Hello! We're in Bolivia now, we spent a few more days in Ticara as we liked it so much. Sean fitted in 3 more final Argentinian steaks and it worked out well as we bumped into Chris and Helen again, the English couple we'd met in a few places in Argentina. We spent an evening drinking fernet, the local herby spirit, watched the sunset and arranged to meet in Bolivia to see the salt flats.
The boarder crossing was easy, the transport wasn't as easy but we got a seat on a bus after a 7 hour wait and met another English couple, Kevin and Natasha, who also wanted to see the salt flats. We headed to a small town called Tupiza on a bus with 4x4 wheels that vibrated like crazy along the rocky path for 3 hours. It was so full as the locals get on at the last minute, I think it's cheaper for them that way. We ended up with a cute little girl on our laps as she was falling asleep standing up!
In Tupiza we arranged a salt flats tour for when Chris and Helen arrived a couple of days later. We spent the 2 days wandering around the local food market, admiring the local women in their big velvet skirts and small bowler hats (I'll try and download some photos when we can find a better internet connection!) and just relaxing before the trip.
The salt flats trip was 4 days in a jeep with a driver and a cook, Ernesto and Stacey. I could go on and on about the trip as we saw the most amazing and beautiful things but I'll try and cut it down a bit! There was a lot of driving but the scenery was fantastic.
We spent the first day driving up through rocky mountains, as the sights are all at high altitude, the highest point we reached was 5000m on the second day. We stopped for lunch in an open field full of llamas,chased them around for a bit trying to get good photos but they generally liked to show us their backsides when we got close! Around the field little dusty tornadoes were forming, as we pulled away we drove straight through the middle of one. That afternoon we stopped in a little town and were surrounded by kids wanting to see photos of our families, luckily the others were better at Spanish than us and chatted to the kids more than we could. That night we stayed in a small adobe village, adobe is the mud used for the houses, it helps to regulate the temperature. The boys played football with some local boys and were beaten 4-0, they blamed the altitude! The accomodation was very basic and cold at night but we had a toilet and a tap, and Stacey made us some good vegetable soup!
The second day we got up at 5am as there was a lot to see. We stopped at a small ruin of a town fist of all then we headed towards some lagoons. The first one we got out to see was Kollpa laguna, the lake was beautiful, it was so still that there was a perfect reflection of the mountains and clouds with fantastic colours. There were flamingos in the centre of the lake all chatting to each other, when they flew they looked amazing with their pink and black wings. The ground around the lake was like a big meringue, when you stepped on it brown stuff oozed out like toffee sauce!
That afternoon we stopped at some thermal baths, it was really nice in the water and the mountains in the background made it really special. We visited Laguna Blanca and Laguna Verde, green and white lagoons next to each other with an extinct volcano behind them on the boarder with Chile. Just when we thought we couldn't see any more amazing sights we stopped to see the geisers, caused by underground volcanic action (this would be a geography teacher's dream!). There were massive craters in the ground releasing lots of steam, it was a bit smelly but amazing to see. The last stop was Laguna Colorado, a massive red lake with more flamingos, again it was so beautiful, we couldn't believe what we'd seen that day. The accomodation was even more basic with no taps or working toilets but the sights made it worthwhile.
The third day wasn't as busy, we saw some stone trees in the morning and stopped for lunch near (but not too near) an active volcano with smoke puffing out of one side. We sat amoungst the moon like lava field from an eruption 20,000 years ago. That night we stayed in a hotel made completely of salt, it was nice to have a warm shower and our own rooms. We played dice games, had some wine and got an early night so we could get up for sunrise.
On the last day we went into the salt flats and watched the sunrise, like Kev said it was like looking out of the window on a plane because we were surround by a massive expanse of white, the photos don't show how lovely it was. After that we walked to the top of fish island, a cactus covered island in the salt flats where fishermen used to live. We spent a couple of hours taking stupid photos on the salt flats, the perspective there means you can take photos with silly props...After the salt flats we stopped in Uyuni, got a train at 1.45am for 7 hours followed by a bus for a few hours to La Paz. We were tired but happy that the trip went so well. We had to say goodbye to the others which was sad but hopefully we'll meet up again at some point.
We've only been in La Paz for half a day but we've already seen lots of crazy street markets full of women in traditional dress selling all sorts of things from zips to massive piles of bananas. We're going off to explore a bit more now - sorry this blog is so long, we just had such a good time...Love you all lots! Vic xx