Day 2 - Salar de Uyuni - The Great Salt flats
Oct 6, 2009
|When we woke up at 6.30 this morning, the sun was already up. We both had some very pleasant sleep nicely wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags.
Breakfast was bread with butter and jam and some scramble eggs. After breakfast, we headed off for another day of excursion. Today we will cross the dessert, look at an active volcano from a distance and catch sight of flamingos.
Today’s drive is a lot more bumpy than the day before as the salt flat was, as the name suggested, pretty flat. Today, we drive through various dessert filled with little burnt bushes, rock, or just sand.
We made a few stops to take photos of the dessert and by 11am we arrived at some hill top overlooking an active volcano. It was quite interesting that this one has smoke coming out of it, but it looks equally likely that someone was just cooking their lunch on a barbecue up on the volcano.
After the volcano we drove past various pretty salt lakes where the flamingoes lived. The flamingoes didn’t seem to be particularly bothered by the humans trying to take pictures of them and carry on happily eating their pink algae. Apparently the flamingoes are pink in colour because of their pink algae diet. The animals were quite an interesting sight, and the fact that they are not too scared of humans enabled us to take a few nice close up pictures.
We had lunch by another salt lake overlooking the flamingoes habitat. The lunch was roast chicken and was pretty decent, although the alpaca we had for yesterday lunch was much better somehow.
After lunch we drove past the highest desert in the world and stopped for some photos when we saw some interesting rocks. One was shaped like a tree and was apparently the most photographed rock in the country. Another interesting observation was that there seems to be plenty of llamas and alpacas running around in the middle of the grassless and plantless dessert. Where do they find food? Do they eat dust or the occasionally lost tourists?
The final stop of the day was amazing. It was the Laguna Colorada which is a lagoon that is actually red. This is due to the red algae living in the lake. Lots of flamingos eating the algae in the lagoon. It was a very beautiful lagoon - although it looked very strange with it being red. It was very cold and windy by the lagoon but the views were amazing…
Tonight we are staying at a much more basic hotel. All six of us will be sharing a same room but this is probably for a good reason as we will expect tonight to be very very cold. The tour guide suggested that it should be between -8C and -15C and it will probably be good idea to have the heat of each other to keep us warm as central heating doesn’t seem to exist in Bolivia neither. I have always been mentally prepared for the cold as I remembered Yat always mentioned how cold it was on the Bolivia dessert at night, however, Marcus has always been a bit skeptical… Until the other tour guide said that she was here last August and was pleased that the night was only -10C instead of -25C normally. Oooops.
So, fingers crossed we will survive tonight’s experience intact!
Just before dinner, we had a nice long conversation with the tour guide. He was very interested in Sweden as one of his cousin actually lived in Sweden for 5 years previously. He was very impressed with the Swedish car Volvo and believe that the make is one of the most reliable of its kind available. We also have a nice discussion regarding Bolivia. Initially the discussion was revolving around the fact that Bolivia was a landlocked country and how this affects its economy. And then we moved on to how tourism maybe able to help Bolivia’s economy. It was interesting that given Peru and Bolivia are equally easy to get to, yet Peru has much bigger share of tourists, so we asked the tour guide of his opinion. He seems very patriotic but he blamed the government for not doing enough for the country’s tourist industry. However, signs are that there are more and more tourist coming to the country now and hopefully the living standard of the country will be lifted up as well.