Atacama, Chile to Uyuni, Bolivia

In the morning on Sept 30 we got picked up by a van to start our three day journey to Uyuni, Bolivia. The trip began with another long wait at Chile immigration services to get our passports stamped. Next, we drove an hour to the Chilean/Bolivian border where we were served a quick breakfast and went through the unfortunate experience of buying a Bolivian visa (including an outrageous charge for copying two pieces of paper). Despite the rough start, Bolivia was AMAZING. 

At the border, we got into the 4×4 that we would be traveling in the next few days. The people in our 4×4 were: Jugo (our guide and driver), Lucy (a nurse from Holland), Willy (a student studying in Santiago, but from Spain), and Danny and Diego (a couple from São Paulo). 

The first stops of the day were Laguna Verde and Laguna Blanca, both located at the bottom of the Licancabur Volcano. 

Then we drove to 5,000m (~14,500 ft) above sea level (we had to take long, slow breaths for a good hour) to Daly Desert where we saw a surrealistic landscape, thermal water pools, Sol de Mañana geysers, fumaroles, and cracks with emerging volcanic lava. 

(It was hard to breathe and take a picture here, but we did it!)

The day’s journey ended at Laguna Colorada, the main nesting center for more than 30,000 flamingos of the three different species we learned about the day before in Atacama. 

We spent the night at 4,300m above sea level and unfortunately it was not very pleasant. Luckily, we acclimated by the next morning and hopefully won’t have any other problems at these high altitudes over the next few weeks. 

We were excited to start the day on October 1, since it meant we would be descending to ~3,800m above sea level. We drove to Siloli Desert to see a set of rocks formations resulting from wind erosion. Then we went to the high plain lagoons (also known as colored lagoons) called Laguna Honda, Chiarcota, and Cañapa.

We ended the day at Chiguana Salt Flat in the town of San Juan.

We spent the night at 3,700m above sea level at the Salt Hotel. Almost every piece of the hotel was made of salt! The beds were more comfortable, the temperature was warmer than the night before, and the floors in each room were all covered in salt! 

We woke up at 4:15am on October 2 to head towards the Uyuni Salt Flats for sunrise. It was worth absolutely the early wake up!!!

After the sun rose, we drove a few minutes to Huasi Inca island. While Jugo prepared breakfast, we did a quick hike to the top of the island to see more beautiful views!

After breakfast, we drove into picturesque areas of the salt flats to take our funny pictures (apologies in advance for many, many photos)!!

(P.S. Cody’s new Achilles is working well 😜).

Later we drove towards the Colchani town and passed some salt sculptures on the way. 

Our last stop was at the train cemetery.

We ended in Uyuni where we had lunch and unfortunately had to say goodbye to everyone, as we all went our separate ways. 🙁 
The trip was absolutely awesome and we are glad we made the last minute decision to go to Atacama and Uyuni. The altitude definitely made us uncomfortable, but it was worth it for the views and we were bound to have some crappy hours of acclimating at some point before our trek in Machu Picchu. Now, we are off to La Paz for the evening!!

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