After the bus ride from hell and making it to San Pedro de Atacama (which was a non event) we booked on a salt flats tour that would take us from Chile to Bolivia. Unfortunately, that meant not a long time in Chile, but we want to get used to altitude and see some more sites before we hit up the Inca Trail April 9th.
We did our research on the companies, because you don't want to end up with a rusted bomb and a driver that gets drunk every night. We used Cordillera - would recommend for anyone else coming this way. They threw us in 4WDs at the Chile/Bolivia border. We were a group of 21 split over four vehicles. Would also recommend trying to get someone in your car that speaks Spanish. We didn't... But with Justine's abilities and what I have learnt so far, we managed to get by! We had two Irish girls join us in our Nissan Patrol with our driver, Rodrigo. We were stoked with our group as we all got along great! Some others had people that we would NOT want to be stuck in a 4WD for three days...
We set off on day one of our salt flats adventure. In hindsight, it might have been better to call it "the lagoon tour with salt flats at the end" as we saw copious lagoons, flamingos and volcanoes. We tried to speak some Spanish to Rodrigo. The best we could get was to call him "cariño" which means "darling" in Spanish. The other drivers thought it was hysterical and that Rodrigo was the ladies man. As we were all trying to combat altitude sickness, we were drinking copious amounts of water. I can't say if it's the altitude. Or the four litres of water we drank. But let's just say, toilet breaks were required far more often than normal...
The desert was absolutely freezing and the wind rolled in across the lagoons. We wandered around taking pictures with our new Irish pals when - disaster struck! Roisin stepped in a muddy sinkhole disguised as grass. She was up to her shin, which resulted in a recuse attempt from myself and Kim. Eventually we got her out. But the shoe remained. Roisin had to stick her arm in to rescue it. And wow - did it stink! She hobbled back to the car where Rodrigo took us to the hostel and she could dry off.
Our first night we were served up soup and pasta - as many of you know. Justine is gluten intolerant. So she opted for the soup. We explained to the staff this was because she was allergic to flour. They then told us that there was flour in the soup... Poor Justine. Meant she had a date vomiting into the toilet bowl for most of the night.
Day two on the tour was much the same. Cold, many lagoons, rock formations and lots of photo opportunities. The highlight would have been the salt hotel we stayed in that night. It was bizarre walking across salt to get to your room, walls from salt, eating from table made of salt - on the plus side. If you wanted more salt on your dinner. It's easily accessible!
Day three finally arrived and this was the one we were most looking forward to. Sunrise on the salt flats, followed by breakfast on an island of coral and cactus - yes, once upon a time it was under water. Then a photo shoot with all those typical salt flats pictures that you've all seen thousands of times. Then sadly our day trip was at an end. We arrived in Uyuni - the town where there is nothing and planned our next adventure.