Salar de Uyuni – Highlight of Bolivia!

I started my time in Bolivia in the small “city” of Tupiza.  I splurged here and stayed at the nicest hotel in the city (because it had wifi) and still only paid about $8 per night for my own room.  Unfortunately, even the nicest hotel doesn’t include central heating (or any type of heating for matter) even though the temperature drops below freezing at night…   There wasn’t a whole lot to do in Tupiza besides stock up on warm clothes (which for me included a hat and gloves with decorative llamas!) and view the beautiful scenery that looks like it was transplanted right out of the Wild West.

Then my four day- three night trip out into the Bolivian Salt Flats began!   The trip started off with lots of llamas (for some unknown reason I love llamas).  They are domesticated animals (like cows, not like pets) bred for their wool as well as their meat.  I actually tried llama meat, it was surprisingly pretty good.   Owners distinguish their animals from neighboring shepherds’ animals basically by the different “earrings” that the llamas wear.  I must say that they do look pretty…

Day number two consisted of lagoons of all colors!  Greens, blues, and even red!  So amazing!  A quick dip in the hot springs certainly wasn’t bad either, especially considering I hadn’t had a shower in 36 hours…   Definitely my favorite was the red lagoon – also known as Laguna Colorada.   This lagoon was full of flamingos gobbling away on their algae.  Fun fact:  flamingos start off white, and the more they eat the pinker they become.

The third day consisted of a few more lagoons, but the main attraction was the rock formations.  It was a lot scarier to “rock climb” without the soft cushiony floor at Planet Rock and of course a belayer providing an important sense of security.  At one point I channeled my “inner lion king” and did the pride rock pose…   The other highlight of the third day was accommodation that night – a salt hotel.  This is literally what it sounds like, a hotel made of salt.  And I mean everything was made of salt.  Interior and exterior walls were made of bricks of salt, the bed frames, tables, chairs – all salt.  The cool part was the floor was loose rock salt, that luckily had just been replaced before we arrived, so it was nice and white – it looked like a winter wonderland…  Still no heat in the salt hotel though L.

The fourth and final day was the main reason I came to Bolivia (and handed over the outrageous visa fee of $135 (USD) to have the privilege to enter their country) – the salt flats!  They were definitely worth it!  It is basically a vast “desert” of salt that stretches out as far as the eye can see.  For some reason I was picturing loose rock type salt (similar to the stuff used for de-icing pavement), but it wasn’t like that at all.  It was a solid mass of textured white salt, it looked a lot like snow…  And because of the freezing temperature, it felt like it could really be snow.   This is where you take the outrageous pictures using optical illusions because the background salt goes on forever and ever…  The most notorious picture involves a plastic toy dinosaur chasing people.  Unfortunately, without the foresight to bring one from home, toy dinosaurs aren’t available in the salt flats and I had to make do with what I had.  However, me standing “on top of the world” was a pretty good last minute alternative…

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