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Salar de Uyuni - Salt flats

One of our funny pictures 😂😂😂😂 more further into the blog 

We decided to stay an extra day in Oruro and drive into the centre and walk around. Also read there is a cable car going up to the top of a hill that gives a good view of the city and area.

This is the airport we stayed at in Oruro
So later in the morning we drive in and try to find a spot to park near the plaza, but when we thought we had one, a policia told us we couldn't park there, and when I asked why since there were other vehicles parked there, I of course couldn't understand her answer! So we go back and try to find another spot. We also see that the police here have ALOT of Denver Boots to put on cars that are parked illegally, first time we've seen this! And this is really just a small town! The police put on the boot and then remove the license plate. BOOM!! You want your plate and boot removed come to the policia station and pay the fine😆

We find no place to park so we headed to the cable car and forget about the plaza.  We get to the cable cars and they are closed! It only operates on Wednesdays and weekends. So we parked Vanna in the parking area and walked to the plaza since it's less then a km away.  Once there we walk around the main plaza park, not a lot to see here. We then went for lunch and decide no reason to say here any longer so after lunch we head back to Vanna and leave the city. We will see how close we can get to Uyuni today.

Kids having fun sliding down this huge concrete slide on a piece of cardboard 

Monument for the miners 

The station for the cable car with bronze looking figures displayed on the side showing different areas of their culture, dancing, different gods, pan flute player
The busy main plaza  

Train coming thru the middle of the main street in Oruro as we are leaving!
As we leave Oruro we stop for gas - our first fill-up since arriving in Bolivia. Here foreigners have to pay DOUBLE the price that locals pay!! We get one bill at local price 3.74Bol per litre then we get a second bill for 4.74Bol per litre for a total of 8.18Bol a litre!! Crazy - so the locals pay 65cents Can and we pay $1.65C a litre!! Yup not staying long in this country!  That's a crazy price to pay for fuel. Wonder why Bolivians don't want tourists??

Interesting looking mountain in the middle of the altiplano of flat nothing

Rain over in a small area of the altiplano

Then came upon this small area of strange rock formations along the highway

Got to see some more vicuñas

And some flamingos on a small lake aways from the highway - had to zoom in on them
We drive until 5:30 because we are getting close to Uyuni so decide to go all the way and check with a tour company about going out to the salt flats. We go to one that was recommended on IOverlander and book for a one day tour for the next day. Cost is 380Bol $76C for both of us. Hoping for a sunny day so the salt flats with a water covering will give us spectacular reflections.  Have to bring out our boots for this tour! We end up parking for the night outside the tour office. The tour begins at 10:30am

Woke up in the morning to a clear blue sky - going to be a great day!! But as we were waiting to go it started to cloud over and rain a bit. Hopefully it will clear later.

Our first stop is the Train Cemetery where they have been putting old trains for the last 20 years. Lots of rusted locomotives and cars. Guess they think it looks good - adds to their history.
Told Dwayne OK you better climb that rusty engine like everyone else! LOL!!

Then we head towards the Salar de Uyuni but we have to stop at the souvenir stalls first! But at least there is a building where they demonstrate the process of making salt.
Inside the salt factory - here the salt on top of a wood fired oven to dry and separate the salt 

Then it's put into this machine to grind it fine and add iodine 

Then moved over to this bin where it is bagged and sealed for sale

Salt crystal and salt blocks cut from the salt flats
Then we finally get onto the salt flats. When we drive on it's like driving onto a frozen lake in the early spring when there is just a little water on top. The good thing here is that we don't have to worry about falling thru the ice!  When we get out the salt is wet and slushy just like snow, but it's VERY salty LOL!!!  The reflections are great even though we don't have clear blue sky. With the clouds it is really hard to determine where the real horizon is. We stop at a building made from salt bricks which is now a museum and also an area where some tours feed their guests.  After this we continue driving further out towards the middle of the salt flats.  This salar is 12,500 square kms in area. 150km across from where we entered to the other side.  They did drill a hole at the south end and went down 480m before they hit rock. They believe it is much deeper than that in the middle.  The extracting of the salt is done about 30kms away from where the tour vehicles drive - good thing because Dwayne saw some oil marks on the salt at one place we parked. It is also very weird to walk on the salt because it looks so much like ice we think we're going to slip and fall on our butts, but it's not slippery just slushy due to it being the rainy season.  In the dry season the whole area is a blinding white.

Salt water bubbling up from the ground water from the surrounding mountains

Miles and miles of salt flats

In the rainy season the salt flats are covered with water- so we got to wear our boots 

The water gives a great refection of the mountains and sky 

Yup that's Dwayne way out there

I missed the "3" but I did jump which really hurt my hip when I landed 😰

Can you tell where the real and the reflection starts?

Such fantastic views - even if it is cloudy

the floor of the salt flats under water showing all these different shapes. In the dry season the edges are all raised around the shapes

Hey how did 2 of me get in this picture???? Only my cousin knows LOL!!!

One small cloud dumping rain onto the salar

Pretty small in this huge area! Here you can see the shapes and raised edges in this dry area

Around 3pm our guide Alexandro stops to setup a table and chairs for us to have lunch. He had picked up the food in the area where the souvenir shops were.  Once he had it all setup we enjoyed a meal of pork chop, vegetables and quinoa. Plus water and coke.  I think Coke has the monopoly in Bolivia. Especially since they donate $10,000 US to the prisoner's football team! We haven't found any Pepsi yet, which is what Dwayne likes.

Alexandro setting up for lunch

Ya! We're ready to eat!!

Dakar races were held here from 2014 to 2018
Drivers would bring flags from their country to place here on a mound outside the museum - and we forgot to bring a flag to add and be the only Canadian flag 😭

Inside the museum is a large area made of salt tables and chairs for tours to feed their clients - we had ours outside :) 

here it looks like they are rebuilding a wall

They cut the blocks and then use watered down salt as a motor

This block of salt is what they use in building the wall - shows the different layers with sediment between 

One of the salt trucks taking a load to the factory

The wind that blows across here rolls the salt into small balls
After lunch it was time for some funny pictures. On instagram there are hundreds of strange pictures that at taken at Salar de Uyuni - not sure who or when it started but it is fun setting them up.

No No stop!!!

My new friend Mr Hulk :) 

Making friends with the mammoth 

So I can ride him!! YAHOO!!!!

The salt has shrunk Dwayne!!

Quite the view out here 
Our tour is suppose to continue until around 7:30 so we can see the sunset. But since it is a cloudy day and the young guy that was on the tour with his mom and older brother was tired and wanted to go back to Uyuni - and since Dwayne and I didn't really care to stay another 3 hours to wait for a "maybe sunset" we said no problem with us to go back early. We were both pretty tired so we ended up getting back to Vanna by 6pm. Guess we're a little tired because the street we parked last night ended up being a busy street with buses coming in at 1am and lots of dogs barking!!! No roosters thought LOL!! So tonight we've moved to a side street that should be quiet, can't hear any dogs barking right now so hopefully it will stay that way.

We ended going to bed shortly after 8 and I didn't wake up until 7:45!!! It was a very nice quiet restful night! No dogs barking until this morning.  Today we head east to Potosi and then Sucre. Get into the mountains a little.

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