Warning: Another very photo heavy travel post, avoid on mobile networks.
We woke up after the first day of our Salt Flat tour to a small scorpion in our shower, so I felt rather glad I had showered before bed and even more glad I had stored my boots upside down on the floor. After a quick breakfast (and me buying some biscuits due to sad breakfast), it was back into the jeeps for day two of our journey across the base of Bolivia.
Our first stop of the day were some train tracks, where our guide told us a little bit about the tensions between Bolivia and Chile. This train track is usable and connects Calama in Chile to Uyuni in Bolivia but due to tensions between the two countries, the train doesn’t go to Chile. It made for some good photos though, with a never-ending feel to the landscape, much like on the flats.
The rest of the morning felt like trip to Mars. The landscape turned much more rocky and orange and we weren’t just surrounded by mountains, but volcanoes. I wish I could tell you what the crazy green thing is below, but I have no idea.
A further drive took us to the first of many lagoons we’d be seeing. A lot of these are famous as the different minerals in them cause them to be different colours, such as Laguna Verde (Green), Colorada (Red) and Blanca (White) but the weather effected our visit. Looking at the photos now I could take a guess but honestly I can’t remember which lagoon was which as we didn’t have much luck with the colours. It wasn’t windy enough when we were at the red one and I can’t remember about the green one, but it definitely doesn’t look as green as it does from images I’ve seen. Typical. I’ve left google links for the lagoons above as the red one is especially cool and I’m totally gutted we didn’t get to see it.
The lagoons across Bolivia and Chile are home to three different species of rare flamingo and by the end of day three, we’d seen a lot. Getting a close up shot of our first flamingos was very exciting though.
We had lunch then took a stroll around the lagoon before getting back into the jeeps and heading onto two more lagoons.
A return to Mars was next as we went through the Salvador Dali Desert, nicknamed so as it resembles Dali’s surrealist paintings. After this, we stopped off at Arbor de Piedra, the stone tree in the middle of the desert.
Our last lagoon of the day was vast and there must have been hundreds of flamingos in it’s water. If there was a Laguna Azul, this would be it – it was so vibrantly blue. We walked to our ‘hostel’ for the night from here and settled in to wait for dinner and some sleep. It was noticeably more cold here than the previous night and I was feeling glad I’d bought myself an alpaca jumper before the trip as it helped keep the chill off.
Day 3 was an early morning as we had a few stops to hit before we had to be at the Bolivian border to catch a bus into Chile. We started bleary-eyed before sunrise to take a long drive to some geysers. These were awesome, I’d never been anywhere volcanic before and you can walk right up to these sulphuric pits and watch them bubbling away.
We then headed to some hot springs which we could have gone in but I chose not to. Not only was it absolutely freezing outside of them, it was a tiny spring that was very crowded. One of the downsides of going on a tour is that you are all on the same schedule. I’m sure it’s nice here when it’s a bit quieter. We did find a dog though. As with everywhere in South America that you don’t expect to see a dog, there is one.
We then headed to our last couple of stops of the trip. Another Dali-esque desert and what was supposedly Laguna Verde, but doesn’t look particularly green. I’d been practicing my jump. I hope you’re impressed, ha!
Lastly was Laguna Blanca. By this point we were quite lagoon-ed out, there were more than I’ve shown in this post and I hate to sound so unappreciative but when you’ve seen 7 similar looking lagoons in a day you do get a bit bored. This last one was spectacular though, especially as the morning was clear which turned it into a mirror. I think this one is Laguna Blanca. It was great either way.
Our driver dropped us off at the Bolivia border and we tipped him and said goodbye. He didn’t speak English and we don’t speak Spanish but he was a joker and despite him having one cassette of about 6 songs he played on repeat for 2 and a half days, I didn’t want to kill him. We queued, got our stamp and paid our ‘exit tax’ (side eye, sure thing Bolivia) then got onto our bus to Chile.
At the time, I was quite glad to be leaving Bolivia. The landscape was incredible but the experience was marred by persistent traveller’s diarrhoea. Chile isn’t known for having an amazing cuisine, but it also isn’t known for having a cuisine that causes your insides havoc so I was looking forward to hopefully starting to feel more human again. Would I recommend Bolivia? If you are into incredible landscapes and can handle a less luxurious way of living, definitely. As I look back on these photos, I’m amazed I got to see these things first hand. You forget the negative experiences and are left with memories of scenes from out of this world. Being bed-ridden was shit, but it’s a faded memory compared to seeing hundreds of bright pink flamingos up close.