Wednesday, 30 September 2015

skimming the salt flats


With a 3-week volunteering project lined up in Ecuador with Girlguiding this summer, I knew I had to take the opportunity to see as much of South America as I could.  So when my team returned to the UK, I stayed on to travel.  Deciding where to go was easy: it had to be Bolivia.  And it had to be the salt flats.

I had seen pictures of the huge, flat plains of salt when googling South America back in university.  It's been on my list to visit ever since, as I have literally never seen anywhere else like it.  So I booked my flights to Bolivia, joined a tour run by Oasis Overland, caught a 4-hour bus and a 7-hour train up to Uyuni, and got ready to explore the region by jeep.




We set off nice and early one morning, and before long approached the edge of the salt flats.  It's dazzlingly white as the sun arrows down from an impossibly blue sky, and reflects in a hazy glare.  And it's cold.  Bitterly cold.  But there is so much beauty here, in a stark, brittle way.  We climbed out of the jeep, and you almost expect to be stepping onto snow.  But instead it's hard planes, cracked into geometric tangles, and playing with perspective.

And then it was time to do the 'funny photos'.  As Marco, our guide, said.  You don't need to tell me twice!




We drove to Incahuasi island; a rock jutting out from the flat salt.  Climbing to the summit, it really did feel like being on an island in a sea of pure white, and it was surreal to watch a jeep drive across its surface in the distance. Somehow in the crystalline cold, cacti reach their spikes up to the sun in defiance. The views were spectacular, and we explored, ventured into caves, and definitely didn't poke any of the prickles.





In fact, this vast, alien, ethereal landscape s impossible to describe, so I shall simply share pictures, and observe with some resignation that I should remember to clean my lens more regularly in sandy, dusty, windy environments!

We reached the edge of the salt flats as the sun set, and Marco, our guide, commandeered lodgings for us all in a hotel made of salt!  It was simple (not so much with the electricity) but lovely, and we met lots of other travellers, sat round a salt table on salt stools, and headed for bed on our salt beds, wrapped up warm in 4 layers of blankets and a sleeping bag to fight against the rapidly dropping temperature.

An incredible experience, and we still had 2 more days exploring this wonderful, ecclectic, dazzling land.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Seriously, needed to clean my lens SO BAD. But never have I been so grateful for a polarising filter!

4 comments:

  1. Fabulous photos and what a fascinating place!

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  2. Your photos are AMAZING!!!!!

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  3. Wow what an experience you have had. Amazing photos despite the mucky lense!

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  4. The lens grit looks like a filter someone would add on purpose! Don't beat yourself up about it...the photos are wonderful and years from now that grit on the photos will be another reminder of the unreal atmosphere of the place. =)
    PS - I'm not much of a traveler and I love that I can live vicariously through your photos and stories! =)

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