each day. We ate at the the hotel again as it was mayday and all the cafes were closed.
The next day was a long bus and train ride to Uyuni for the start of the salt plains trip. We were warned it was going to be cold when we got off the train and she was right summer is over. Even thought it was 11.00 at night we managed to get some delicious pizzas before bed.
We set off earlish in the morning in the jeeps straight across the salt plains. I have never seen so much salt I don´t think they will ever run out. It looks like a huge blanket of snow and extremely flat. It was exactly like it had been described to us the blinding white expanse of nothing and the clear blue sky. We stopped at the heart of the salt plain at Isla Incahuasi which is a huge island stuck in the middle covered in huge cactus. We spent a couple of hous making silly pictures as due to the flatness we look like we are holding each other in our hands and crawling into small objects (look at the pictures you will understand). Then we had a walk around the island we could feel the altitude again (3653m). Lots of opportunties for photos. Our last chance as our new camera has now decided to pack in. After lunch we headed for camp but not before one of the jeeps got stuck in the clay. After an hour of trying different methods of releasing the car they gave up and took us to the hostel leaving themselves a long night ahead of sorting the jeep out in the dark. When we got to the little village the hostels all seemed full and it seemed we may be spending the night in the jeep but our boss guy showed his wrath and got us into the first place we stopped at. Very basic prison type rooms except for we didn´t have tv or the comforts they have but despite the cold we all got a fairly good night sleep.
Our second day of the trip was flamingo spotting and lots of lakes on our way through the desert. The first few lakes were very blue but also very windy and cold many with ice patchs. The flamingos were very red/pink but didn´t like to get too close to us. It started a debate on why flamingos stand on one leg. Is it balance or so they look more like a tree when they are trying to catch food? Who knows. We also saw a volcano which was surrounded by lots of rocks to climb so Aaron made the most of it. Just before our last stop for the day we stopped at a sight which reminded me of Elephant rocks in Oz as it had lorts of rocks again to climb plus a very strange rock formation that looked like a tree. The last lake of the day was amazing. Laguna Colorado is a fiery red lake. It gets its colour from the algae and plankton that thrive in it. The contrast of the blue, red and white ice was amazing and it was a habitat for many more Flamingos. The walk back to the hostel was the coldest yet I thought my ears were going to drop off. Its so strange to have such clear blue skys but be so freezing. At night the sky was amazingly clear never knew there were so many stars. We had larger prison cells tonight as we were in dorms. We all slept with about 6 blankets over us.
At 5.00 we had a wake up call so we could carry on into the desert for sunrise. It was extremely cold even with 4 layers of clothing on. The geysers were pretty spectacular. Aaron had fun jumping through one of them which was pretty powerful. He said it warmed him up when he jumped through it though. I opted to stay in the jeep. The second lot of geysers had the bubbling mud like the ones we saw in New Zealand and lots of big holes so not wise to get too close. After the sun rise we stopped for lunch then headed to our private hotsprings where Aaron was brave enough to jump in. As a consequence he managed to convince a few others to jump in who found out it wasn´t as hot as he had made out. After that everyone had fun skidding on the ice Aaron being the ringleader of course! Then onto the green lake which was very green. I had fun building up my rock tower which was not too successful the first time, hopefully the final version is still standing. Then back to Uyuni for more delicious pizza before our next journey to Potosi.