We awoke to the coldest day of the trip so far – it was amazing how much the temperature had dropped over night. After a warm breakfast and some coca tea we were ready to go on our Salt Flats tour Day 3, although we wondered how today could top yesterday after all the amazing things we’d already seen.
First stop was the Valle de las Rocas. More random and crazy rock structures, formed by wind erosion from the strong winds that blow here.
Driving to the next stop, we saw some of the last flamingos in the area, who hadn’t yet migrated to the warmer climes of Chile. Wilfredo stopped the car so we could jump out for a look. It was the first time either of us had seen flamingos outside a zoo or park. The flamingos looked strange, yet graceful, as they slowly walked away from us, not interested in showing off for our cameras.
Next stop we were adding another coloured lake to the list – Laguna Negra (Black Lake). The lake isn’t accessible by jeep, so we walked for about ½ hour to reach it through a beautiful valley of grassy islands and frozen streams, with chinchillas sunning themselves on the mountaintops, occasionally jumping from peak to peak.
When we reached Laguna Negra, it took our breath taken away (and not because of the altitude). We weren’t expecting the views that greeted us once we finally reached the top. The lake was actually black and made even more stunning as it had completely frozen over. The icy surface mirroring the sky and surrounding mountains, as well as providing an ice rink for the ducks and water fowl.
It must have been a special place, as even Maria and Wilfredo were in awe here.
After we’d taken in the view, we went off to explore. Climbing up the rocky mountains, we had an amazing view of the entire area.
After Laguna Negra, we stopped for lunch in a small town with not a lot to recommend it, until a local herd of llamas joined us for lunch, unphased by our presence. You can meet some of our lunch companions here.
On the road again, the landscape continued to change as we were reaching the outskirts of the Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni salt flats).
The day ended with a bizarre stop at the Museo de Momias, a museum/cemetery of the local people. In the museum we learnt about the history of the area, and in the cemetery you could walk around and actually look into the mounds, where centuries earlier, the important people of the time had been buried. When I say buried, they were actually just placed in the mounds with their belongings, and so today you can still see their bones and skulls. Not our favourite stop on the tour.
Our final night was spent in Chuvica, at one of the salt hotels, where the walls, tables, chairs and beds, were all made from salt – apart from the mattress of course. Just to be sure we licked the walls, and yes, it was salt. Although we then wondered how many people before us had done the same. Gross. Staying in the salt hotel was a fun experience, but of course it was built for tourist novelty value only. It’s not traditional architecture.
Before dinner we took a walk through town, past the quinoa fields, and were treated to an amazing sunset.
The last two days had been out of this world, and tomorrow was the big day – the salt flats. We went to bed early, as all going to plan, tomorrow morning we would be watching the sunrise on the Salar de Uyuni.