Salt and Sand

by

Many have seen the pictures but it isn’t until you are there that you can fully appreciate the complete other-worldly landscape of the Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flats in the world, fields of bright white expanse in south western Bolivia. The easiest way to see the flats for yourself is through a tour, which we organised from La Paz so we could just jump off our overnight bus from the capital onto the jeep in which we would spend the next three days, driving through salt and surrounding desert.

This is what we saw:

Welcome to the Salar de Uyuni

Isla del Pescado, or "Fish Island", in the middle of the Salar. This is where we stopped and had an alpaca steak lunch which came out of the back of our jeep.

Our trusty (except for the loose hind left weel) salt mobile.

Then we did the requisite Salar shots with and without props…

I kick your head

Mrs Keats, my old ballet teacher, would be proud?

Dix points for Cutler

Teetering on bottles

The Uyuni Kid

Shoveling salt

Apparently, 50% of the world’s lithium stock is sitting under the Salar de Uyuni (via Jaimito Simpson).

We then glided on to our accommodation for the night at a salt hotel.

Salt hotels are actually brown, not white. The beds were surprisingly comfortable.

The following day we were back in the jeep by 6:30 to drive down to the coloured lagoons in the surrounding desert. The water in these lagoons is naturally coloured from the different minerals found in the area.

This lagoon was just blue, but it had flamingoes in it!

These guys kept having what looked like meetings, and then would walk up and down the lake in unison. Mating dance? Pastime? Entertainment for the tourists?We need David Attenborough to explain.

A real live wild flamingo. Pretty amazing. But we think they were broken because they wouldn't stand on one leg.

It was kind of ridiculous that we were getting photos of wild flamingoes doing their flamingo thing on some remote lake in the Bolivian desert, surrounded by mountains. We both had to admit that we are pretty lucky.

Just a picture with the flamingoes, nothing special...

Lunch by the flamingo lake with the jeep crew: Philip and Eline from Belgium, travelling for a year, and Pierrick and Yannick, the French pompiers from St Malo. The latter two were about 3 metres tall and could barely fit into the jeep.

Surrounding landscape

Cutler takes a break from all the boring stuff.

Uyuni was where we saw the stone tree. (If this looks familiar it's because Dali used it in a painting)

A bunch of insignificant rocks.

A bunch of insignificant rocks.

Well camouflaged.

Next was the Laguna Colorada, a red lake in the middle of the desert, with some more flamingoes.

Laguna Colorada

The Laguna Colorada is red from the algae in its water.

We called it a day after that and headed to our accommodation for the night, on the edge of the desert where it was bloody FREEZING.

Twilight in the desert. I decided to bring out the alpaca socks bought in La Paz and finally gave in to the true traveller spirit in me -- llama socks over leggings, flip flops and shorts, doesn't get much chic-er than this.

The next morning we woke up at the ridiculous hour of 4.30 AM, which sadly is now quite common in our traveller life, to go see the geysers before going for a thermal bath in the freezing cold.

Marc among sulfurous fumes.

Marc, Philip and Eline all jumped into the thermal baths after doing the changing room dance in subzero temperatures. I was not so easily convinced, but caved in after witnessing the blissful smiles on their faces. So I braved the cold, changed into my bikini, and jumped in. Best decision ever! (But it was very hard to get out.)

And now, time for a hot bath. But we will not provide you with changing rooms. And it is freezing outside.

Hot springs of Polques

Post-bath breakfast table show and tell.

Heading to the Dali desert

Marc decided he'd had enough of us.

Mountains coloured from the various minerals in the area.

Another lake. (This is one supposed to be green)

The team

We then headed back to Uyuni, and stopped at the famous Train Graveyard, where steam locomotives have gone to die. Abandoned to the elements on the edge of town, on a vast plain under neverending skies, these rusting trains from another era are eerily beautiful.

"Urgente! Se necesita mecanico con experiencia." (Urgent! Experienced mechanic needed.)

This is where the adventure ends.

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9 Responses to “Salt and Sand”

  1. cynthia cutler Says:

    Wow these are the best photos yet. Marc you are looking very slim. Are you eating enough !!!! Take care. Love Mum

  2. cynthia cutler Says:

    These are the best photos yet. Marc you are looking really slim. Are you eating enough. Lots of love. Mum xxx

  3. Brian Says:

    I think your F-Stop and ISO levels are off

  4. lyn Says:

    I agree with mum! you look skinny!!! but wow omg all that salt! wot an encredible experience! I need a holiday, let me know when safe to meet up!??
    agu! with all that salt you just need a bottle of tequila & some lemons! :)x

  5. Alexandra Says:

    Amazing pictures! Wow!

  6. kenji Says:

    You’ve already done lots of adventure! I envie you.
    I’ll also do such a thing soon with Eulalia before we get too old.
    How long you still have to go, now?

  7. Ben Says:

    Great to meet you guys last night in BA. This site is terrific; wonderful photos of monkeys!

  8. sarah and ben Says:

    Hi guys,
    These photos are amazing. It was really nice to meet you last night. Hope the rest of your trip is equally fun, and look forward to following along on your blog.
    Cheers,
    Sarah and Ben

  9. Fabien (from BA) Says:

    Great photos !! I’m so jealous .. 🙂
    Hope you’re having a great time in Australia.

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