First stop South America (then NZ, Oz & South East Asia) travel blog



























Tupiza was my first stop in Bolivia. This is a quiet little town that is popular with backpackers. The weather was quality, sunny with clear blue skies, so I headed to an outdoor swimming pool with some people I had met. The pool was not the level of cleanliness I am used to, but then i am in a developing country. But I cleared an area of dead flies and other such stuff and braved it because it really was hot. The following day I went on a 4 day 4WD tour that took us on a 1200km round trip of the surrounding area, finishing at the salt flats of Uyuni. In the jeep was our driver Edwin, our cook Maxi, myself, Sonia from England, David from NZ, Gabriel from Switzerland and Rosario from Italy. The tour took us through some spectacular, if somewhat surreal, landscapes and scenery. As i´i´ve now realised with Bolivia, you can´t get anywhere without crossing huge mountain ranges on rocky roads that cross through streams and rivers. Day 1 took us through such mountains, again with stunning rock formations and sheer vertical drops. We spent the 1st night in a village called San Antonio de Lipez, which was very isolated. I went for a walk through the village and was overwhelmed by the poverty. There were children out playing in the dusty streets wearing dirty and ripped clothes, kicking a flat football. Some begged for money and pens. The school was a single mud hut classroom with a few old desks and chairs. It was quite hard witnessing such poverty first hand. The scenery changed on day 2 and we stopped at a number of picturesque lagoons that were full of pink flamingos. The highlight of which was Laguna Verde (green) which is on the border with Chile and overlooked by the huge inactive Volcano Llicancahur. A number of the lagoons are thermal and we stopped to bathe in one of the thermal pools which was bliss. We finished the day at the impressive Sol de Manana geysers which were steamy craters bubbling with hot mud. It was like being on another planet. Day 3 started with a visit to the stunning Laguna Colorada which is red in colour and extremely popular with the pink flamingos. The landscape was constantly changing on the tour and before long we were driving through the desert of Desierto de Siloli which was a vast plain of sand with huge bizarre shaped rocks randomly scattered around. We then stopped and had lunch at the active volcano Ollague. We spent the night on the outskirts of the salt flats in a hotel made entirely out of salt, even the furniture. We were up at 4am on the final day of the tour and drove to the salt flats of Uyuni. As the name suggests, this is just miles and miles of flat white ground. It was by far the most surreal of the landscapes. It was white and flat for as far as the eye could see in all directions. We watched the sun rise on the horizon of the salt flats, which was really quite a special sight. And due to the vast flat white landscape there is no perspective when taking photos so we were able to take some cool shots.

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