Monday, 23 April 2012

Salt Flats Tour - Day 1

So we got up in the morning and packed our mini backpacks, as this is all we were allowed to take with us for the 3 days - which was actually quite a challenge with such limited space when we knew it was going to be very cold, especially at night.

At 10.30am we met with our tour guide 'Speedy' (who was missing a few teeth but spoke perfect English), and loaded all of our stuff into the truck. As there was 7 of us, we all fit into one car with the driver which was good as it was sort of like our own private trip and we could have our iPods and music on etc.

The truck was hilarious though - the speedometer didn't work and the steering wheel was set to straight a 45 degree angle from where is should be!

Our first stop was the 'famous' Locomotive Graveyard just outside Uyuni. This is basically just a part of the desert which is where they keep all of the original old rusty trains from when the railway was first built and used in Bolivia. It was like a huge kids playground and we spent about half an hour there climbing on the trains and generally messing around!

We then headed towards the 'factory mill' where they extract the salt from the natural flats and bag it before distributing it all over Bolivia. We learnt about the process and had a mini demonstration of how it's all done, before looking at a tiny museum which showcases massive sculptures made out of only salt. Even more amazing though is that the people who live and work near the flats, have built their houses out of salt blocks- not quite sure what happens when it rains though?!

We then headed to the stunning flats themselves to have a picnic lunch (on chairs and tables made out of salt) and take some photos. The landscape is just like nothing I have ever seen before. Wherever you look the white goes onto the horizon and gleams under the sunlight. We visited just outside of the rainy season, which also meant the the flats had a glean of water over them, making it even more dazzling and sometimes blinding to look at because of the sun reflections.

After having a couple hours to take all of this in, and create some funny photos (the boys insisted on taking a naked full month photo!) - we got back into the truck and set off for a 2 hour journey to the hostel where we would be staying the night.