Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Salar de Uyuni

Our time in Bolivia is almost over so our next stop was the famous salt flats or Salar de Uyuni. At approximately 12,000km, the salt flats are the result of two dried up lakes leaving the sediment to bake under the South American sun. Legend has it that once there was a beautiful girl that the locals were envious of. In their jealousy, they killed her and masked it as sacrifice. However the gods were angry by this so turned the girl into a mountain where she then shed a single white tear - drying the lake up and turning the whole area into a barren, salty no mans land. 

The majority of the salt is used for construction and shipped across the country and continent; our first nights stay was in a hotel made solely of salt and markets pop up in the most random places selling a variety of salt-made wares. 
Because of the vastness of the flats, perspective photos are hugely popular with visitors. We were able to create images where toy dinosaurs were big enough to eat us, and one person was able to hold five people in the palm of their hand.

During the course of the three day tour we made stops at lagoons, thermal springs, geysers, volcanic rock formations, aged coral from over 400 years ago when water was present and saw three different species of flamingos grazing in sulphuric steamy water. In an unexpected turn, we woke up to snow on the second day which ended up covering the landscape in a two-foot deep blanket. The white covering turned the views from brilliant to breathtaking as the natural colours became diluted to produce a neutral palette of purples, light oranges, greys and browns. The original plan was to finish the tour at the border and cross into Chile. However because of the snow the Chileans closed their side meaning a return to Uyuni was on the cards; this could have been annoying but because the area of the Reserva Nacional De Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa which we passed through was so impressive, we couldn't complain. Salar de Uyuni has to be the highlight of my Bolivian adventure.