is a tiny town surviving solely on the Salt Flat tours, and we weren't off the bus 2 seconds before the tour touts settled on us like a pack of rabid wolves. We sorted out our tour right away and had about 2 hours to kill, so we breakfasted, got our exit stamp form Bolivia and confirmed that Americans don't have to pay to enter Chile overland (only by flight), and did some shopping in the local tourist traps. Our jeep was pretty new and nice, especially in comparison to the one we took from Rurrenabaque
! Our group was joined by a Dutch couple, and we set off for the long drive to the Salt Flat. Once we hit the salty area everything was white, creating the illusion of a blindingly bright snowy ground under a brilliant blue sky.
We stopped for a "presentation" from a local lady, which consisted of her showing us how to bag salt into a plastic bag and lasted about 2 minutes. She asked for a tip afterwards which is normal for these types of presentations, but as this one was laughably short and ridiculous I didn't give in. We stopped as well in the great white to take some pictures, playing with the perspective as all tourists do on this tour. I was hoping our guide would have some props such as a toy dinosaur, as I had seen plenty of pictures with these, he offered nothing however, including words, for he hardly ever spoke.
For lunch we stopped at an "island" of cacti, some over 1000 years old. We ate cold pork chops and veg, an odd lunch to come out of a cooler in a jeep! We continued onwards and soon the salt petered out into sand, our hotel for the night however was made of salt bricks and head the same salty crunchy floor.
Even the beds were salt blocks, who's hardness was well felt even through the flimsy mattresses. We arrived at the hotel fairly early, before 4 pm, and were left alone to our own device as the guide was apparently staying elsewhere. A lady make our tea and dinner, and with no cards we spent the evening mostly reading our guide books and eating. Dinner was over by 8 and all of us immediately went to bed. Except for the Dutch couple we had all had 2 sleepless nights in a row, and rather welcomed the chance to crash out early.