Hot Springs and Nicknames – Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Dan, Farima, and I arrived in Uyuni around 4 am that morning and booked a room at the same hostel as Alaina. After we slept for a few hours, we walked around town comparing the different tour agencies offering tours into the Salt Flats. Farima, Alaina, and I decided to go with Red Planet, they were a bit more expensive, but received the best reviews online. Uyuni is basically a ghost town except for the tourists who go there to explore the Salar de Uyuni, the famous salt flats. We honestly didn’t do much the rest of the day and there is nothing really worth writing about, but I did buy some awesome indigenous high top shoes!

We woke up around 10 am the next morning, grabbed breakfast, and headed to Red Planet’s office to jump into our 4X4 for the next 3 days. There were 5 of us in the car, Alaina, Farima, myself, Faith, and Tom, as well as our guide, Bismak, and our driver, Jimmy. Our first stop of the tour was to an abandoned railway yard filled with the decaying skeletons of trains. We then headed to what would be the highlight of the trip, the Salar. Salar de Uyuni covering some 9000 square kilometers is by far the largest salt lake in the world. The Salar is no longer a lake as it is mostly dried up, but now consists of a thick, hard crust of salt with water below. The water forms hexagon like figures with the middle being rock solid. Almost all pictures taken in the Salar are of those using perspectives. Our driver Jimmy really knew what he was doing and took some really awesome pictures of us! After about an hour of taking as many pictures as we could, we were off to our next destination, a cactus-covered island with breathtaking views of the vast Salar.

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We all got back in the car and headed to the salt hotel where we would be staying for the night, but first we stopped to watch the sunset over the Salar. The salt hotel was awesome, everything was made of salt including our beds and the tables. After dinner, Jimmy took Alaina, Farima, Jaap (another guy on our tour but in a different car), Tom, and I out into the Salar to stargaze. Jaap had never seen the Milky Way before so he was probably the most excited out of all of us. The stars were absolutely incredible! That night was also the night nicknames were created for everyone, which would be our names for the remainder of the trip. Mine was ID (Irish dancer) because I decided to show everyone that I used to Irish dance back in the day.  As you can tell, the nicknames may have been lacking a little creativity 🙂

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The next day consisted of a lot of driving with various stops along the way which was fun but less so with the freezing cold weather. It was so hard to get out of the car because it was so cold that at each stop I would jump out, take a few pictures and jump back in. We were lucky enough to have the guide in our car as he would explain things inside the car instead of outside in the cold. We stopped at the Laguna Verde, as well as the Laguna Colorado, glacial salt lakes whose icy waters are stained bright red or green. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see the colors because the wind was not strong enough. Most of the lakes contain a mineral that is widely used in cleaning products. We observed the flamingos at yet another lake, but like I said before it was so cold that I didn’t observe for too long. We visited the Arbol de Piedra (Rock Tree) which only became famous because of the artist, Salvador Dali, who painted this particular tree. An interesting fact is that Salvador Dali has never been to Bolivia or to the spot of the now famous Rock Tree. Our last stop of the day before heading to our hostel was the Geyser Sol de Manana, geysers created by the semi-active volcano.

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We arrived at our hostel around 7:30 pm just in time for dinner. Our hostel was located near a natural hot spring created by the volcanic lava underneath the ground. After dinner I couldn’t wait to jump in the hot springs just so I could be warm for a little while. It was absolutely incredible, sitting in a natural hot spring underneath the Milky Way stargazing. We stayed in the hot springs for at least 3 hours until someone finally told us we had to get out. The best part was that we had the hot springs all to ourselves as our tour company was the only one staying in the hostel that night and therefore the only ones with access to the hot springs.

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The next morning, we were headed to the Chilean border. Bolivia had been good to us and we nearly spent almost a month in this country, but it was time to travel on and explore what the rest of South America had to offer!

Edited by: Farima M.

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