Day 23 – Salar de Uyuni en route to Chile

I’ve been on the go for the past few days and honestly, I don’t even know how many hours I’ve been on a bus, jeep, taxi, etc. The only thing that I do know is that it took us 23 hours from Calama, Chile to Santiago, Chile. The biggest con was that Beverly and I were starving and dehydrated because when we had arrived to San Pedro de Atacama, ATMs were not on our side. Thankfully, the bus gave us snacks that consisted of, guess…bread and cheese. Any other day, I would’ve just toss it to the side; however, for being on the bus for this long with no food in our system, I was very thankful. The bus guy manage to sneak me a couple of bread and cheese since he knew about my situation.

After the jungle adventure, Bev and I decided to hit south of Bolivia to Salar de Uyuni for a 3 day and 2 night adventure. What exactly is this city? Well, it is the world’s largest salt flat. It also contains 50% to 70% of the world’s lithium reserves. Basically, a long time ago, there were several lakes around this area that dried up. What remained where two major salt deserts, one being Salar de Uyuni.

Our first stop was the train cemetery. The mining industry had falling to the ground in the 40s, thus a lot of the trains were left behind creating what is now the train cemetery.

Below are some pictures of us exploring the salt flat.

I know it’s going to be winter soon in California but Bev and I got so tanned from the reflection of the sun on the salt flats. Our next stop was Isla Incahuasi “Fish Island”. This place was basically a volcano a long time ago and when it had gone under, the top part of the volcano remained.

Here you will find an area where the Bolivians have a ritual called ‘Mesa’. Basically they sacrificed a lama and offered it to the Pacha Mama, whose blood is spread on the ground and towards the mountains, asking for productivity, luck, health and a good year for everybody.

Our first night was literally in a salt hostel. It was the cleanest hostel I have been in and everything was salt! Floor, bathroom, my room, etc. It was not luxurious by any means since the generator didn’t even come on until 7:30p and was off promptly at 9:00p.

Dinner was french fries and onions. I think since I told them I was not eating meat because I was not feeling well again, they made this dish. It was actually tasty.

The next morning we head off to see lagoons and more lagoons. I wasn’t that intrigued by the lagoons because they all looked the same and I still wasn’t  feeling well that I opted to sit in the car often.

Since the salt desert use to be a lake, there were some cool coral in the middle of no where.

Below is active Volcano Ollague located on the Andes Mountain. You can see the smoke coming out from the top.

I don’t know how our guide Lino is able to do it but he always provide a tasty meal for us, even when it’s from the back of his jeep.

Later we came to an area for this famous Tree Rock. I don’t know why this attracts people but it was cool to look at.

Red Lagoon. If you spot a pink creature, it is a flamingo.

After a long day, we go to our next stop for sleep. I seriously thought we were all in the Bolivian military and just living out of a shack in the middle of the no where.As you can see, our room fitted the 6 of us and our windows were cracked from the wind and cold weather. I would take this place any day then the bed I had in the amazon filled with bugs. It was so cold that night that the water bottle in our jeep froze.

We headed to bed early since there was nothing to do but sleep. We had to be up at 4:30am the next day for more exploring and to drop Beverly and I off at the border to Chile. The tour company was kind enough to give us a bottle of wine! I need to figure out how they make their soup in Bolivia. It’s been the best since I have been here.

Rise and shine at 4:30am to go see the geysers, take a dip in the hot springs, and walk along another lagoon.

After, our guide Lino, dropped Bev and I at the border to cross over into Chile. Now here I am eating my coconut ice cream in Santiago, Chile.

Before I end this post, I wanted to share some facts about the crime rates in Bolivia. I knew before going into this country, that it was very high in crimes; fortunately, I am grateful that I did not encounter it; but was close to it.

There are many protests that happens in Bolivia that when you are travelling, don’t be shocked to be stopped by demonstrations and outbreaks that will not allow for you to cross a town. Roadblocks occur so often that it is suggested you bring extra, food, water, and supply when going on a long bus drive. The U.S. Department of State classifies Bolivia as a medium to high crime threat country. You don’t want to end up like one of these llamas :/

Side note, these llamas are used to be buried under a house that is going to be constructed for luck, prosperity, and more. I have another picture where they draine everything out and leave the fur on to sale at the witch’s market; however, I think, it is okay to be left out in this post.

During my last night in La Paz, the girls and I decided to go out to a Bolivian club. We felt safe since the majority of our hostel staff were there. Around 4am, my sister and I decided to go home while my friend had stayed behind. She had left to a club with these men that prior in the night were trying to sweet talk to us. The men ended up taking her to a house where they locked her in a room and told her that she was going to make a video with them. Thankfully, she was able to talk to one of the guys that had a cross on his necklace and was let go.

I met a couple in the amazon who were “spitted” on by someone on “accident”. She laughed and said it was okay to the guy that had accidentally spitted on her. In the meanwhile, another person came by and asked for directions. While they were giving the directions to guy B, guy A, slipped away with one of their backpacks. This is actually a known trick in the books of Bolivia. So, if you ever feel a drop of water on you, try to think that someone is trying to mug you. It’s kind of hard to turn your brain to think like that but you get use to it.

I also met a guy that was residing at my hostel who got attacked by three men with a knife and took his backpack. I met an Australian who was mugged four times in our area. I also met another person who was attacked in broad daylight.

The point of this story is that if you decide to travel anywhere, please be smart. Don’t walk alone, take official taxi rides, and play it safe. It was pretty eerie knowing all of this had happened around me when I was there for two weeks and am thankful that Beverly and I had a wonderful experience in Bolivia. The friends that we had made, the adventures, and the hostel made it a worth while trip considering we weren’t even planing on going here. Since our visa lasts for 5 years, who wants to come out here with me soon? 🙂

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8 responses to “Day 23 – Salar de Uyuni en route to Chile

  1. Glad you’re safe! My mom travelled South America in the 1970s – can’t imagine how dangerous it was then! She met people who had never seen blonde hair before; they thought she was an angel. Have fun in Chile.

    • I think they are still intrigued by the blondes out in Bolivia. I was told they love them here. Thanks for reading and hope all is well in Co!

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