We reached the Bolivian border control after driving up a long long hill out of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, climbing up onto the altiplano to about 4000m altitude. Then a nice man inside stamped my passport.
We were taking a 4WD ‘tour’ across the Bolivian altiplano and to the Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt plain in the world. So as lost seagulls wandered around acting like they were on a pier at the beach, our trusty 4WD was loaded up, and we set out in convoy across the desert.
Apart from us two, our 4WD contained our driver, the young girl acting as cook (and though the meals were simple, some of them were ridiculously tasty – I definitely wasn’t experiencing any loss of appetite with the altitude), and an older French couple, who had very limited English, and slightly more usable Spanish. The other 4WD had a 21 year old driver who liked to listen to La Paz dance club tunes, two Swedish guys, and a Chilean couple. Even with the windows up and vents closed, the dustier roads filled the interior of the 4WD with clouds of dust as the entire vehicle was saturated with the stuff – I started experiencing flashbacks to driving around in the old International truck with Dad.
As we bounced around on the tracks criss-crossing the desert altiplano, dust infiltrating our nasal cavity and lungs, we stared out the windows at the passing volcanos, and lakes, rock and scrubland, vicuÃ±as, and llamas. Alex and I had the back row of seats to ourselves – the only way out was to roll over into the row of seats in front though – a move I perfected after three days of getting in and out of the 4WD every time we stopped.
The sky was blue and clear, but although it looked like it was lovely and warm outside, the altitude meant I was reaching for my down jacket every time we stopped to hop out.
Laguna Blanca was the first lagoon we stopped at – it had no flamingos, but it did have a very nice volcano.