16.02.2008 - 20.02.2008 28 °C
I arrived early into Uyuni having had little sleep. This was due to a combination of the huge Bolivian woman who smelt of fish beside me and the crying baby in front. The town of Uyuni is not particularly exciting, although the nearby salt flats are, so I quickly joined a tour of the Bolivian Altiplano for the next 3 days.
The salt flats were as beautifully blinding as they had been described. Visiting them during the rainy season enhanced the experience as the shimmering water reflected the clouds above.
Everything was perfect until, returning from the Salt Hotel (where, you guessed it, all the furniture is made out of salt) the jeep broke down and steam began to billow out of the car. After a delay of several hours, we decided to continue the tour the next day. Away from the salt flats, the area became more arid yet almost always we were surrounded by snow capped peaks.
We stopped for the night at a red lake with hundreds of flamencos. Try as I might to part the red water, it quickly became evident that I lacked the special touch required. The next morning we awoke early to visit steaming geysers and hot water springs before being dropped off at the Bolivia-Chile border. Cue another unnecessarily inefficient, complicated and tedious process.
Eventually, I arrived into San Pedro de Atacama - a trendy town in the middle of the driest desert in the world. That afternoon I visited the 'Valle de la Luna' where the salt sediment and barren landscape creates the feeling that you are walking on the moon. I stayed for sunset as the fading light cast shadows across the weathered rocks.
Despite being trendy, money is clearly not one of San Pedro's strengths. Today I tried to take out money to last for at least a week, but found that both of the banks are broken and that no shop will accept a bank card. Foresight had ensured I had an excess of Bolivianos which I exchanged for Chilean Pesos, but I had to use my emergency $50 to pay for my bus ticket out to Santiago. Consequently the sandboarding I had hoped to do today is no longer an option. It goes to show that even the best laid plans go awry...