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Salar de Uyuni Tour

May 29th, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 17-Bolivia - (4 Comments)

Colourful altiplano lakes, weird rock playgrounds, flamingos, volcanoes and, most famously of all, the blindingly white salt flat of Uyuni: these are some of the rewards for taking an excursion into Bolivia via the Salar de Uyuni Tour (Lonely Planet).

A little background:  Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat at 10,882 km2.  It is located in the Potosi and Oruro departments in the crest of the Andes, 3,650 meters above sea level.  Some 40,000 years ago the area was part of Lake Minchin, a giant prehistoric lake.  When the lake dried, it left behind two major salt deserts, now estimated to contain over 10 billion tones of salt.  Every November, the area is the breeding grounds for three species of South American flamingos. As it is so flat it serves as a major transport route across the Bolivian Altiplano.  You can read more here.

We have no idea where to start when trying to describe the amazing time we had on this tour.  Three days in a teeth-shattering bone-shaking 40 year old jeep, altitudes of 4,000m and above, 25 to -10 degrees celcuis, concrete blocks for beds and cold showers.  Yes, amazing stuff and if, like us, you can get past these you will have an amazing experience. 

It is the landscape what makes this tour such a wonderful experience! We have tried to capture the best parts in our pictures below i.e. mountains, desert terrain, flora and fauna.  It was amazing from the minute we crossed the Bolivian border (pic 1) until we arrived in Uyuni 3–days later.  The company, guides, lodgings and food were just outstanding – and all for $120US per person.

Sure we broke down a few times, had a flat tire, nearly keeled over when off-roading, caught fire (electrical fault), radiator burst and ran out of fuel, but what an experience…

It was near on impossible to narrow down 1,000 photographs to 10 for this post so we’ve included nearly 50, so apologies to those with a slow connection.

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Out’n about in the desert…

May 29th, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 13-Chile - (2 Comments)

They say that San Pedro is an oasis surrounded by geysers, sand dunes, salt flats and lost Andean villages.  What better way to find out than rent some bikes and set off and explore for the day..

Looking back, we had a pretty hectic day and covered a respectable 65k on the desert roads.  The pictures below are pretty random but encompass Quebrada del Diablo (Devil’s George), Pukara De Quitor (a crumbling 12th century fortress ruins) and Valle De La Luna or Valley of the moon (a maze of sandunes where you can see the sunset over the Andes).

We left our hostel at 8:30am and didn’t return until 8pm so it was pretty full on.  After sunset we had a 12–14k bike ride home in the dark.  We had hoped to fit in the desert star-gazing tour upon our return but it was fully booked – damn – no tour agencies were open when we set off. 

Star-gazing in the Atacama desert is supposed to be best in the world and we were absolutely gutted to have missed out.  Our neighbours came back with pictures of Saturn, falling stars and various other astronomy marvels – adding salt to an already gaping wound.  Nevertheless, it was still pretty amazing having the opportunity stare up at the sky to see the sheer number of stars and the milky way in such a remote part of the world.

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San Pedro de Atacama

May 23rd, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 13-Chile - (1 Comments)

Across the border once again from Salta in Argentina to the tiny town of San Pedro de Atacama in northern Chile.  We have only been here a few hours and are chomping at the bit to get out and about.  It looks incredibly beautiful and what we had expected most of South America to look like.

As we haven’t done a lot here so far, and have a busy scheduled for tomorrow, we are writing this post as a means of letting you know that we have very very limited access to internet and probably won’t get a minute to sit down and write for the next several days.  Tomorrow we are off on a bike tour and the following day we take a 3–day 4wd tour across the desert and salt flats from San Pedro to Uyuni in Bolivia.  

When we get to our destination we’ll provide an update.  All the best for now.

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Salta

May 22nd, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 14-Argentina - (1 Comments)

This post will take all of about two minutes to write.  We had a few days stopover in the city of Salta on our way to San Pedro.  A beautiful place with a colonial styled chill out vibe. 

We toured around for the day, went out to see a traditional dance show, had far too many bottles of wine and eventually hit the sack at 4am.  Argentina is notorious for its late nights.  Restaurants don’t open until late so we ended up going out for dinner at 11pm – mad isn’t it!

A late rise the following morning so nothing got done other than  chill out at  the hostel and play around on the internet.  Some days you just need some chill time.

Sorry for the lack of and quality of photos.

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Iguazu National Park

May 22nd, 2009 | Posted by Davey in 14-Argentina - (2 Comments)

Right on the border of Brazil and Argentina lies the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Iguazu National Park.  Some 275 waterfalls plunging from heights up to 80m in an awesome, deafening display.

A hectic day getting around the park, 6 hours pretty much non stop.  So much to see: the Upper and Lower Circuit Trails, San Martin Island and the mighty Garganta del Diablo Trail which hosts the mother of all waterfalls and it’s what people are referring to when they say the Iguazu Falls.

Water aside, the 55,000 hectare park is a natural wonderland of sub-tropical rainforest with over 2,000 plant species, 400 bird species and many mammals and reptiles.  We got a fair few out of focus shots of some unusual animals but seen plenty plenty more on our way around.

The boffs take in the waterfalls from both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides. Not us, one was enough.  At the end of the day you have pictures of waterfalls from every angle, as you’ll see below, do you need more?  In all it was a great day out and well worth the £6 entrance fee.

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