Part II of the Week of Sitting was in a new vehicle – a Toyota Landrover (hereafter referred to as, “the jeep“).
Our bus arrived to Uyuni around 5am, and before our feet hit the pavement, women had surrounded us, hawking their trips to the salt flats. We had been endlessly warned about choosing a safe company, so we sidled away from them to do our proper research before choosing. Miriam and I each chose different companies, and off we went in our respective jeeps with 5 other people and a guide.
These tours are pretty amusing, because they all take pretty much the same route for three days, which means you drive for hours in the middle of absolutely nowhere, and suddenly find your jeep parking along a line of 20 or 30 other jeeps.
The first day was the salt flats, and these did not disappoint. We drove across the wide white expanse, stopping to take the classic salt flat pictures, to climb a hill covered in massive cactuses, and to watch the sunset while we stood in the cold winds.
That night we stayed in a salt hotel with the other jeep from our company. After dinner we were offered to go out to “see the stars” which it turns out was a euphamism for some reef grottoes (pretty boring) and an ancient cemetery in a cave (pretty cool).
On day 2, we drove through the gorgeous desert, stopping to see a semi-active volcano, large rock formations, and many lagoons with flamingos, though they were not as interested in us as we were in them, so getting close was a bit of a challenge.
For anyone considering a trip to the Salar, take note – on the second day, there are NO BATHROOMS to be seen for a good 7 hours. And to be clear, my definition of bathroom includes holes in the ground and bushes; it almost included behind-the-van until crisis was averted. You have been warned.
That night we slept in an unheated hostel, relying on our coats, some alcohol, and each other to stay warm through dinner.
The next morning started at 4:30am in freezing temperatures, when we headed out to… actually we had no idea where we were going – our guide was not particularly informative. But it turns out that we were going to an amazing field of geysers just as the light came in. These were awesome because they were 1) very beautiful and 2) warm.