A Travellerspoint blog

Salar de Uyuni

sunny 25 °C
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Starting from SPdA, we embarked on a 3-day tour of the Bolivian salt flats. We managed to get a car between the four of us (us 2, plus Logan and Yael, the Swiss couple). The scenery was stunning, and at times breath-taking (I'm sure the 5000m altitude might have had something to do with it!!). The first two days were spent at various lakes of differing colours - chalk white, emerald-green, blood-red - and at various rock formations which, mainly due to the wind, had been shaped into some funky shapes. We saw the stone tree, elephants, vultures, etc...some of the pictures may require a bit more imagination, but in person they definitely resembled animals! On the second night, we stayed in a tiny town called Alto, and me and some of the other guys ended up playing 5-a-side with some of the locals. After about five minutes, I was seeing double - the altitude really does get to you! We fought gamely, but we lost (did I mention we were playing 10 year olds??!!)

The third day was an early start off to the Salar de Uyuni - the Uyuni Salt flats. Unfortunately, due to the rainy season, half of the flats were flooded to the extent we couldn't visit them, and the remaining half was still fairly waterlogged, meaning we couldn't quite capture the cool perspective photo's that the salt flats are famous for. Still the four of us spent a few hours jumping around, taking photos (whilst retaining our dignity - ask us later and we'll recount some of the more indecent shots we saw taking place!) and admiring the natural beauty of the place. The 3 day trip had been amazing...in fact you could say it was un-Bolivia-ble!

As well as enjoying the natural beauty of the place, it had been great hanging out with the guys on tour, to the extent we decided to change our itinerary and head to Potosi with some of them!

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The White lagoon...

The White lagoon...


and at the green lagoon...

and at the green lagoon...


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Red Lagoon

Red Lagoon


Drivers taking a hard-earned break!

Drivers taking a hard-earned break!


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At the Stone Tree

At the Stone Tree


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Stone Gorilla

Stone Gorilla


Riding the elephant

Riding the elephant


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Train cemetery

Train cemetery


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Salt flat workers

Salt flat workers


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We've found dinosaurs...or rather he's found us! RUN!!!

We've found dinosaurs...or rather he's found us! RUN!!!


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I've got him in the palm of my hand....

I've got him in the palm of my hand....


Proof that Roops is under my foot!

Proof that Roops is under my foot!


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High-five!!

High-five!!

Posted by ravroops 06:56 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

San Pedro de Atacama (SPdA)

sunny 28 °C
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We arrived in dusty SPdA, home to the driest desert in the world. It's also at about 3000m above sea level, and walking about 100m with our backpacks in the heat really took it out of us. The town itself is fairly new...it's primarily been built as a base to explore the surrounding sights.

1. Our first excursion was to an observatory, from where we did a star-gazing tour. As geeky as it may sound, it was one of the best things we've done so far. Being so high up, and with so little moisture in the air, it's a prime location to look at the sky from - in fact several countries are teaming up to build the world's most powerful telescope nearby. It was interesting to learn about the different constellations and galaxies, watch the moon rise, and then peer through the telescopes. We saw Saturn through one of the telescopes...it looked so clear and white, we thought it was a hologram stuck onto the end of the telescope!

2. Valle de Luna: We were up bright and early to watch the sun rise over the Valle de Luna, named after its resemblence to the surface of the moon. It was cool to watch the colours of the rocks change as the sun rose, going from shades of purple to red and finally settling on the yellow colour of the rock. It was pretty much at freezing point before the sun rose, but within an hour we were stripping off our layers as the heat from the sun kicked in. We spent the morning walking through the valley, and it was amazing to hear the rocks creak as they expanded under the warmth of the sun.

3. Valle de Muerte: This was actually originally named Valle de Mars by the Belgian monk who found this almost 50 years ago, though the locals misheard him and thought he said Valle de Muerte, or Valley of the Dead. As you can probably guess, the area was covered in barren red rocks. The terrain is so different from what you would normally expect, it did seem as if we were on a different planet!

4. Salt Lagoons: Our last trip was to visit the lakes outside of SPdA. The first lake had a 50% salt concentration, so like the Dead Sea, you can do nothing but float on it's surface. It was fun to lay back, and not worry about the 20m depth below! The next few lakes were freshwater, and were used to clean off the salt sticking to our bodies. The tour ended with us sipping Pisco Sours as we watched the sun set over the salt flats.

We also booked our tour into Bolivia, via the famous Salt Flats. We'd heard some pretty horrific stories about dodgy drunken drivers and/or shady agencies ripping you off, so we were quite wary about who to book through. We visited a few tour companies, and en route met a Swiss couple who we paired up with to book our trip. Fingers crossed all goes well!

As we left SPdA, it meant the end of Chile. After Brazil, it represents the most expensive country in South America, but the warmth of the people, and the natural beauty of the country meant it was more than worth it. Just hope the earthquakes stay away (we've seen some pretty big rips in the earth caused by the quakes)! Three countries down...three more to go!!

Stargazing...

Stargazing...


Yup..that really is the Moon!

