Salt Flats, Train Cemetery... amazing
Uyuni Travel Blog› entry 8 of 9 › view all entries
we met out tourguide, who unlike in other countries, is not even a professional tourguide but someone who cannot find a job in her trade so does tours. She buys us tickets on the coach and we start the 12 hr journey down south. Now I have been travelling in some underdeveloped places but when the tourguide said that the roads will be 'a bit bumpy' what she really meant was that you will feel like you are in a washing machine for the next 12 hours! And that is exactly what it felt like.
Now the entire bus is full of tourists going down for the day to Uyuni to visit the famous Salt Flats and some bits of information would be quite useful to mention such as:
A) While it was pretty warm in Peru mountains and even in La Paz, no one knew that in Uyuni it goes down to 0 Celcius late at night and early in the morning when we arrive.
B) On top of the fact that everyone is freezing when coming off the bus, there is absolutely NOTHING open to get food that is open and there is NO BUS STATION! Surely you would think that this bus comes every morning 8am, BUT no locals are awake to feed us, get us to go on their tours until 9:30. This is the basic observation you notice right away about the Bolivians, they just cannot be asked to wake up early, give an effort, of care.
When asked our tourguide says, 'Well that is Bolivia'. Very reassuring...
Now just before our tour starts, we are told that 1/3 of our tour is not going to be included because of heavy flooding in the Salt flats and you are unable to drive through the flooding to get to the sites.
Now our tour consists of multiple stops,
1) Train Cemetery, place where all the old trains that transported salt into through the country go to die...
2) stop at Salt processing house, see houses made out of salt
3) stop go to areas where salt is collected and you see the salt hills,
4) stop salt hotel/museum/lunch
5) see iguasu island, where there are huge cactus and all sorts of plants.
then back to Uyuni
Sounds impressive and full itinerary, BUT this is the reality:
1) We do stop at the Train Cemetery, the tourguide wants to leave after 5 minutes while me and my brother go exploring.
2) stop at a house and after getting a tour from a laborer who packs salt into bags who complains he isnt getting paid enough for his job. (really why should he? Not exactly skilled labor is it?)
They want us to buy useless overpriced crap, no thanks...
3) we do go to where the salt hills are at but our driver and my tourguide dont really want to stop I have to almost beg to stop. It is quite cool here I snap many photos but I am constantly rushed to move along.
4) We get to the Salt museum/hotel at around 1pm and we find out that the people who live there and allow for tours of the inside are NOT THERE. WTF??? HOW CAN THEY NOT ME THERE? I ask the tourguide, and she says 'well sometimes the go into Uyuni.
I was quite annoyed when my tourguid told me 'just look through the windows!' Seriously!
The lunch was just basic very cheap meat and rice made by the wife of the driver, but nowhere to sit, no tables, just the salt.
5) As mentioned before we cannot go to Iguasu Island, so we just head back to town at around 2pm, ending a 1 day tour only after about 4hrs. (A half day tour really)
Again I had to beg the driver and tourguide to stop to take extra photos. They just wanted to get back home. Really dont care.
Back in Uyuni and back on the 12 hr bus. If you thought the bus there was bad, the bus back is WORSE.
Now I did partly enjoy my trip down to the Salt Flats but and huge BUT it seems like the locals dont care to provide a good service, you only have to bribe the local office to get a tourguide license unlike in lets say Petra in Jordan where you have to pass exams and inspections. The coutry is corrupt, the people are lazy and dont care, and it trickles down into every corner of this country.