One hell of a grand group trip was about to begin.
Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat, lies to the south of Bolivia, about 10 hours away with a vaguely comfortable bus.
Miles and miles of pristinely white, glistening crystals. I was looking forward to visiting this site for a long time as it's a very unique photo opportunity, full of dizzying optical illusions and blinding whites and blues - my favourite colour combination!
The place is gigantic, as you can see from this photo which I took from space. ;)
After our 10 hour bus journey, we explored the small town of Uyuni - flat, simple and very, very dry! There were a few shops too, so we had a little gander at some of the woolly clothes.
We then made a start on the journey. The only way to explore the salt flat is with a 4x4, and so we did.
Our first stop was an eery looking location - Cementario del Trenes/The Train Cemetery. Salar de Uyuni is intersected by a gigantic rail line, which transported goods from La Paz to the Pacific Ocean via Chile. The trains are now abandoned to the elements, and now act as a very cool adulterated playground.
After a bit of exercise and a tetanus scare, we pressed on to our next location. We drove deeper into the Salt Flats.
We had to get out and have a little pose.
It became incredibly windy in the middle of the salt flat. I was well-prepared with my poncho! Best purchase yet!
Being surrounded by only white desert was a very liberating experience. A lot of us burst into dance.
The desert went on and on and on...
We stopped at the Salt Hotel and nabbed some lunch - grilled llama and quinoa. Really basic but really delish!
Afterwards we had a play around around the world flags, which were slapping and flapping in the desert wind.
We enjoyed a long drive out into the centre of the Salt Flats, to Incahuasi Island.
Incahuasi Island makes the whole place seem like an ocean of salt crystals. The island rises out of the crystals, made of brown rock and is saturated with giant cacti. It stands out from miles away!
When I found out I was going to Bolivia, I decided to do a bit of research. Photos of this island were constantly popping up in my Google searches. It feels totally surreal being in a place that you've seen so many photos of - it felt like it wasn't real.
We were knackered after our climb, and very dehydrated. So after we refreshed, rehydrated, and we were back in our jeep to head to our hostel. It was a long drive, but I didn't mind so much. I find driving pretty relaxing, especially in the passenger seat! It's like watching a long, relaxing movie.
We arrived at our hostel and were initially pretty shellshocked - it was essentially a hut, with a tin roof, and a few beds. After about an hour, we warmed to it. It had a nice, open communal area, and the bedrooms had floors made out of powdered salt!
After we ate dinner, we wandered outside with our blankets and watched the stars. There were no towns or cities anywhere nearby, so we were able to enjoy all of the astro-drama - twinkling, shooting stars, space clouds - without any disturbances. We lay on the ground, pretending we were in our very own Windows 98 screensaver, until we were needy of bedtime.
After breakfast, we boarded our jeeps again, and raced off into the desert towards the Chile border. On our agenda: volcanoes, mountains, lakes, flamingoes and searing hot springs.
Read about it in my next post!
Thanks for reading!