“Do we have enough salt????.”, Uyuni, May 22nd, 2011

Just when I decided to have a quiet night and sleep well I received a mail from Steve that at his hostel a poker tournament is taking place. Five minutes later I was there, three hours later I won it and received a price money of 10 Dollars and a T-shirt, unbelievable. My luck continued the next morning when finding a taxi driver who not only gave me a good price to the airport but also would wait to take Thomas and me back to town. At 2:15pm, Monday May 16th, Thomas landed at the highest international airport in the world, altitude about 4000m above see level. The excitement of entering La Paz, the adrenalin of seeing such a different place / culture kept him going despite the altitude / jet lag combination.

We did as recommended, stayed in La Paz for 3 days, never took a single step faster than a 90 year old would do, drunk a lot of water and took a rest whenever and wherever we wanted. It helped my cold and even more it helped Thomas to adjust. At the same time it allowed us to perceive – the life in La Paz, the city and its mountains around, the people, the local markets, the cemetery, the food (4 course meals for 1,60€) and the mobility (busses and cars). One word would come to mind continuously – “AMAZING”.

On Thursday we not only booked a 4 day tour to the salt dessert in the south, we also started it by taking the night bus to Uyuni. “Well, how much worse can a bus be that costs 7 instead of 10 €” we thought but found out quickly. It has no heating, our breath turned into ice crystals on the window just one hour after take off and with 9 more hours to go. Somehow we managed to survive and the sun is so strong we got warm quickly again. All these group tours run similar, together with a driver / guide they are put into a jeep and off it goes for 3 days. The differences are in the details, 6 or 7 people, the age of the jeep, a guide that speaks English and the stops along the tour. We managed quiet well with a decent jeep and a group of 6 who where fun, a Italian couple, a Canadian girl, a Brazilian boy and us. Guess who is who…………

The first tow stops, a train cemetery and a shopping point, got us a bit frustrated but more than quickly it turned into greatest excitement. The biggest salt dessert in the world (Thomas would like to mention that it also contains the biggest Silicium reserves) is simply breath taking and our first night we spend in style accordingly – in a salt hotel. Extremely cold, electricity only for 2 hours, no hot water but extremely special as well.

For hours we drove on this white surface, to a large extend covered with water of up to 20cm and it was this water that prevented all tours in the last two weeks from going to fish island – too dangerous. Thomas and I however got told that since yesterday some guide go there again and we made our driver Miguel to be one of them. It was so worth it, what an amazing lunch place. The following video not only shows the great landscape but also why I did not become a German teacher. Those who speak German, try to find out, Thomas could not stop laughing for 10 minutes……………………..

Day two of the tour was lagoon day and endless hours of driving through unreal landscapes. Not much to say as the pictures tell the story I hope. The in and out of the jeep every 20 minutes to take pictures should have been annoying but as the group worked well it was not an issue as well. We even ended up playing poker at night, all of us, forgetting the freezing temperatures for a while.

Day three started as day two ended, cold and amazing. At 4:30 am we took of to the geysers and went on for the sunrise at the hot springs. Wow, after not having hot water for 3 days this was more than just a short swim. Another lagoon, this time a green one, and for lunch into a very local, very far away from everything village. The part of a plane on the top left on one of the pictures is real. It came down a few years ago, the tail ripped off at this mountain but all passengers managed to survive, so they kept it the way it happened. Our driver Miguel was not in the best mood all three days and seemed to wanting make up for it today. He took us to another special place not planned in the tour normally, the Italian city. A combination of high, beautiful rocks named after researchers who almost got lost and died here some years ago. Back in Uyuni we got reminded of our age. While, after three days of jeep riding, cold temperatures and no showers the young ones (below 30 lets say) took another night bus back to La Paz, Thomas and I took a hotel, a hot shower and a great lama steak dinner, preparing for our ride to Potosi the next day. Maybe we should not consider ourselves older, but wiser, smile………….

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  • gabor says:

    Hey german teacher, the pluralform is KAKTUSSE ;-) .

    Great landscape! You both never got the idea to climb one of this beautiful mountains??? You should be very well aclimatized now and such a chance will never come back! Reinhold Messner and Luis Trenker together on top of Bolivia – great!

    • frank4444 says:

      we thought about it but there were too many kaktusse. smile. anyway, the big climbs I keep for you. FRANK

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