tagged bolivia, panorama and salar de uyuni
We joined a tour in San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. The tour took us from the Bolivian border in the south, driving though the desert and salt flats and terminating in Uyuni. The highlight is the visit to the Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flats in the world. There is an estimated 10 billion tons of salt on the 1048 square miles that make up the salt flats. The trip is only about 180 miles in total, but it takes 3 days to get to the salt flats. It requires a bit of hardship, and there’s no avoiding it (when traveling south to north). On days 1 and 2 we mostly visited various lagoons– the green, red, white lagoons, as well as a thermal hot springs, and the morning sun geyser basin. The scenery was picturesque and beautiful, but the driving through the desert, slow and dusty.
Dealing with the altitude was difficult. At our highest we were at 4270 meters. Shortness of breath, dehydration and headache occurs, along with the continued need to pee. The high altitude also means that temperatures vary greatly. It can be cold and windy even with the sun out, making it necessary to be bundled up. My daytime outfit: a jacket, sweater, hoody, long sleeve tee, short sleeved tee, camisole, leggings, jeans, two pairs of socks, hat and gloves. If the wind dies down, it’s possible to strip down to a long sleeved top.
Our first night, the11 of us on the tour were split into 2 dorm rooms–which in itself was not my favorite–to sleep with 6 strangers in the same room. But the real issue was dealing with no heat in the rooms and having bathrooms outside. The temperature was around about 5′F outside. Inside, Mike and I squeezed into a single bed hoping for shared body heat. With 5 heavy blankets, a sleeping bag each, and my daytime outfit, I was just about right. Our second night, we stayed in hotel made of salt. We had a private room and bath with hot water. It was not nearly as cold as the first night, even without heat.
The third morning we woke at 5am to catch the sunrise on the Uyuni Salt Flats. This was beautiful. With the first light of the sun reflecting off the hexagon-like pattern of the salt flats, it was just incredible. Once the sun was up, it was impossible to look onto the salt flats without sunglasses.