On this second day of your excursion leading us to the Uyuni Salt Flat, we woke up early, after a very short night of sleep. Some of our friends, on the contrary, had surprisingly spent a very good night. We had breakfast and headed back to the jeep, happy to leave the mountain refuge and to continue the adventure. We would do a lot of driving today, and also discover some other beautiful places.
ADMIRING THE STONE TREE
The “stone tree” or “arbol de piedra” is a seven-meter-high rock formation located about 18 kilometers north of the Laguna Colorada, in the middle of the desert.There was nothing around us, and suddenly appeared this strange formation out of nowhere. The shape of the rock is due to strong winds carrying sand and eroding the soft sandstone.
We got out of the jeep and walked around the stone tree and other nearby rock formations. We were surprised to see some rocks that vaguely looked like a famous sphinx…
BEING SURPRISED BY THE COLOR OF THE LAGUNA HONDA
We then hopped back into the jeep and reached three lagoons, located very close to each others. As I mentioned before, Edgar was not a talker. Each time we reached a lagoon, all he told us was basically that the color of the water was due to minerals contained inside. Thank you Edgar. 😉
WATCHING FLAMINGOS AT THE LAGUNA HEDIONDA
We stayed longer at the Hedionda lagoon as we were fascinated by the colony of flamingos, only five meters away from us. Part of the water of the lagoon was frozen and the flamingos were walking on the ice.
ONE LAST LAGOON FOR THE ROAD: LA LAGUNA CANAPA
PICNIC WITH A VIEW ON THE OLLAGUE VOLCANO
We then reached the “Mirador del volcan Ollague”. From there we had an amazing view on the volcano which peaks at some 5 530 meters above sea level. We were walking around and taking pictures as Edgar was preparing lunch. What a nice picnic place…
MASTERING THE ONION TECHNIC
And then we went back to the jeep and spent a good part of the afternoon in the car. What was hard about this trip was the extreme temperature change between night and day. As we were very cold when we woke up, we would put several layers of clothing, and then as the day would go by, it would be hotter and hotter and we had to take most of these layers off. By the end of the day, the jeep would look like a winter clothes store…
FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH A SALT FLAT: EL SALAR DE CHIGUANA
We finally reached the Chiguana Salt Flat. As we were getting closer to the Uyuni Salt Flat, the landscape was starting to change and the grounds began to look as if they had been sprinkled with salt. We reached the small Chiguana Salt Flat. It was much smaller and very different from the Uyuni Salt Flat that we would discover the following day, but it was enough to get us very excited. Indeed, exploring the Uyuni Salt Flat was one of the biggest dreams we wanted to make come true during this trip across the Andes (the number two being the amazing Machu Pichu).
THE DANGERS OF THE DESERT
As we were getting closer to our hotel, we saw a young lady waving desperately at us. We stopped to see what was happening and she told us that their jeep was stuck in the salt! They had no way to get out of there. Edgar tried to get close to their jeep but quickly realized that we would get stuck too if we came any closer. So he drove us to our hotel and then went back to help these poor tourists.
SPENDING THE NIGHT IN A HOTEL MADE OF SALT
Finally we reached our hotel for the night which was made of salt! It was still quite basic but much better than the mountain refuge. It was not cold at all and we even had hot water! The time was limited to five-minutes by person and there was only a little string of water but we were very happy with that. Before going to bed we spent some time watching the stars. Being in the middle of the desert, there was no “light-pollution” and we got to see an incredible amount of stars as well as the milky way! I had never seen so many stars in the sky before. We went to bed early as we would be waking up at dawn the next day to get to see the sun rise in the Uyuni Salt Flat!