Life is what's happening while you're busy making other plans

05 février 2010

Uyuni

So many things to tell. Where do I start? We took the bus from Tupiza on Monday to go to Uyuni. There are about 200 km between both towns. It took us 7 hours to get to Uyuni. We saw some beautiful and very different landscapes, alternating between mountains, plains and valleys. And once in a while, in the middle of nowhere, after having driven for hours without seeing any living thing appeared two, three houses and a bunch of llamas. I don't know how these people get by, they are completely disconnected from the world, their only access is a dirt road on which maybe 2-3 buses pass per day. Other strange thing we noticed, cemeteries... Also, in the middle of nowhere, hours away from any town or houses, in the middle of nowhere would appear a number of graves, all beautifully decorated and kept... but hours away from anything! Apart from that, once again, we were driving on a track more than on a road and our backsides suffered the long ride! Uyuni is not a beautiful town. It's small and completely lacks of charm to be honest. It almost completely lives off the tourism drawn by the Salar (the biggest in the world). So when we got there, we headed straight for the tourism agencies to book a tour to the Salar as quickly as possible, so as to not be stuck in this town for too long. We managed to book a three-day tour leaving the next day (Tuesday). So on Tuesday morning, we're all set to go, we've packed everything that we'll be needing for the next three days into our small backpacks and leave our big bagpacks at the agency. We're 6 on the tour, a french girl (travelling around the world in 1 year, at 5 months of travelling already) and her brother, and an argentinian-uruguayan couple. Plus our driver/guide Marcos and his wife (our cook) Felicia. First stop of the tour, the big attraction, the Salar. It is the biggest Salar in the world with 2000 km squared. Only bad point is that it's the rainy season and it's been pouring for the past week. The Salar is covered in water, not very deep, a couple of centimeters, but enough to change the experience of the Salar. Still, though, it's pretty impressive when you're standing in the middle of that salar, and all you can see around you is just (water-covered) salt! If you check out Salar de Uyuni on the net, you'll see what the Salar looks like in the dry season, just a big dry lake of salt. Second stop, the train cemetery. When Bolivia stopped using steam trains, they decided to park all of them in the middle of nowhere (ie, just next to Uyuni), to rot for eternity. So just outside the city, lay a pack of rusty trains... it looks like a scene out of an old western... except for all the graffiti, which is a real shame. Third stop, San Cristobal, to see the colonial church. Honestly, we shot a glance at the church, and then headed into the little village that was bursting with music. It's the beginning of carnaval already and the village was in full party. So we headed towards the music and found the villagers all drinking away. We were invited to a glass of beer which we happily accepted. We stopped to spend the night in a small village a little further away. One of those villages with 10-15 houses, tops, and nearly all take in guests since all the tours stop here for the night. That night, we saw one of the most beautiful skies I have ever seen. No light pollution, no tall buildings to ruin the view of all those stars and the milky way. Magical. Day 2: Some more bumpy jeep ride to see various lagoons. We keep gaining in altitude and it's getting harder and harder to breath. Vegetation is becoming scarce and we drive through deserts of sands and deserts of rocks (which actually looks more like a forest of rocks, they're enormous!). We sleep in the National Park Eduardo Avaroa at 4800 m above sea level. Day 3: Alarm clock set a 4 am :s It's cooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooold. It's so so so so cold. I hate myself for not taking my warm "damart" (for those non-french speakers to whom this doesn't ring a bell, it's those under-shirts that grannies wear to keep warm, not pretty but so so warm) with me. I can just see it, laying in my big bagpack back in Uyuni. Anwho, off we go, in the dark. After about a 45 min ride we get to the geysers. I don't go so close cos I'm afraid of getting burnt but I see other tourists sticking their hands right into them! After the photo stop, we drive off again (so happy to be back in the jeep, it's so damn cold!). The next stop, thermal baths. A naturally warm pool. I'm not so tempted at the beginning, just the thought of taking off all those layers of clothes when it's so cold! But after taking off my shoes and sticking my feet in the water, I'm convinced. The clothes fly off and... well I don't jump in because with the temperature difference it feels like my skin is burning, but I go in little by little. Amazing, amazing, amazing. After a while the water doesn't even seem too hot anymore, just perfect. I find out afterwards the water was at 38 degrees. After that nice warm soak at 4300 m above sea level, we have a quick breakfast and head off again. We drive to the Chilean border to drop off our French friends. Then, we head back to Uyuni. A painful 7 hour bumpy ride. So back we are in Uyuni for another night in this beautiful town... we're off again tomorrow, to Potosi. Another 6-8 hours of bus awaits us.

Posté par wendorej à 00:36 - Bolivia - Commentaires [2] - Permalien [#] Partager

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    So very jealous...

    Wow - sounds amazing - brings back so many memories!
    Did you get altitude sickness? Did your towel and hair freeze after drying yourself after the thermal baths?? Not too tempting to get out of it is it??
    Did you find anything fun to do in Uyuni in the end? There was a bar/resto where you could spend a good night drinking from the most hilarious cups and having llama raclette! And there is a slide there which is the best one EVER!!!! It is an amazing experience driving around those places - the lagoons, the volcanoes etc - it's just so beautiful isn't it?!
    We went the other way - from La PAz to Uyuni to San Pedro in Chile... Can't wait to read more Daff... Can I mail myself over and join you??? xxx

    Posté par Nicole, 07 février 2010 à 22:59
  • aaaaaaaaaaaah les geysers à 6h du mat par - 10 degrés...
    Sev et moi étions méga équipées, mais on en garde quand même aussi un souvenir... décapant!! )
    Quel bonheur de suivre tous tes récits et de se remémorer tous ces lieux de passage!
    Enorme bisou à vous deux!

    Posté par Audie, 12 février 2010 à 11:28

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