Bolivia, here we come!!The usual traveler route to get from north Chile to Bolivia is on a 3 day salt flats trip, and I had been recommended this trip by so many people.We booked the trip in San Pedro with a company called Pamela to start the next day.The trip costs 50,000 Chilean Pesos (so just over 50 pounds) for 3 full days in the jeep, and all food and accommodation, so pretty good really.There are some hardcore travelers who make their own way to Bolivia first to get the trip cheaper, but that's just silly to me.We had a really nice group - a Swiss couple, a German girl, a Belgian guy and me and Claudia.Of course they all spoke 17,000 languages!!They were lovely.The trip started in a very amusing way for me (and for everyone else at my expense) when we got to the Chile/Bolivia border, and the guide told us to get our visa passes out, and I said ´what visa passes?´ .Yes that's right, I had no idea what they were talking about and why everyone else had pretty little bits of paper and I didn´t.Turns out that I did recognise the piece of paper, and asked the guide immediately to get my large pack off the top of the car.I rummaged around and finally found my journal and there it was.Stuck on one of the first pages because I thought it looked pretty.Good work Hans.I had to go up to the border official with my passport, and a pretty bright piece of blue journal paper, and all I managed to say was Lo Siento!!I was OK though - nothing more that I slightly confused look and he stamped my passport.Must learn to take some things abit more seriously!!As we got out the car just after the Bolivian border and had a taster of the weather that was to come.It was so cold I couldn´t do a thing.We were 4000m above sea level.I have never felt that cold before I don't think.We met our guide and his wife who was cooking the food, and we hit the road.Our first stop was some hot pools and then to the smelly geysers.This was the highest bit of the tour at 4800m above sea level.I was in a fairly bad way at this point.I felt abit sick, but the main thing was that I just couldn´t control my legs.It was a crazy feeling.I kept tripping over, and this added with the pain from the horse riding, I was feeling pretty delicate.Tried munching on the old Coca Leaves, but that didn´t really help.I didn´t realise what a massive part of the Bolivian culture the Coca leaves are.Funny to see the workers walking around with these huge hamster cheeks full of Coca leaves.We arrived at our hostel for lunch about 2.30pm, and then went to check out more Flamingos.You just can´t get enough of those bad boys!!Then dinner and a vey cold bed.I was in 8 layers, a sleeping bag and 3 Alpaca Blankets, and was still cold.It hurt, it really did.Going to the toilet in the night has never been so painful!Day 2 consisted of an early start, heading off to the lagoons.It also consisted of A LOT of weeing.When you go down in altitude, it makes you wee.We were going every 20 minutes without fail.And there are no baños in the desert, so a lot of squatting went on that day.The most imaginative was when Claudia just couldn´t find anything the hide behind, so had to use my legs and a shield.That night we stayed in a beautiful salt hostel, which actually had hot running showers!It was like heaven.It was Akill´s birthday so we had a crazy night of drinking wine and playing Uno to celebrate!Day 3 was a 4.30am start to ensure we saw the sunset.It was one of the most amazing views of my entire trip.Nothing but salt and mountains whilst the sun came up!Then we drove to the Cactus Mountain for more fabulous views.I made a video to show how pretty it is.The rest of our time was spent taking silly pictures involving spoons on the salt, and helping a couple get out of a very tricky car situation on the wet bit of the salt flats.It was proof why you go in a 4x4!Check out the pics - very amusing and made our guide some very good quick cash (he actually made one third of his monthly salary in the 2 hours it took to get them free).And it kept us entertained!
We arrived in Uyuni for our last lunch together and headed off to find a hotel! We went out for a very Gringo dinner at Minute Man and another early night. Uyuni is pretty, but doesn´t have alot to offer, so we booked our bus ticket for the next morning at 10am. We were still waiting for the bus at 3.15pm, but thats just Bolivia. We also reversed into a wall, and blew a tire! He ho - there were loads of us so all good fun!