Atacama desert, Salt plains of Uyuni

San Pedro de Atacama Travel Blog

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Salt plains of Uyuni

We bussed down to San Pedro de Atacama (unfortunately having a bag nicked on the way.... filled with pressies for our impending trip home...) and found a hostel and took around town. Its an amazing town, an oasis in the middle of the world´s driest desert and built almost entirely in the old adobe hut style. It has been "touristi-fied" but we thought it was still a great place-  dusty, dirty streets and lots of interesting things to do.

We hired a bike on our second day there and took a ride around the desert. The scenery is spectacular - Starange red canyons and moon like rocky flat plains. We also took a star gazing tour with a brilliant French guy who talks you through the very basics of astronomy - the constellations and so on. We also took a look through some of his big telescopes, some of which you have to walk up a ladder to get to the eyepiece.

Sunrise on fish island on the salt plains
The night sky in the Atacama desert is reputed to be the best in the world - because of a number of reasons - its the driest place on the planet, their are no large cities around to dilute the darkness and so on.

Our next move was to take a tour into Bolivia to the high altitude lakes and the famous "salar" - the worlds largest slat plains. We decided to do it from Chile since I had been sick in Bolivia when we had origionally planned to do the trip.

It was okay. We saw some incredible lakes - they are all strange colours because of the mix of minerals. There is a white, a green and  a red lake - and the salt plains are mind blowing - 12 000km sq of brilliant white salt flats - but the actual tour wasnt so great. As well as the driver and the cook there were six of us crammed into the land cruiser, and the (loosely termed) roads were so bumpy it really wasnt pleasant for the 900km drive around.

Sunrise on fish island on the salt plains
And it was mostly between 4000 and 5000m so it was absolutely freezing! Also the driver ... meant to be a guide as well..... wasnt very good at giving us any information or history, so we ended up looking everything up on google when we returned. The worst part of the tour was the last night, we left Uyuni in Bolivia at 8 and drove until 10:30 in the absolute freezing (the car had no heater), then stopped at some place where we slept until 2:30 before hitting the road again in order to meet our lift at the border. We have never been so cold - at 6 this morning our water in our water bottles was frozen solid and there was ice all over the inside of the windows. By the time we managed a shower at 12 all our toiletries were still frozen solid, so unfortunately it meant ANOTHER day without deoderant for geoffrey!  
 

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Salt plains of Uyuni
Salt plains of Uyuni
Sunrise on fish island on the salt…
Sunrise on fish island on the sal…
Sunrise on fish island on the salt…
Sunrise on fish island on the sal…
Flamingoes in the high altitude la…
Flamingoes in the high altitude l…
playing silly buggers on the railw…
playing silly buggers on the rail…
Strange rocks in the Atacama desert
Strange rocks in the Atacama desert
What to do when your exhaust pipe …
What to do when your exhaust pipe…
High altitude lakes
High altitude lakes
Dali-esque rocks in the Bolivian d…
Dali-esque rocks in the Bolivian …
Lago Colorado
Lago Colorado
Lago Colorado
Lago Colorado
Lago Colorado
Lago Colorado
Geysers at 5300m
Geysers at 5300m
The moon, taken through a telescop…
The moon, taken through a telesco…
Atacama desert
Atacama desert
Lago Azul
Lago Azul
Chile/Bolivia border post
Chile/Bolivia border post
Andean fox that lives at the borde…
Andean fox that lives at the bord…
Coldest night in the world...ever!…
Coldest night in the world...ever…
Strange people at the train gravey…
Strange people at the train grave…
Lindy posing on the salt plains!
Lindy posing on the salt plains!
The American guy who took the phot…
The American guy who took the pho…
On the can
On the can
San Pedro de Atacama
photo by: eefab