Central Aust '09
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From La Paz we had to take an overnight bus to Uyuni. We had some time to kill so we had dinner at the hotel, which was Spinach Ravioli for Briony, Chefs Lasagne for me and Banana Shakes for us both. 77Bs all up for the food. After dinner I popped down the street to grab some snacks. I brought back some water plus 3 packets of biscuits and 2 small cakes all for 30Bs, and 1Bs for 4 bananas.
We then arranged a taxi to the Turisbus office where we would meet the bus for the overnight journey. We ended up departing around 9pm and they did serve some food onboard but we had already eaten of course. They played 'Jumper' the movie, and then after the movie it was lights out ready for sleep.
Of course Briony was beginning to fidget and complain about being uncomfortable. We grabbed our backpack and put it under her feet, and tried to get her more comfy with pillows but we didn't seem to have much success.
About half way (just a guess) through the trip the bus became very loud and bumpy as we were now travelling on a dirt road. We could not tell if the bus was just going really fast, or of the road was really bad or perhaps both, but the noise and bumping was unreal. I don't think anyone really had much sleep along that road. I was keeping an eye on the luggage which I was sure was going to fall out of the racks and smash on the floor.
We eventually arrived to Uyuni at 07:30, it was a clear and sunny morning but quite cold.
We met Gladys (our tour guide?) at the bus, she took us to the Perla de Bolivia tour office where we waited for a bit. We eventually found out we had some time to kill before our trip, so I took a walk around the town. It was perfectly safe, and actually quite nice to walk around even though it was quite basic and a little dirty in places.
Back at the office we were really none the wiser as to exactly what was going on. Eventually a 4WD turned up and we were told this was our car. We weren't allowed to take big bags with all our luggage so we grabbed just the stuff we needed and secured our other stuff within the office. Before long we'd picked up some other passengers and we were on our way!
Our first stop was an awesome site that is referred to as the Train Cemetary. There's heaps and heaps of old trains there, just sitting on old abandoned tracks slowly rusting away. I haven't read up on them specifically but Im guessing at some stage they retired the steam trains and probably just decided it's easier to just park them and leave them, rather than scrapping them. Either way it makes for a cool tourist attraction :)
Following the train cemetary we visited a hotel which was made of salt. We had a look at some sculptures they had inside and our guides cooked a lunch which we ate outside.
Next stop was Fish Island. I'm not sure why it's called Fish Island but basically it's a small island that pops up in the middle of a massive salt lake, and it's full of really huge cactus/cacti. There's a nice walking path that goes around and up and over the rocks that make up the island, and this allows close viewing of the cacti. In front of the island, just near where the cars park, is the massive expanse of the salt plain/lake. This is where it seems every single tourist (ourselves included) would do silly things to create interesting photos. The only thing I can really say about the photos we took of Briony would be, "white man can't jump".
After Fish Island we had some driving to do. We didn't stop any any remarkable places along the way however the general scenery is nice. The long-ish drive did provide an opportunity for some reading. We eventually reached our accomodation for the night which was a hotel made of salt in Atulcha. We had dinner by candle light and had a good sleep in the comfortable beds.
The next day was soon upon us, and first stop of the day (after some driving) was Volcan Tunupa. For some reason while writing this text (which incidentally is being written almost 4 years after our trip!) I suddenly remembered our tour guides had a bunch of music cassettes, yes cassettes in the car and they were full of Australian Music from the 80s and 90s. That was pretty cool. Anyway, here's some photos of Volcan Tunupa and the mysterious green moss plant ..
Following Volcan Tunupa and the green moss plant we drove some more to a another lake where there was an old building structure. Our guides set up lunch in the old building and while they cooked we had a wander around. We climbed up onto some high rocks where it was very windy but afforded a nice view over the landscape. Up there, in the wind, I managed to fish out the necklace that I had bought for Briony and I asked her if she'd like to marry me. Her repsonse was a super-excited "I spose". Briony then proceeded to lose her hat in the wind so I had to go chase after it.
After lunch we went to see some big rocks, and then drove to Laguna Colorada where there is a nice lookout from up high and there are also lots of pink flamingos.
After a decent night's sleep in the communal accomodation, we rose early and drove to see the Sol de Manana Geysers. These are awesome big steam vents and there are some large open fissures with boiling water coming out of the ground. But oh my, it was COLD - we had out jumpers and jackets and hats on, and gloves, but our fingers still turned numb with cold. Following the geysers we went to Centro Comunal Quetena Grande which is I guess a like a community centre where all the different tour groups come to eat and mingle. Across the road there is a huge hot baths too, literally just natural hot water. We didn't go in, but in hinsdight we probably should have.
After breakfast we started our trip back to Uyuni. We visited Laguna Verde on the way, aswell as a small town of which I don't know the name. We saw some more big rocks, then some more driving then a final stop at San Cristobal.
We arrived back at Uyuni in the evening, and pretty much straight away grabbed our things and got the bus back to La Paz.
Next: La Paz, Bolivia
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