Uyuni is a town that you don't need to stay in but the only reason to go is visiting Salar de Uyuni, the worlds largest salt flat. When we left La Paz we took a bus to a town called Oruro and it was quite a depressing city. But we took a train from Oruro to Uyuni which allowed us to relax a bit and see amazing scenery. We went by Lago Poopo and saw our first glimpses of flamingos. The down side to the train was the awful movies that were played. I seriously do not understand why every time we have been in long bus rides or other means of transport, the companies play the worst movies. But alas after about seven hours on the train we made it to Uyuni around 10:30pm and found a hostel to stay for the night.
The next day we met up with the tour agency we booked through to start our 3D/2N trip to the salt flats. There were six of us; Suzie from New Zealand who spoke no Spanish and within a week of being in South America got herself a Spanish speaking man, his name was Herman and he was from Colombia, interesting couple haha, then also Angie from Costa Rica who spoke no English and lastly Jesus from Peru. Overall it was a good group. We piled into the land rover and drove to our first stop, the train cemetery. A couple of decades ago Uyuni and most of Southwest Bolivia were huge mining areas but eventually were depleted and the railroad system virtually shut down. After stopping at the cemetery we got back in the car and continued on to see the infamous salt flats. Michelle and I were told to bring a little toy or something to get really cool and trippy photos but we kind of missed the whole memo on what to actually do. If you look at other peoples Salar de Uyuni photos, they look awesome, ours are boring haha. Our guide, Rafael, only let us stay there for about 15 minutes anyway so we got a few photos and just took in the vast salt desert that looked never ending. I am really glad we did this trip but it was mostly driving and occasionally stopping just for photos. We also thought the whole trip consisted with just Salar de Uyuni itself but we actually drove far more west and south than I thought and we made it the Chilean border. Oo and I was so tempted to go there also but Chile will have to wait for another trip haha.
On the first day we also stopped at "Isla" Incahuasi which was basically a desert hill surrounded by the salt flat. There were tons of giant cactus' and we climbed to the top to get an amazing above view of the salt desert. Around 4pm we made it to where we would be staying for the first night. A little alojamiento (family run hotel) that was entirely made out of salt. The ground was salt granulates, the tables and chairs and bed support was all made out of salt. Luckily though the restroom was normal haha. We had dinner and I explained how to play Presidents & a******s very horribly in Spanish with our group, which was quite entertaining.
We woke up the next morning at 6am and had breakfast and got an early start to the days ventures. We drove all the way south to Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andino Eduardo Avaroa and drove by numerous lakes which had tons of flamingos. I think I took about 40 photos alone of flamingos haha. One of the lakes we visited was Laguna Colorada which was red in color due to high amounts of algae. As we continued driving, I was on animal alert (well like I always am haha). There were small herds of vicuñas here and there and at one point a saw a few birds which looked like kiwi's but really had no idea what they were. About five minutes after spotting the birds I saw a fox to our right, so we stopped and Rafael grabbed a piece of bread and tossed it to the fox. One of the last stops we did on this day was visiting Arbol de Piedra, Stone Tree. It was a rock in the shape of a tree from years of rain and wind and was surrounded by other larger rocks which of course Michelle and I had to climb a bit. Basically was it from day 2, like I mentioned a lot of driving in this tour and stopping at times for photos. When we arrived to where we were staying on day two, we all got one look at our beds and burst out laughing. There were about six rooms each with seven beds and a particular theme, ours was pretty pink Disney Princess and Barbie.
Since we arrived there at 3pm, super early, with nothing to do I taught everyone how to play Bulls***, but in Spanish so Mierda! I love how many American card games have some type of bad word in the title haha. This was also the night we all almost froze. Apparently salt is great for insulation and we were further south so at night it got to at least 10 degrees. We were glad we brought our sleeping bags for extra warmth.
On the third and last day we woke up at 4:30am, had breakfast and left when it was still dark out. The night sky was absolutely beautiful but it was still freaking freezing. After about an hour or so of driving we made it to Sol de Mañana geyser basin which was really cool to see especially at sunrise. Our guide told us we could take photos near them but not get too close as the rising plumes of smoke were toxic. So we listened but we saw numerous stupid tourists putting their hands in it and practically their heads as well. Obviously I am a tourist down here, but I admit I really hate a lot of tourists we have encountered here. Most are incredibly rude, ungrateful and idiotic but whatever I am here for me, to experience these cultures and see new things.
After the geysers, we continued driving south to Laguna Verde, which is about 15 miles from the Chilean border on the southern end of Bolivia. We also got lovely views of a few active volcanoes in the area. Afterwards, we drove back up north and took a stop at the Baños Termales, or hot springs. It was really just one smallish sized pool but it still felt really good. That ended up being our last stop of the trip and then we needed to drive the roughly six hours back north to Uyuni.
We did stop for our last lunch at Valle de Rocas, which was another beautiful area. But of course as we were about 30 minutes outside of Uyuni, we got a flat tire. So Rafael pulls over and switches to the spare as us tourists are just waiting on the side of the road, watching and being useless. But Rafael was a badass and got it all fixed and we finally made it back to Uyuni. Our group split ways and Michelle and I stayed one more night in town since we were heading to Sucre the next day. In town we went out to dinner and tried ordering several different veggie items off the menu but the lady basically had nothing healthy so finally settled on a tortellini dish. While we were at dinner, there were two British guys there so we chatted with them for a bit. They were very nice and funny but they were leaving that night on a bus to La Paz. Michelle and I left Uyuni the next morning on our way to Potosi. And car trouble again as we were about 15 minutes outside of Uyuni, the bus breaks down so we had to wait on the side of the road for about an hour until a new bus came to pick us up. Finally we arrived to Potosi and we saw it was quite a depressing city to stay in and our only motivation in visiting was because my guide book said it was the highest city in the world, which is untrue. So we hopped onto another bus and made it to Sucre. One s*** thing to mention with our experience with Bolivian buses is the lack of toilet on board. It is inhumane, tourists are not the only people who have bladders and need to use a restroom. At one point even our bus driver stopped so he can relieve himself while local women knocked on the door to try and ask to go on the side of the road as well. But after about seven hours on buses we made it to Sucre. This city is far better than Potosi and I will be posting a blog from here within the next few days.