So the main reason for me to come to Bolivia apart from the Death Road was to visit the Salt Lakes or as also popularly known as ‘ Salar de Uyuni ‘. This is one of the most famous places of Bolivia and you will find a lot of tourists along the way as you proceed with the tour.

I had spoken to few people in La Paz who had just finished with the Salar tour and as per their suggestions had decided not to spend a night in Uyuni since the town had nothing of interest to see or explore.Instead I decided to take an evening bus from La Paz to Uyuni, which would take 10-11 hours to reach.

Once in Uyuni, I would go look for a travel agency, ideally one which is both reasonable and reliable.

The buses usually reach Uyuni by 8 in the morning and then you have 3 hours to book a Uyuni tour for the same day.There are many travel operators and hence last minute booking will or should not be a problem.In case you still want to be sure that you get to travel the same day, you can book with an online agency through their website as well.
After hearing the really bad reviews of the Bolivia buses,I decided to pay a little more and go with a highly recommended tourist bus called Todo Tourismo.The bus was comfortable but unfortunately the roads were so bad that one just could not get any sleep in the last 5 hours of the journey.

Finally at around 7.30 am the bumpy ride came to an end and we all got down at Uyuni.I am glad I decided not to spend a night here as there was literally nothing to see or do in this city.A very small city with some markets and some parks and that’s all.After freshening up, I went straight to look for a travel agency to book my tour.I had heard from few people that a company called ANDES SALT EXPEDITIONS was the cheapest and yet had great reviews as the drivers were careful while driving(rash driving unfortunately is common in these tours) and take good care of the passengers.So I knew which company I had to look for.Being a tiny little town, I walked for 5 blocks and managed to spot the signboard for Andes.Thankfully they had a place for me and I managed to book my 3 day tour for 700 Bolivianos(100 USD).

I had to wait for 2 hours before the tour started and thus decided to and sit in a cafe and order some breakfast.I noticed a number of other foreigners in the cafe, who seemed to be following the exact same itinerary and seemed to be waiting for their tour to start as well.
I whiled away my time and at exact 10.30 am, I was back at the Andes office. I met the other people who would be on tour with me and realised it was a good, friendly group.
Apart from me, there was a family- parents and their son and a brother and a sister as well. Total of 6 people, along with a driver cum guide.
We were then taken to load our belongings on a 4X4 land cruiser and soon we were all settled and ready to leave. This car is meant for just 6 passengers and 1 driver, and hence we were very comfortable. Even one more person would have made the journey uncomfortable, considering that there was a lot of distance to cover in these three days.
Soon after we departed, we made a quick stop where the driver loaded extra petrol tanks(no petrol pumps on the way), food, water and other amenities required.We then headed to the first stop of the tour, which was the ‘Train Cemetery‘. Here you will be able to take photographs of the remains of the 19th and 20th century trains, i.e. if you manage to find an empty spot in the midst of the hordes of foreigners.
After a quick stop(we all were not interested to spend too much time here since we had already clicked pictures),we then drove for about 2 hours before we reached a small town called Colchani. In the market we were able to look at some decorative items made out of salt in its natural form.We then had a nice lunch(Alpaca meat) in a small deli and got to know the group a little better.
After lunch, we proceeded to move towards the main highlight of the tour i.e. the salt flat lakes or Salar de Uyuni. This is basically kilometers and kilometers of white land, which is basically salt in its natural form, spread out everywhere. It is a wonderful sight and truly is worth all the appreciation it gets.We managed to click loads of artistic and creative photographs, and made the best use of the crystal white background.
At one point on the salt flats, there is a place where all the countries flags have been put. As an when tourists come, they are free to add their names on their own country’s flags. My name was the third on India’s flag, and I felt good to be one of the few who have had the fortune of being in such an amazing

place.

Arbol de Piedra
Blue Laguna

The last stop for Day 1 was the Fish Island. Unlike what the name suggests, this Island has no fish in it. Instead there are tall, huge, broad, green cacti all over a small hill. These are probably the biggest and the meanest looking cacti,that I have ever seen in my life.Never knew this size even existed.I climbed up the hill and took photos to my hearts content

Laguna Colardo

After a stop of an hour in the Fish Island, we all got back in the car and got comfortable for another 1 and a hour drive to the place where we would be spending the night. Frankly, after what I had heard from the fellow travelers who had completed the tour, and based on the reviews that I had read; I was prepared for a below than average room where we would be spending the night.But when we reached the location, and were taken to our rooms, I was pleasantly surprised. The rooms were clean and that’s what mattered the most. Agreed that the beds were made of hard chunks of salt, but it was layered with thick, comfy mattresses and thus it really dint matter(as long as one avoided licking the salt bed in their sleep 😉 ).

I was desperately craving for coffee, and as soon as we sat down in the living area, we were served hot cups with biscuits to nibble along.There was an option of a hot water bath at a cost of 10 Bolivianos(USD 1.50), which I willingly paid. I would have paid way more for a bath at that moment.