Yup..that really is the Moon!


SPdA High Street...not very big!!

SPdA High Street...not very big!!


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Strolling along the Valle de Luna

Strolling along the Valle de Luna


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Valle de Muerte

Valle de Muerte


Looks like an angry guy...not sure what the other rock resembles!

Looks like an angry guy...not sure what the other rock resembles!


50% slt = relaxing and not worrying about the 20m depth!

50% salt = relaxing and not worrying about the 20m depth!


Shadow puppets!

Shadow puppets!


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Beatiful sunset

Beatiful sunset


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Posted by ravroops 16:56 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Salta -> San Pedro de Atacama (SPdA)

sunny 25 °C
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We don't normally do this, but the bus journey through the Andes into the Chilean desert town of SPdA was so spectacular that we've given it it's own section. Most of the pictures are taken through the window of a moving bus, but we thought they still looked amazing! Hopefully the pictures do it justice!

En route to Chile

En route to Chile


Check out the windy road!

Check out the windy road!


From green forests to dry desert...a complete change of terrain

From green forests to dry desert...a complete change of terrain


And now salt flats!

And now salt flats!


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Bye Bye Argentina <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/Emoticons/icon_sad.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':(' title='' />

Bye Bye Argentina :(

Posted by ravroops 04:57 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Salta

sunny 25 °C
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Back on the buses - at least they're more reliable than flights! An 18-hour journey northwards through Argentina and we arrived in Salta. The town itself is pretty unspectacular, though if you like hot-dogs and chips, you're in heaven!! Everywhere you looked, there would be stalls selling jumbo hot-dogs with a variety of toppings (fried onions, sauces, egg!!) for less than £1!

More interesting than the town were the people. As we were in northern Argentina, there was more of a Bolivian influence amongst the people, rather than the mainly Hispanic people we saw in Argentina and Chile. Things seemed a bit more 'rough' and more like the South-America we had expected rather than the fairly polished organisation we had experienced to date.

After spending a day wondering around town, we spent the next day visiting a cattle ranch and horse-riding through the country. It was a gorgeous day (Which made a nice change from when we rode in the Pantanal, though the scenery wasn't as spectacular), and afterwards we had a massive BBQ feast laid out for us. I think the owner took a particular liking to us - he kept plying Rav and I with plenty of red wine! Rav said that the pork belly and steak he had there was probably the best he'd ever had! The veggie food wasn't too bad either :)

We had great fun at the hostel where we stayed at. It was a tiny place, and it was nice to hang out with the owners who were locals, rather than at some of the faceless hostel chains we had stayed at previously. We cooked, drank and ate together (we made pasta whilst they barbequed meat!) and it was enjoyable to try and converse in Spanish with them.

We left Salta early the next morning, and with it, we left behind Argentina for the last time on this trip. Its been full or really friendly people, great food (the meat for Rav, the ice-cream for me!) and a really good time. We've met so many people who've spent months in Argentina, and it's easy to see why - the diverse range from Buenos Aires to Iguazu Falls to Perito Moreno is amazing.

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Giddy-Up!

Giddy-Up!


Salta by day...

Salta by day...


...and by night

...and by night


Plaza 9 de Julio

Plaza 9 de Julio

Posted by ravroops 04:54 Archived in Argentina Tagged salta Comments (0)

Mendoza

sunny 27 °C
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As we bade farewell to Brazil, we had a flight booked into north-west Argentina. No surprises for guessing that our flight had been moved by 6 hours, so another day wasted hanging around in an airport. Though on the plus side, we are getting very good at getting compensation - free lunch buffet, free internet and free access into the lounge!

Mendoza is in the heart of Argentina's wine country, and is infamous for its 'Bikes and Wine' tours, where you cycle between vineyards tasting their wine. I'm sure there are laws against being drunk and cycling back home!! It was also quite informative to learn about the wine production process, how red/white/rose wines are treated differently, etc. We saw red wines that were over 30 years old which, when the owner would eventually decide to sell it, would sell at upwards of £1500 a bottle! Rav asked for a taste, but unsurprisingly got turned down! The most expensive wine we did get to try was an organic wine which would sell at 200 pesos (about £30) a bottle. COnsidering you can buy a good wine at the supermarket for about £2, that is pretty expensive! We also got to try wine straight out of a barrel, and whilst it was still fermenting - it tasted like sweet grape juice! We were slightly tipsy by the end of the day as we dropped our bikes off and headed back to the hostel...where we were offered more free red wine! As it's rude to say no, we grabbed a glass and spent ther night yapping away with the other guys/gals at the hostel.

Statue overlooking Mendoza

Statue overlooking Mendoza


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All geared up for the Bike n Wine tour

All geared up for the Bike n Wine tour


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Bollywood Gala!

Bollywood Gala!


House party anyone?

House party anyone?


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Malbec vineyard

Malbec vineyard


Last Copa de Vino Tinto for the day...or so we thought!

Last Copa de Vino Tinto for the day...or so we thought!

Posted by ravroops 04:44 Archived in Argentina Tagged mendoza Comments (0)

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