Wednesday 20 January 2010

Salar de Uyuni

Upon arrival in Tupiza, after securing a room for the night, our first priority was to visit the El Grano de Oro tour operator and see about booking a tour of the Uyuni salt flat.

El Grano de Oro had been recommended to us by a pair of South-African girls on the little boat that evacuated me, my poor elbow and the worried Ewelina from Isla del Sol. We passed the agency as we walked into town looking for accomodation, so we didn't even have to look for it, and when we asked about the tour, we were told that a French couple had been there shortly before us, asking for the same thing, a tour the next morning. The couple was staying in our hotel, so we just walked back, found them and everything was settled. The price: 1150 Bs each, everything except tips and one park entrance fee included. It would be the four of us in a jeep, along with a cook and a driver/guide.

We left the next morning around 9am.

The tour was fantastic: colorful mountains, deserts, weird rock formations, beautiful lakes, hot springs, a natural bath, museums, adobe huts, hotels made of salt, a public phone ringing on a deserted villiage square, a cemetary in a lava field, a flat tire, flamingoes, llamas, wild vicuñas, little rabbit-creatures... and of course the salt flat itself.

The say a picture is worth a thousand words, and we took almost a thousand pictures - the best of which we put online.

The tour was excellent, and although it wasn't the cheapest, during our last meal, in a hotel made of salt, French girls from another tour convinced us we had gotten our money's worth: they literally begged for scraps of our lasagne and wine - they were about to have chicken and rice for the third night in a row. Their guide was a young boy, probably not even 20 years old - ours had been doing the tour for years. We only paid about 100Bs more than they did.

Our main regret was that, due to not doing our homework properly, we didn't realize that the tour we signed up for was mostly about the amazing landscapes South of the salt flats, the flats themselves only got one morning out of the four days we spent on the road. Not that the other three days were wasted - but if we had realized, we might have stayed in Uyuni after the tour, instead of returning to Tupiza, so we could do another tour and spend more time on the salt.

It's an amazing place.

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The past!