If day 1 on the salt flat felt like standing in an ocean of white salt, days 2 and 3 on the altiplano (high altitude plateau) felt like standing on Mars. It was truly otherworldly.
Here’s just a taste of what I mean:
As ridiculous as it might seem, that’s a completely unedited picture. But, I’m getting ahead of myself, lets start from the beginning of the day.
We woke up really early, as we had a long drive to get to the first location. After 2-3 hours of very bumpy roads, we went from desert… to something entirely different. I’m not really sure the best way to describe or portray this day, as it was just a non-stop whirlwind of driving from place to place, so I think I’m just going to put pictures in chronological order and add commentary where I think its necessary.
The first stop was a simple mountainous region with volcanoes and weird rock-like plants:
From there, we went to a sequence of absolutely stunning lagoons:
One of the lagoons also had what may be my favorite sign ever. There are just so many parts to it that don’t make sense:
We played soccer at 14,000 feet:
Visited some amazing rock formations that had been formed from just the wind:
And ended the day at Laguna Colorado, the place that made me feel like I was on mars:
The third morning, we were up at 4:30am, much to the chagrin of three of my hungover companions. As had become routine at this point, we all clambered into the jeep, got as comfortable as possible, and embarked on another long drive. Right as the sun was coming up, we arrived at our destination: a huge swath of geothermal smoke vents
Next up was a natural hotspring:
And then we rounded out the morning by driving all the way to the border of Chile, passing through this along the way:
This part of the altiplano is called the Salvador Dali desert, as its landscapes evoke the imagery of Dali’s surrealist style. We also passed one more incredible lagoon before reaching the border:
At the border, Florin and Tom left us to cross into Chile, and then the rest of us began our long ride back to Uyuni. It was a six hour drive, and we all were a little delirious by the end, but it wasn’t too bad as I had my kindle and some impressive views:
We got back to Uyuni in the afternoon, and before going our separate ways, we all sat in the main square and ate dinner together. It was a great way to end the trip. As is almost always the case with travel friendships, my time with them was fleeting but it felt like I had known them for far longer than three days. After eating and enjoying a nice sunset, I left the group behind and got my bus to the border of Argentina. The next chapter of my adventure was beginning.