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Not everything is what it seems

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile to Uyuni, Bolivia via Desierto de Siloli and Salar de Uyuni


View Destination - south on ew5827's travel map.

Setting off from San Pedro coincidentally we joined up with another French-Canadian couple for the tour, a father and son. First stop was the border from Chile into Bolivia. It wasn't anything more than a shack really, exposed to the elements and surrounded by snow-capped mountains. A cold wind was blowing as we waited for our papers to be processed and curious Andean fox came to see if there was anything worth scavenging. It was the most incredible setting for a border crossing.

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From that point on it was breathtaking view after breathtaking view. We set out making our own path across the plain; there's no roads just the tyre marks of other 4x4s to follow, or not.

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Throughout the day we visited several beautiful lakes. Each lake was a different colour due to the mineral content churned up when the wind blows. We were fortunate with the clear blue skies and dramatic clouds for some beautiful panoramas.

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Laguna Blanca


Laguna Verde

Laguna Verde

We also visited Sol de Mañana where there are geysers and hot mud pools, and consequently an acrid sulphurous smell!

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Laguna Colorada, was the most dramatic in colour of the lakes that we saw with red water. There was a flock of flamingos in the water. I'd never have expected to see flamingos to be in a place like this.

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On day two we continued our journey through the Siloli desert where there are many fascinating rock formations formed by the wind erosion over many many years. One of the most impressive is Árbol de Piedra (the Rock Tree) which stands about 7m tall in the shape of a tree.

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Further along our journey we came across these little cuties. They're called Viscacha, related to chinchillas I think.

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Our next stop was Laguna Honda; coming down from a slight elevation gave us a great view of the whole lake - my camera lens couldn't quite capture it all.

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We stopped for a bite to eat with another picture perfect view and the company of some opportunistic gulls eagerly flying around us.

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Then finally we started to see what we had been waiting for - signs of salt and that we were finally nearing the Salar de Uyuni! Salar de Uyuni is the world's largest salt flat. In the middle of nowhere, we came across an old railway line, or not so old, as we actually saw it was in use as a small train came past us!

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That night we stayed in a hostel made of salt - the walls, beds, chairs, everything was made of salt bricks, except the pool table! :)

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The next and final day of our tour we got up before sunrise to start our drive out onto the salt flats. The sunrise was beautiful, exaggerated by the mirror image on the glistening salt. Well worth the early start to the day.

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Stopping for photos we had some of the longest shadows I've ever seen, stretching out across the flat.

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On the salt flat, there is a bizarre sight - a hill/mound covered in cactus. I suppose it's not such a bizarre place for cacti to be given it's by a desert but it looked odd popping up in the middle of the salt flat. The rocky hill is called Isla Incahuasi in the native language, Quechua, meaning House of the Inca. It's all that remains of a volcano that lay beneath the prehistoric lake before it dried up and became the salt flat.

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Leaving the cacti behind, we continued out onto the salt flat, as far away from anything else as we could. I'd previously been to the Makgadikgadi Pan in Botswana but I hadn't made the most of the photo opportunity to play with depth perception there so I was keen to do better here. As you can see we had some fun with it!

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After freezing our fingers taking lots of silly photos we drove off the salt flat via a site to see how the locals process the salt.

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Our guide, who I sadly can't remember the name of now, then took us for some tea as his home. He had a very cute little puppy who stole the show and it was a nice end to the trip with him.

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Our final stop was the train graveyard before we finished the tour in Uyuni town.

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This is where we parted ways with the French-Canadian couple we’d been travelling with since the Galapagos. They went south to explore more of Chile before island hopping across the Pacific Ocean to Australia – another incredible adventure for another day perhaps. Next stop for us was the Bolivian capital, La Paz...

Posted by ew5827 17:54 Archived in Bolivia Tagged landscapes mountains lakes volcano geyser

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Such salt chambers are known to be good for health... Thanks for sharing your amazing moments with us here...

by Vic_IV

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