I genuinely felt close to death here. 5000m high hostel.
The second day in Bolivia began with an incredible sunrise. I awoke from my extremely poor nights sleep with a pounding headache. We had a breakfast and set out to the Laguna Colorado for one last photo opportunity. I decided to take up the offer of an altitude sickness tablet from an Australian travelling companion and it only made me want to vomit really badly. I don’t recommend them!
We drove out of the national park and onwards onto the Bolivian plains. Vast expanses of desert high up in the mountain with very little vegetation and only the odd Vicuna darting around the landscape. Our driver who was a former park ranger had extensive knowledge of the wildlife and revealled that he had written a book about the Laguna Colorado and was involved in a campaign to help it achieve UNESCO world heritage site (or something!!) status. He was an adventurer who spoke very little English but I swear I could understand his Spanish… maybe it was the altitude.
Anyway, we toured a series of lakes and drove onwards through rugged terrain which battered the vehicle we were in. It also took it’s toll on my sickly body and I couldn’t wait for us to drop down to a lower altitude. We passed several laguna’s with flamingos but the oddest one was had a strange hotel situated at it. I’m sure this building was illegal and it’s only trade seemed to be allowing passing travellers to uses their disgusting outhouses. They landscape was littered with signs saying “No pissing in the lake” or whatever that is in Spanish. Perhaps it was a noble quest to minimies sewage pollution, but being the cynic that I am, I thought it was profiteering.
We drove down the mountain stopping to look at various sights including a large rock which was freestanding due to wind erosion. And also saw an active volcano albeit from some distance away (a first for me). Eventually we reached a salt flat which had the main railway running through it. Built by the British, it was still in operation and I think it would have been fascinating to catch a train on it. Apparently it runs from Uyuni to Calama in Chile.
Big Rock in the desert
Two French gymnasts touring South America. They had lost their camera
Trusty Toyota. I realised that this was the only thing between us and hypothermia.
They were praying for a train. It was windy too.
Following this interesting pause, and because I was feeling more chipper due to only being at say 3000m above sea level, we made a stop in a small village. It was the kind of place I imagined I would see in South America. With only 2 streets and a cross road, it had a couple of shops. Our driver drove around a few to find them shut. I realised that they might well be taking turns at getting trade from tourist, as only one was open. I also treated myself to a sausage and fries, which although I wasn’t ill from, felt like it was a really bad idea as soon as I had ordered it…
We finished the day at the edge of the Uyuni Salt flat at a salt hotel. The place was constructed entirely from blocks of salt from the lake. Infact, the floor was also all salt and it felt very homely. Almost like having a white, salty beach under your feet.
Dinner here was the best we had had all trip in Bolivia. That being lent to the fact that there was a fire, beers and the food was not luke warm pasta. It was Flamingo! Wow how tasty was that?! No, that was the joke our driver played on us. It was chicken, but he really had me going all day. Again I think i was seriously suffering from the altitude sickness.
Shortly before dinner, I witnessed perhaps one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen. Fantastic. I slept very soundly that night satisfied with my adventure so far.
Salt hotel with the salt floor. So cute
Look how cute the salt dining tables and chairs are!
Bolivian Flag – well worn
Me getting warm and making new friends
Simply stunning sunset