Thursday, 26 April 2012

Salt Flats Tour - Day 2

The next day we got up for breakfast and were packed, ready to leave and piled into the jeep around 8.30am.

After promising to detox (which lasted about 1 day), we were all a little hungover from playing games and drinking rum in our room.

We had a busy day ahead of us with lots of driving in the desert while stopping on the way at famous view points and lagoons. From horizon to horizon there was nothing ahead of us but desert and it was going to be like that for the next 2 days. Toilet breaks consisted of stopping and finding a place that you were slightly sheltered, which in the middle of a mostly flat desert is pretty hard!

First of all we went to a rocky part of the desert, and the rocks were actually the result of volcano eruptions hundreds of years ago. In the distance, we were surrounded by volcanos (some of which were still active) and mountains. By this point we were very close to the border of Chile. It was a strange contrast being in the middle of the dry desert and looking around to see smoking mountains, sand and snow.

We then set off on a 2 hour drive through sand dunes and dust tracks to a famous lagoon - but I can't remember the name. The whole area that we had entered was the Reserva Nacional De Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaron - and it is a protected area.

Again the scenery was pretty epic with mountains in the background. The weather was nice and sunny too so the waters were really calm, meaning that the reflections of the scenery in the water matched up perfectly. We had lunch here - some yummy chicken with pasta and veg, before moving onto the 'rock tree'. Again this is formed from volcano eruptions and happens to look like a tree. Apparently it's good luck to visit....they obviously expect alot of people to come here, because there was an actual toilet block nearby, luxury!

At this point we were at an altitude of around 4500m and were all getting more and more effected by it.

Our next stop was a famous red lagoon, and here over 2000 flamingos live in the wild! Ahhhhh, it was so nice to see, especially as they are classed as quite an exotic animal. The colour of the lake was so vibrant and it was hard to believe that it was natural. We spent a while here flamingo watching from a distance and spotting the pink birds on the red and blue waters.

Around 4pm we arrived at our hostel, which was very basic with barely any running water - nightmare when you are covered in sand and dirt from the desert! We all knew we would be covered in a layer of grim until the end of the trip and had come to terms with it.

We spent the evening playing cards before having an early night in preparation for a 4am wake up call the next morning.