Leaving La Paz

My flight out of La Paz, Bolivia, finally arrived not a moment too soon, and within an hour I was in the beautiful capital city of Sucre. With no plan other than to enjoy a Bolivian city that wasn’t La Paz, I soon bumped into a tour group made up of English, Canadian, Australian and Swiss people. We spent two days together wandering around the beautiful city, watching a parade and drinking a lot of hot chocolate in Chocolate Para Ti, an awesome chocolate café. I also spent the time enjoying Bolivian prices before my upcoming trip to Chile and Argentina.

Just two nights in Sucre and I was off to Uyuni, a small, dusty town where the salt flat tours kick off. My first morning there I met a German brother and sister Julia and Paul, an English guy Jeff and an Australian couple, Sarah and Patrick. None of us was booked on a tour, and the Jeeps seat six, so we were happy to all go together knowing who we were going to be spending the next three days with, squished up very close and personal for many hours in a car. Squished is definitely the word for our in-car situation, especially in the back seat – we were all practically married by the time we said goodbye.

The salt flats tour was amazing, and had the best scenery I’ve seen in all my life. First we went to the salt flats and took the obligatory perspective-skewing photos, which I’ve always wondered about – it turns out you don’t need to be very far from the camera at all to get an awesome photo of the group being stamped on or eaten or held in someone’s hand. Also, looking at others’ photos before, it appeared that they had the salt flats all to themselves, which was very far from the case!

After playing with perspective and licking the ground we went to the train cemetery where you can see cool rusty old trains, then on to a red lagoon full of flamingos, several other beautiful lagoons, a natural hot spring (aka Gringo Soup), a big rock that looks like a tree and that was made famous by Salvador Dali, and past hours of endlessly jaw-dropping landscapes. In just one view you can see snow-topped mountains, multicoloured rolling hills of red, pink, brown and orange, volcanoes, desert, lagoons, salt flats, sand dunes and arid land dotted with tiny scrubs, all at once.

On the first night we stayed in a salt hotel, where everything but the toilet was made of salt – the beds, the tables and chairs, the floor and the walls. The second night we stayed in a smelly, cold concrete block hostel in the middle of the desert and slept with sleeping bags, blankets, hats and gloves (we were at almost 5,000m altitude). The whole trip cost only £85 and was absolutely spectacular.

Then it was straight on to Chile!