Crazy Uyuni salt flat trip – day 1
On the 8th April 2012, I woke up in the Hotel Avenida in Uyuni town at 7.30 am, got dressed and went to organize Uyuni Salt Flat with Oasis tours travel agency. Yes, a 3-day trip to El Salar de Uyuni. Then I walked the town around, got some food and bottles of water, bought a bus ticket with Diana Tours to Potosi for the 10th when we come back from the trip.
After I checked out, I left my backpack in Oasis tours office and at 10.30 am was waiting for the jeep to pick me up.
All the other tourists where in the car already, an Austrian couple, a guy from Hong Kong, and a Swedish girl with an Australian guy. Denis was our tour guide for half of the day. He didn’t speak much, he was a bit shy but he was nice.
I was really tired as I didn’t sleep well enough and I had a headache. The altitude was not making it better.
Our first stop was just outside of Uyuni town at Cementerio de Trenes – the Train Cemetery. It is such a cool scary place! There are old trains from 1890’s that were used for carrying the charcoal and silver. Uyuni was the first town in Bolivia to have railway. Nowadays, because of the bad weather conditions, the trains and its parts are oxidated and sometimes the wind makes weird noise there. The coolest ever were the see-saws and swings made from the old parts of the trains where you could properly enjoy this strange haunted place. It was the first time I’ve ever seen a place like this!
After another 40 minutes in the jeep, we stopped in a small village Colchani where we could buy some handicrafts from the local people who make them here. Most of the things are made from salt – key rings, llama statues, ashtrays etc.
Slowly we made our way to the Uyuni Salt Flat itself. First we took some photos at the so called Salt Pyramids – the way to dry up the salt is to make a sort of small pyramid of it and let it dry on the Sun. All around there was a bit water. We were all already covered with salt, it was fun!
Then it was lunch time so Denis drove us to the Salt Hotel Playa Blanca. While he was preparing the lunch for us, we enjoyed the Salt Flat – the never-ending white landscape. Basically everywhere you looked, there was salt. Usually people there take some weird funny optical illusion photos and we also tried but people from my group were not very photography-oriented so it was very hard, unfortunately! Shame as I was really looking forward to those photos! It was hot and the sunbeams were reflecting from the white salt flat and burning our faces even more.
We entered the Salt Hotel and after checking out some handicrafts and the salt statues in the Salt Museum, we walked to the end of the hotel where our lunch was waiting for us. It was such a cool experience! Everything in the hotel was made out of salt, including the chairs, beds, statues, even hotel itself out of salt bricks. We got delicious quinoa which I tried for the first time ever and fell in love with it. I ate it with vegetable salad. The rest of the people got the lunch you can see on the photo, with meat (I don’t eat red meat, only chicken.)
With satisfied stomachs we had to go back to Uyuni without seeing the islands in the salt flat. It was dangerous to go there because of the rain water around them. So we had to take the rain season tour (different one to the normal one when it’s all dry there.)
In Uyuni we changed the tour guide. It was so much fun with Lucio, a 28-year old driver and tour guide in 1. Now, sitting in the front just next to Lucio, I spent the rest of the driving talking to him. Found out more about his life, Bolivia, people here and the history. And then I was translating it all to the rest of the group as just the Austrian girl understood Spanish. I sort of tried to be a tour guide myself, so liked it!
After approx. 2 hours in the jeep, talking and listening to the Bolivian music we all learned by heart after a while, we got to Villa Alota and got our rooms in Alojamiento Urkupiña. I ran outside to take photos of the nicest reddish sunset ever!
Once back inside (it was so windy!), we sat around the table and enjoyed a cup of hot tea with some biscuits. Some of us, who could not survive it without a hot shower, had to pay 10 Bolivianos to get one but I decided to enjoy the tour in the nature without it how it was supposed to be.
The dinner started to smell all around us and soon we got ours, too. We were all really amazed at the tastiness and quality of the meals. First, a hot vegetable soup which we so needed in that cold! And then french fries with meat, tomatoes and eggs, very delicious! I got 3 plates of soup, could not get enough of it!
We talked with the guys and laughed until we got really tired. Around 9 pm we strolled back to our rooms and read. Writing my Slovak diary I realized that this was how I spent the Easter Sunday. Again without my family and without our delicious Slovak food. But with a great group of people instead, with Bolivian food and in the biggest and the highest salt flat in the world!
And now to get some sleep before day 2 of Uyuni tour.
My trip to Uyuni Salt Flat was done by the great travel agency Oasis Tours. For more information about Uyuni Salt Flat trips, please visit Oasis Tours website.