On the border of Chile and Bolivia, you will find a sacred stretch of 4WD tracks leading you through lagoons, mud pools, volcanic rocks, deserts, beautiful animals, tiny villages and of course, the spectacular salt flats. We had such a memorable three day trip, shared with our friends from Germany, Holland and Sweden. Here’s what we got up to!
DAY ONE / Beginning our tour in San Pedro de Atacama, we were already at 2700m above sea level and had prepared with some prior day trips at 4000m. We were beginning to adjust to the altitude, however, it still managed to take a toll on our group throughout the three day journey. The first few hours were spent crossing the border from Chile into Bolivia, with breakfast at the Bolivian border. We then loaded the roof of our 4WD with LOTS of luggage and met our driver, Nefi from World White Travel. The lagoon tour then commenced! Throughout the day we stopped at a number of lagoons, some with amazing reflections, some with striking colours, some with flamingoes. Before lunch, we stopped for a quick dip at some thermal pools with a beautiful view of a lagoon. We then arrived at our accommodation for night one. We had some lunch with lots of cocoa tea to help with the headaches and drove a short ten minutes to the remarkable Red Lagoon or Laguna Colorada. Between three and five in the afternoon is the best time to watch the glitzy flamingoes and absorb the rosy aqua. We spent an hour with our jaws open and cameras flashing but we easily could have spent hours taking it all in. Definitely one of the highlights of the tour. After dinner, we walked through the street and found ‘shop’ where we had a cocoa beer to assist with the altitude. Snoozing 4000m above sea level for night one, we all had a few extra layers on our beds.
DAY TWO / An early start for our second day and a big day of driving ahead. For the majority of the day it felt like it was just the landscape, 4WD and our small group of seven. So peaceful, so relaxed! Throughout the day we climbed rocks at Stone Tree, gazed at more lagoons and flamingoes, posed at Rock Valley, shepherded llamas and drank beers at a teeny town. The final stop was our ‘Salt Hotel’, an entire hotel made from salt bricks, even the tables and chairs. For dinner we had pollo (chicken) and a variety of papas (potatoes) and platanas fritas (fried bananas). We were certainly fed very well at every meal of our trip! An early night for all, as we had to be up at 5am to catch the sunrise the following morning.
DAY THREE / This morning would have to be one of the BEST of our trip. Watching the sunrise on the watery reflection of the salt flats, UNBELIEVABLE! The glows from every direction, the silhouettes in the shadow of the sunrise, the freezing feet of those who dared to enter barefoot and the forever smiling faces of everyone in our group. Once we had viewed the sunrise we drove on what felt like a salt flat highway to Cactus Island. One of the most bizarre places. In the middle of absolutely nowhere, a few littles huts, toilets and a walking track to appreciate the infinite salt flats. After walking to the top of the island, we ventured back down for our gourmet breakfast. Looking over the salt flats, we sipped on our coffees and were so content with our brekkie location. We then spent some time playing with perspective shots before driving to the ‘the middle of nowhere’. Here we had a BLAST! All we needed were props, iPhones and a bit of creativity and we had some photos that will forever remind us of the fun we had on this trip. The hexagonal pattern of the salt, surrounded by the sapphire sky really made for a perfect backdrop for our pics. Next we stopped at the first salt hotel (illegally built), then drove off the salt flats to some artisanal markets, with every souvenir you could have dreamed of. Then to the train cemetery in Uyuni and some lunch. That was it, three of the greatest days! Lovely company, great tunes, good vibes and crazy scenery, what more could you want?
If you’re crossing the border between Bolivia and Chile, this has to be the way to do it. We were so impressed with the hospitality and quality of our English speaking guide Nefi. A place that still feels so unique and special. The biggest and highest salt flat in the world, an unforgettable stretch of natural beauty.
Much love, Salty Laura xx