Solar de Uyuni

4 May 2004 2:22 pm

Speeding through Martian landscape

Markus, Anja and I set out for the 3 day tour of the Solars with Colque tours. The other travelers in group turned out to be great. Klaus from Germany, one of the happiest people I’ve every known. Ernesto, another Swiss and Christine a young woman from Australia. Day 1 began at the Bolivian boarder which was at about 4500 meters. I felt light headed and achy from altitude. All day long we wizzed by stunning red martian-like landscape while listening to Pink Floyd and Dark Side of the Moon as our guide Natalio sped through the dessert in our Land Cruiser. Where there is no road, I guess there is no speed limit. Laguna Blanco was… white and Laguna Verde was… green. Nice lakes but nothing compared to Laguna Colorado which was orange and full of thousands of flamingos. How the flamingos get by at sub zero temperatures I can’t imagine. I asked Mario what the flamingos eat and he said they eat the orange algae that colors the lake. I just plain don’t believe that, but I didn’t have the Spanish skills to debate the point with dear old Mario. Our lodge the first night was a simple cinder block building without running water. Inside my sleeping bag and under 4 wool blankets, it was so cold it was difficult to sleep.

Rock Tree

Flamigos enjoying Laguna Colorado

more langunas, more flamingos

Day 2 included more volcanoes and beautiful lagunas, flamingos everywhere. I was never a bird person, but I’ve been completely won over by the penguins, condors and flamingos in South America. The second night we stayed in a ‘regular’ hotel with a bathroom – yeah! The six of us were put in one room with a private bath. Mario lit up the heater for the shower with a tank of gas and told us we had 30 minutes of hot water. We got all excited at the mention of hot water. There was a long duscussion about who would go first, second, etc. You should have seen us buzzing around. It was like ants on a pile of sugar. All the excitement was all for not because the water was cold anyway. Ah, the toils of the Solar.

Cast of characters: Christine, Klaus, Ernesto, Markus, and Anja (clockwise)

Area where they harvest the salt

On day 3 we arrived at the Solar de Uyuni. Wow! A huge expanse of white salt for 60 kilometers in every direction and 15 meters deep. One of the very best places I’ve ever been. The sky was deep blue and the mountains far on the horizon black and the salt eggshell white as far as the horizon. Mario teld us that there is an ancient salt lake UNDER the solar and that this bodu of water used to be part of the ocean. When the Andes rose this great salt lake was cut off. We never did quite get why 15 meters of salt ended up ON TOP of the salt lake. We stopped in the middle of the whiteness for a photo shoot. Click, click, click – we took hundreds of photos. Next we sped off to an island in the ‘salt lake’ which was covered with tall cactus. For lunch, Colque tours set us up with a beautiful llama asado right out in the middle of the Solar. Hmmm llama, hmmm good. One of the best parts of the trip was our group, we had so many laughs. It was a cold, but a very good time. I’ve got to find a way back to this place.

Llama Asado!

Soaking up the energy of the Solar

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One Response to “Solar de Uyuni”

  1. Philip (June 21st, 2004 at 6:24 pm)

    I’m pretty sure your guide was right about the flamingos, i also think that is where they get their color from.