Climbing out of San Pedro de Atacama we reached the border post to enter Bolivia. This was a small hut with lots of people coming and going. We queued up amidst all the people on trips in 4x4s and were told that to register the truck we had to go somewhere else, 15km from the border. We entered the national park and had to pay £30 which we thought was expensive as we did not get any info or even a map. as usual there were no roads and the distances are vast. The landscape was lunar but encircled with snow capped mountains and volcanos. we passed a dead lake, full of arsenic and then we saw some geysers. There was a natural thermal pool that was very popular with all the tourist trucks but we decided not to go for a dip. The customs for the truck was at 5000 metres and a very bleak spot. It was time to try and navigate our way through the reserve which was not easy. We did find lake Colorada which has red water and 1000s of flamingos which was well worth seeing. By now we seemed to have lost all the tourist trucks and we ploughed on . There was absolutely nothing and nobody and we were travelling at about 8/10 miles an hour. Night fell and we pulled over. It was freezing and next morning we had ice all around the inside of the truck!! thankfully we are warm with lots of layers and blankets and sleeping bags. I keep reminding Terry that I had to insist on the blanket which he thought was superfluous at the time of packing and which has proved to be very much needed. Thankfully we find a little village the next morning that proved we were heading in the right direction. Even the Garmin can't find us at the moment!
At the end of the 2nd day we have travelled about 1 inch on the map and used nearly all the fuel. We are driving across vast stretches of dried out flats and even when there is a road to follow there is an alternative off road which runs parallel and which is usually infinitely smoother as it is usually sandy.the trucks are taking a real hammering and we keep hearing new rattles and bangs!!!!! We find the town of Uyuni and there is a 3 star hotel with a secure car park. We pay £3 to park and £2 each for a shower! Following another freezing night we pay £2 for breakfast in the warm dining room!!!!!!!
The people are very friendly and most of the women are wearing traditional dress with the bowler hat. Fruit and veg is very cheap and petrol 35 p a litre. We have filled all the spare tanks as garages are few and far between and given the slow pace we are using lots! Today we drove onto the salt flats which was amazing, you can't believe it isn't snow. There are lots of people digging with shovels and then loading it into trucks to be taken away. We also visited the railway museum with the last train that was held up by Butch Cassidy, the men love the rusting hulks!!!
Life is extremely primitive for the vast majority of people and getting from 1 place to another quite difficult . I am a real giant as most of the woman seem to about 4 ft tall
There is a real sense of the days and weeks passing quickly and we are aware that our time here must be quite short. Next stop is Potosi and then we head to lake Titicaca and La Paz, although it could take longer than we think given the dreadful roads!!!!!