¡Hola! It’s Matt here, since we were last in touch we have travelled a long way and seen a lot of things! From Santiago we took a flight to the world’s driest place, the Atacama desert. We stayed in a touristy but charming town called San Pedro de Atacama, from which we did a tour to a salt-saturated spring (think the dead sea) and a cycle ride (very hot!) To the nearby ‘Valle de la Luna’. Here we got our first introduction to the altitude of the South American ‘Altiplano’. San Pedro is at 2800 metres above level, which certainly made for some heavy breathing while cycling, but it didn’t nearly prepare us for the height of the next section of our trip, when we traversed the border into Bolivia.
Our route into Bolivia was part of a 3 day – 2 night tour to see the ‘Salar de Uyuni’, a 12,000 km square salt flat, but more on that later. We left San Pedro early in the morning on a mini bus, and within 40 minutes had climbed almost 2km to 4,600 metres, at which point we were certainly feeling very light headed. We then met our guide for the three days ‘Pancho’ and our travelling companions, 3 Germans and a Kiwi. Throughout the next two days we were driven across the barren Altiplano, visiting everything from Lagunas to Geysers to rocks shaped like trees. On the morning of our third day, we all woke up bright and early at 4.30am (maybe not so bright) to see the sunrise over the salt flats. After two of our drivers stumbled out of bed, shook off their hangovers and found the missing third driver, we were off! The sunrise and salt flats were spectacular to say the least, unbelievably huge, stretching as far as the eye can see in all directions
After a wonderful day on the salt flats we were driven to the town of Uyuni, which didn’t give us a fantastic first impression of Bolivia, to put it bluntly, it was full of shit. But after a night in a cheap and reasonably pleasant hostel, we took a long coach ride to the city of Sucre, if Uyuni disappointed us slightly, moving to a new city was definitely a big improvement. Our time in Sucre was relaxing, even if we didn’t exactly do too much, apart from Spanish lessons and eat. We stayed in Sucre for a total of 8 nights, during which we took 15 hours of lessons, which certainly helped our confidence and vocabulary a great deal. Our hotel in Sucre was fantastic, and it was made better by the fact that we met our friends Duncan and Zara there, with whom we shared 6 of our 8 days in Sucre. (You can find their blog at http://www.duncanandzara.blogspot.com). We even managed to have a Sunday lunch on Easter!
After over a week, we finally decided it was time to move on and took a long overnight bus (cama style, full recline!) To La Paz, the highest capital in the world. More about that and adventures in the jungle next time! ¡Hasta luego!