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20-25th Feb 2015 Salar de Uyuni, Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa– Bolivia, San Pedro de
Atacama - Chile

  • I arrived well-worn to Uyuni after another full-day-bus ride, and went straight to the agencies to see the Salar de Uyuni - the world's largest salt flat - tour offers. The timing was lucky as this tour was not available for a week in January due to the Dakar Rally. The event ran through Argentina, Chile and Bolivia and returned to Buenos Aires, Argentina for a total distance of 9,000 km. So, I quickly booked the 3-day-tour, but with arrival in Chile. After the first overnight bus in Bolivia, without toilet and air-conditioning on the bus, I knew that the general standard of facilities and services won't be too high in this remote area...and were not. However, the places I saw were absolutely worth the visit! I got so inspired by the landscape and people I was with that it got me into the mood of travelling again. 
  • We had a 4WD Toyota Landcruiser with a young local driver, whose mouth was constantly full with Coca leaves...I did not see him removing any of the Coca leaves, just putting new ones into his mouth… First we visited a completely rusted train cemetery, then we spent some time in the middle of the Salar (means salt flat in Spanish). 
  • The Salar de Uyuni has almost 11,000 km² at 3,656 m above sea level. It is usually dry, but periodically a few cm layer is covered with water. They mine 25 thousand tons of salt per year. We had lunch at the back of the car, on! the salt flat. 
  • The next 2 days the scenery changed all the time from mountains to volcanoes, deserts and upliftingly beautiful lagoons with flamingos at 4,500 m. There, even though the sun is shining, the areas are windy and not too warm. The last day we started the day to have a look at the geysers at sunrise. It was funny and pleasant to feel the heat of the steam as it was cold (during the nights minus, but shining starts at almost reachable distance), then we stopped to soak in a thermal bath (35°C). After that we said goodbye with my French friend to the rest of the group who were heading back to Uyuni and we crossed the border of Chile and went to San Pedro de Atacama.
  • So back to Chile for 1 stop. The Atacama Desert is known as the driest place in the world, even the 6,000 m high mountains are never covered with snow. Its aridity is explained by being situated between two mountain chains (the Andes and the Chilean Coast Range) of a height sufficient to prevent rain from either the Pacific or the Atlantic oceans. The desert lies 2,400 meters above sea level to the south of San Pedro de Atacama, therefore it is the world's highest desert as well.
    San Pedro de Atacama is a city built from mud and straw. It was a pleasure to arrive to this lively place whose temperature was around 30°C daytime. As we have seen several amazing lagoons, deserts, and volcanos already, we decided to visit only the Valle de la Luna, the Valley of the Moon. What looks like snow in these pictures, is actually salt...There are no signs of life, just the lunar landscapes of the Atacama Desert in all directions. We went to the edge of the Death Valley to watch the sunset, how the lights of the twilight change the colours of the mountains and dunes. I felt very pleased seeing not only an impressive sunrise the day before, but a sunset there. Sometimes it would be worth watching it also where we live our daily life, it is so uplifting!