Photo Essay: Our epic journey to the altiplano and Salar de Uyuni Part 1

Salar de Uyuni

The Salt Flats in Bolivia were on the top of the list of places we wanted to visit in South America. I remember checking so many surrealistic pictures of Salar de Uyuni taken by fellow travelers inviting me to that dreamy world. So, when we got in a 4×4 for our 3 day tour from San Pedro de Atacama to the Salt flats in Uyuni, Bolivia, it all became so real. Ian and I were too excited for words.

We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy ride going through some of the highest altitudes at freezing temperatures but what was waiting at the end of this journey would be once in a lifetime experience. So, we put on all the layers of clothing we had and embarked upon an unforgettable trip.

Since we were constantly surrounded by some other worldly landscapes, I can’t help but let the pictures tell our story…

So, our first day on the tour went like this…

After waiting for couple of hours to get our exit stamp at the Chilean Immigration office in San Pedro de Atacama we headed on to the Bolivian immigration office at an altitude of over 4000m above sea level on the side of the volcano Licancabur.

Salar de Uyuni

Smallest border control we’ve seen

I started feeling the first signs of the high altitude with a big fat headache and dizziness followed by difficulty in breathing while waiting to get our passports stamped. To make things worse, our jeep’s engine died and we had to wait in the freezing cold while the driver was trying to fix it. It didn’t sound promising each time he tried to start the engine. By the time all the other tour companies had left the area, we were stuck with a broken car going nowhere! Luckily, another car from the tour company eventually came to the rescue and we were transferred in to a new car with a new driver. It’s such a shame as the new driver didn’t seem as cheerful as the first driver. Not a good start to our trip but oh well, events like this only make the story more memorable, right?!

The first stop was Laguna Blanca. One of the many gorgeous and colourful lagoons scattered throughout the altiplano.

AltiplanoNext up was Laguna Verde.

AltiplanoWe stopped for a dip in the hot springs but I wasn’t brave enough to let go off my 7 layers of clothing so I gave that one a miss and opted for a walk to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. Ian was crazy enough to give it a go!

Bolivia

Bolivia

Sol de Mañana (Morning Sun) geysers at an altitude of 4800m high is full of mud lakes with boiling and bubbling mud was definitely an interesting sight. Luckily this time, it wasn’t as cold as it was at Geysers del Tatio in Chile on the other side of the mountain.

AltiplanoColourful mud pools reminded me of a painter’s palette…

Sol de MananaDue to the car breaking down at the start of our journey, we were running behind the schedule but we managed to reach our last stop at Laguna Colorado just before the sunset.

AltiplanoWe spent our first night at a very simple hostel right by Laguna Colorado. By the time we reached our hostel I was suffering badly from the high altitude, hardly able to eat or breath. We had the longest night trying to sleep in the freezing cold with no heating facilities in the room.

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