Well we had been looking forward to this.
Since before we left England actually.
Since our first travels 6 years ago when we met our lovely friends Kiki & Per from Sweden and we saw their photos from the early part of their trip. Since then we have seen lots of other travellers photos from here and it has been on our Bucket List of places to go ever since.
So did it live up to expectation?
Oh yes it was stunning – and fun.
Red Planet – the tour operator we went with, operate a two car system. It is the only company we found that did this. Each tour was a 4×4 of people but two vehicles always travel together. We shall be crossing some extremely remote regions on this trip and there was comfort in knowing if we broke down, there was another vehicle to assist nearby.
In our vehicle was our driver – Orlando, us, a French couple – Johan & Justine, and an English girl travelling on her own – Emma. Emma had been living in Australia and was going home to England the long way round. Good on her!
Altogether it was a really nice group and everyone was really nice.
The other car had 6 people plus our guide – Luis. Each time we stopped it was always the two cars together and then we moved on together too.
At the same time there was another group of two cars from Red Planet. 4 cars altogether and when we stopped we all stopped in the same place but for some reason we weren’t really allowed to mix with the other 2 cars. If we wandered over we were quickly ushered back to our group and we definitely weren’t allowed to share each other’s food!
Anyway, first stop was lunch then to a house that made salt and sold it – just in Bolivia – no salt is exported from here.
Then onto the flats!
The salt was so white it was like snow – a very weird feeling as it wasn’t cold!
As the salt dried it made hexagonal shapes on the floor which was very pretty to see. If you come here in the wet season then you can’t see these hexagonal shapes as the whole place is covered with 2 inches of water and then the flats become the world’s largest mirror. Which must also be incredible to see.
Our first stop here was to create some perspective photos. You can see what we mean by looking at ours.
Now Orlando and Luis do this at least 3 times a week and have been doing it for several years. They came equipped with a dragon prop and their eyes glowed with excitement when they noticed someone had brought along a Pringle crisp tube. They had lots of ideas they wanted to try out with this as well as helping us create our own. It was great to be with them because they really had the knack of doing these and you can tell they love doing it too.
We had the best fun doing these and you can see our results in the pictures. Did they work? you can be the judge of that.
And what about our Pringle Tube video? See it here and let us know
Our next stop was a cactus island. It has a proper name but we shall remember it as that. It felt a bit like being back on Galapagos and we half expected Roberto to pop up again “good morning my friends” we could hear him clearly!
The cacti were huge and we were told some reach 12 meters tall although we couldn’t see any that big today.
We drove on again and stopped to watch sunset a bit further away and it just seemed to happen so quick. We had a few moments of twilight – then dark. And cold! It was freezing as soon as that sun disappeared.
Our final stop of the day was for our lodgings. You couldn’t really call it a hostal – and definitely not a hotel. It was more a series of rooms build from salt blocks again but felt like a concrete hut. We did at least have our own room here and our own bathroom. And they did serve us a nice meal too.
After dinner we spent a bit of time chatting to our other car guests (we had been told to sit in our car groups again) and it was nice to chat a bit more and get to know them better. We had as a table bought a bottle of wine to share between us and we did warn our French friends that the wine probably wouldn’t meet their expectations. They were good sports and agreed to try it but it was funny to see their faces though as they took their first sip of Bolivian wine!
We were warned to get a shower tonight though as the water would be cold in the morning. It was piping hot tonight though which was great. The single beds were comfy and the blankets and duvets kept us warm too so we should sleep well.
Well that was the plan but poor old Bryan was up all night with tummy pains. Uh Oh – not a great place to be unwell for sure. We were in the middle of nowhere. We just had to hope he would be better by morning.