After freshening up, we had an early dinner,which was a nice three course meal, and then we went straight to bed since we had an early start next morning.
 At 6.30 am, the next morning all of us were at the breakfast table with all our belongings. I actually had slept pretty well and was ready for another exciting day ahead.After a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs and coffee, we huddled up in our vehicle and started for the next stop which was going to be the lake(laguna) full of flamingos.Our driver told us that it was going to be a day full of lagunas, as we would be seeing all types and colours of laguna. We were going to visit the green, blue and red lagunas.
After driving for about 3 hours, we made a stop at a rail track where we spotted a train coming from a distance.We tried all types of stunts like, putting a coin on the track, clicking running poses on the track with the train far far away in the background(P.S.- It’s dangerous.Don’t try this at home ;0 ) etc.
After taking the break, we drove for another hour and reached a lake which was full of flamingos.I have never seen so many flamingos in one place and that too so close to me. It was an amazing sight and I could just sit and take the sight in for hours.Which we actually got to do, since our lunch was a picnic lunch and we ate right next to the lake.Our guide was taking good care of us and made sure we were fed well. I was definitely happy,since I got extra chocolate for the desert as well.
By 12 pm, we were settled in the car and headed to the next stop which was the blue laguna. This was another 2 hours away, and was nestled in between high, snow capped mountains.
The drive to the lake was beautiful and we stopped a number of times.While each land cruiser is from a different company, for safety(in case a car breaks down) all the land cruisers move together.In fact they have the same halts and hence you get to meet the same people again and again over the three days.By the second day, we had made some new friends and knew most of the bunch from other groups.
The blue lake according to me was just like any other lake and didn’t impress me much.There were few flamingos in this lake as well, but beyond the scenery there wasn’t much.
Twenty minutes is all that we spent here and then we were off to the next stop, which was Arbol de Piedra or the Tree of Stone.In the middle of the vast desert, we spotted huge pieces of rock.One of these rocks stood out, and the reason was that it was in the shape of a tree.Quite impressive actually.I almost wanted to believe that this couldn’t have been all nature and mankind had a hand in getting it into its present shape.But that wasn’t the case.Mother nature shows its wonders again.
Next and the last stop of the day was around 2 hours away.It was also the last lake for the day, and it was the Laguna Colorado or also popularly known as the Red Lake.As the name suggests, the lake was completely red and this is due to the algae which lives in these waters.This was my favourite of all the lakes as the color mesmerised me completely.
Having had our share of lakes for the day, we were happy to call it a day and headed to the hostel where we would be spending the night.We indeed had been lucky, because while all other groups had to share the dorms and be all cramped up,we were spaced out.We were three in a room of six,as the family had paid extra and taken a room for themselves.So this meant we had double the blankets to protect ourselves from the freezing cold of the night and this made me especially very happy :).I HATE BEING COLD..
So this was how we spent our second night after having a good hot dinner.The only downside of this accommodation was that there was only one bathroom that had to be shared between almost 30 people.So I had to literally wake up at 3.30 am for being the first to freshen up.Well, we had to be ready to leave by 4.30 am and so 3.30 am was decent considering that.But still,it is still mid night in my dictionary and I hate sacrificing my sleep.But I had to do what had to be done, and so I did.
Last day of the tour and we had an early start as a lot of distance had to be covered that day.Apart from few more view points, we had to cover all the distance we had done in the past two days, to return back to Uyuni. And so,at 4.30 am I was huddled up in the car, wearing literally everything warm that I owned.It was freezing out there and I was dying for some sun.Little did I know that in just few hours, it would be so hot out there that I would miss this chill.
First stop of the third day was by far the highlight of this trip for me.Two hours after driving,we spotted smoke coming out of various points from the mountain in front of us.As we got closer,we realised that these were volcanic gases erupting,and the guide told us that this happens throughout the year and is safe to go close to it.Hopefully the whole volcano won’t erupt while we are in it.I specially was concerned,because the last volcano I had climbed-Cotopaxi in Ecuador, had erupted 20 days after my climb.Well,as long as this volcano waited 20 days;I was okay to go close to the eruptions.
Finally I decided to risk it and went through and through all the smoke and saw all the eruptions up close.The acidic sulphur smell was very strong, but this was something I might not ever get to do again.And so I went closest to it as possible.It was amazing to see the gooey stuff erupting from the earth up close.Our guide explained to us about the history of this volcano and the substances that erupt out of it.
Hot Springs 🙂

I couldn’t wait to get to the next stop,which was going to be fabulous.I just knew it.It was the HOT SPRINGS…Yipeee..In this freezing cold,to be dipping into sizzling hot water was pure bliss.So as soon as we reached the place,I quickly bought my ticket,changed and dipped right into the springs.I am spending the rest of my trip right here.I will not move.This is home.

The long journey
back to Uyuni.

These were the thoughts in my mind when I was relaxing in the warmth.But alas,I had to move my butt out of the water and get ready to head to the next place.

After the hot springs,frankly all we did was drive and drive and drive more.We first went up till the Chilean border and there was an option for those who wanted to go to Chile next,to get down there.No one from our group was going to Chile and so after seeing the border,we prepared ourselves for the long journey back to Uyuni.This was the most tiring and boring part for me of the whole trip.The sun was so strong and we were unable to roll down the windows of the car because of the sand being blown all around and thus it was very suffocating inside the car.I felt sick for most of the journey.We stopped for a picnic lunch and then sped back to reach Uyuni as soon as possible.
We arrived back in Uyuni by 6 pm, and I quickly went to the Todo Turismo office and bought the ticket back to La Paz for the same night.
This was officially the end of my 3 day tour in the beautiful Salar de Uyuni and I loved every bit of it. I highly recommend this tour to any one who plans to visit Bolivia.Hope I was able to provide you with some useful information and that my experiences help you plan your trip better.
Read on for my upcoming adventures in this beautiful part of the world.Till then,

Chao!
Adios!
Hasta Luego!

 

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