Let’s be honest, waking up at 4.00 am in the salt hotel after 2 days of poor sleep was not pleasant at all but we knew that this was THE day. The day we finally reached Salar de Uyuni.
Our guide stopped us right in the middle of the salt flats with no one else around a few minutes before the sunrise. It was soooooooo cold. But the view is incomparable. Of course, we took many pictures but we also took the time to just stare at the sun rising up in silence. Conscious that this would probably be a one-life opportunity. I felt very small, a little Emilie lost somewhere on the other side of the planet in a gigantic desert of salt. It made me asked myself how I survive every day surrounded by buildings and grey skies… Well I know the answer to this one: I don’t but this is another story.
You may be thinking about some other pictures you saw where the water reflected the clouds. However, we went in November which is not a rainy season.
We then moved on to the famous touristic cactus ‘island’ in the middle of the Salar. Many guides take their guests here to watch sunrise (actually another group told us that they just missed the sunrise because they were late…) but we were grateful to be on our own. Nevermind the cacti. We climbed on the top of the island (BOB30), took another round of pics with flags, ate breakfast (yep just now!) and even celebrated the birthday of one fellow travelers.
Our next stop, in time for lunch, took us right back to civilisation. We ate at the hotel de sal playa blanca (which is apparently actually not a hotel anymore) right next to a salt monument dedicated to the Paris-Dakar, the famous race between the 2 French and Senegalese cities that has been moved to South America for safety reasons. I must admit I felt quite uncomfortable thinking about car racing in these beautiful landscapes.
Our last visit was to the train cemetery of Uyuni. It’s nice but by that time, we were all quite tired and frankly it looks like they felt obliged to put this visit on the journey so that the day does not seem too short. We were then taken back to the tour agency and said goodbye to our lovely guide.
Many travelers then go on to take a bus from Uyuni to the center of Bolivia then Peru. We had to go back down to Santiago. So we continued our trip with the agency to go back to San Pedro first. There is not a lot to mention. Another guide picked us up and wespent the night in a random place in a common room. The meal was not very good and we ate with our jackets on. The good news is that there is one warm – and very warm – shower available in the opposite building for a couple of Bolivianos.
We woke up early again to reach the Bolivian border (no lagunas on the way back L ). There is a second check at the Chilean border by the Ministry of Agriculture. Make sure you don’t bring back any cereal or fruit.
And here we were, back in the warm San Pedro, really glad to finally have discovered the beauty of the South Lipez.