Salar de Uyuni – in the middle of a salt desert
Uyuni Travel Blog› entry 17 of 24 › view all entries
What a bumpy road, the bus was shaking almost all the time and I felt how every cell of my body vibrated. Impossible to keep on sleeping, no matter how early in the morning it was. I pulled the window curtain a bit aside and had a look out there. No wonder the road was so bumpy...there was no road at all actually. We were middle of nowhere, some sort of dry steppe.
Then houses appeared, roads, some people. We were arrivig in Uyuni, our final destination. A small isolated community at 3.675 meters above sea level. Poor Dan, not the best information for him , he still suffered from the altitude sickness. But there we were, we stepped from the bus into a freshly cold early morning.
To be honest, we found it quite quickly despite the fact that tour agencies seemed to be the only employer here besides hostels/hotels and restaurants so there were many of them. The woman inside told as that we were too early and that we had to wait for an hour and a half, but we knew that already. At least we had time to arrange our further transportation to Oruro and to have some breakfast. We left the backpacks in the agency office and walked towards the train station which was just few meters ahead. Taking a train sounded like a good alternative to a bus. The train station was still closed but according to the schedule on the entrance door they were supposed to open within an hour.
Allright, then breakfast first. There were few places round the corner so it wasn’t a problem at all. On the way Dan entered a shop where he saw sun glasses. He didn’t bring any and that was a no go visiting a bright white shining salt desert. And imagine what, while we tried to suggest him ones that would look good on him, he chose the one we would think of the last...a huge „fake“ reiban glasses. No kidding, he looked like a high altitude sick terminator...but what should I say...that’s Dan.
After the breakfast it was time to get back to the train station which was still closed.
We did the mistake to walk a bit around the building, because when we got back there were already some people waiting.
With the tickets in our hands we hurried back to the agency office. The woman there told us to buy enough water for the tour...of course she had some to sell. And as there was not so much time left we bought it eventhough it was double priced compared buying it somewhere else.
Soon the land rover arrived and we „climbed“ in to join a Bolivian couple and a Japanese guy on our 1 day tour. Our first stop came already after some 3 km...the „Cementerio de trenes“...cemetary of trains. A graveyard of rusting locomotives. Looked like an iron trash place somehow. It had definitely an atmosphere on its own.
Most of the tours I’ve ever joined anywhere on this world had a stop by some souvenir shop.
Finally, the salt desert. In a height of 3.653 meters above sea level it covers an area of some amazing 12.000 sq meters. The white planes looked endless. Without sunglasses it was really hard to keep the eyes opened as the salt reflected a lot of the sunlight. We stopped here by a place where some workers seemed to collect the salt and all around were little artificial salt hills.
We did some pictures all around and even climbed some of the little salt hills to pose for more pictures. Like typical tourists, I know. But hey, this was our first time in a salt desert.
Our next stop was the „Isla de los Pescadores“. The Spanish speakers might wonder as the name means „Fisher’s island“. Well, it really looks like an island in middle of a blindingly white sea. It‘s a hill with amazing stands og giant cactus.
Our driver stopped near some other land rovers and the rest of us headed towards the path up the hill.
When the lunch was over we did some pictures directly on the salt floor next to the hill. Some funny ones as well as the the distances lose their visual effect here.
Before returning back to Uyuni our land rover did one more stop at a salt hotel…made of salt of course. Our guide told us that it was built illegally so the government would pull it down soon. Would be interesting to know who was the investor in this case.
It was around 5pm when we were arriving back in Uyuni, still a lot of time before the departure of our train. Us and our new 3 new friends from the desert tour agreed to sit down somewhere for a couple of beers and some dinner. We found a nice looking place and stayed there as long as possible. Really long, several hours. Later in the night when almost all the guests were gone except of us, the waiters closed the door and started to pull some tables together.
A really nice gesture. Nevertheless, around 11pm we finally decided that the guys deserved some privacy and left the restaurant. Our Japanese friend decided to return into his hotel, the Bolivian couple was traveling with the same train like us. But what to do now? We still had some 2 hours left and all the places around were closed already. The only thing we could imagine was to stay directly on the train station. There were people waiting already. Within the station was a little cafeteria full of waiting people, but we were lucky and a table got free.
Finally my hour showed me that it was already 1pm, but as so many things in this corner of the world neither this train seemed to leave in time. God, my arms a legs felt just heavy, all I wanted at that moment was to get some sleep. Then we heard the information that it’s at least possible to get inside of the 2nd class wagon. Pavel and Marian meant we should just go, we would see each other in Oruro . S we did it and walked towards our wagon. Inside it was dark and already filled with people who were sleeping. Was damn cold here, luckily I had a little blanket with me, the same Dan.
I felt almost asleep when 2 young guys with a girl entered and sit down directly behind us.
I was already more or a less sleeping when the train started moving finally.