We arrived off the night bus from La Paz at around 8am. I would like to say that we are used to night buses now and that we have experienced a variety; from freezing cold buses where we wore ALL our clothes and playing Charlottes Web in Spanish on repeat very loudly through broken buzzy speakers on a bus with no toilet, to luxury full-cama bed seats serving us champagne and food. But this bus was a whole other experience. The bus was new, it had a toilet, it served food, had a tv and even seat belts. It had everything going for it, it was a full on tourist bus. But no matter how good the bus is, if you travel over 60% of the way on unpaved roads, you are not sleeping (unless they very quickly invent hover-buses, which i strongly recommend)
Your best bet of getting some shut eye is making sure you fall asleep as soon as you have finished your food, whilst the roads are still smooth and then just grinning and bearing it until you arrive. I can only try and describe the roads for you and the best example would be that the roads are so bad, the bus actually stops in the morning so that you can eat the breakfast they serve you, otherwise it would look like a crackers and Oreos massacre. They also recommend you don’t use the toilet they provide during the unpaved section, just so you don’t make a mess in there! Either way, we arrived in one piece, although everyone on the bus was passing back peoples shoes, bags, coats, etc that decided to bounce their way somewhere else during transit.
We quickly found our hostel (which isn’t so hard in such a small place) and the man kindly had a room waiting so we were able to drop our bags and quickly sort ourselves before finding some actual breakfast before our tour started in an hour or so. Unfortunately this “sorting ourselves out” did not include a shower or even a change of clothes, just a quick teeth brush. So far the clothes we had on had lasted us since the morning before, we are on 24hrs and counting……tad disgusting. Any who, we got some brekkie and then went to the train station to find some tickets to Tupiza as it is safer and a more pleasant journey than the bus. We did this, and were booked in for that night/early morning train leaving Uyuni at 1.30am. This was going to be a loooong few days.
Our 1 day tour to the Salt Flats started at 10 am and we were picked up in 4×4 and firstly taken to the train graveyard which was cool although a bit eery. Unfortunately our tour guide/driver spoke only Spanish and so we only got about 25% of what he was actually saying.
After the graveyard we drove for a good hour or so over pure salt with nothing else on the horizon, it was a great sight. So great (and so smooth) that I caught up on some much needed sleep the whole way there…..When I finally woke up we were at what looked like the biggest meeting point of 4x4s I had ever seen. This was the lunch spot, Inca Huasi, where you get great panoramic views of the salt flats and go on a little walk around a cactus farm. Firstly thought, we ate. We ate llama steaks and salad and it was lovely! We then made our own way around the mini-trek walky thing and saw some amazing views of pure gleaming whiteness as far as the eye could see. It was blindingly beautiful.
We got back in the car and set off for a quiet patch which took about 30mins to find so that we could take the classic ‘salt flat’ pictures. This is where our guide came to life and seemed to enjoy his job, putting us in silly positions to take some funny photos. Which i think we managed to achieve.
On the way back to Uyuni we stopped at a mountain for a little bit and the guide explained in Spanish about it. We stood and stared. Then got back in the car for the sleepy journey back. Once we got back we finally got a shower and changed into clean-ish clothes (yippeee!) and got a quick bite to eat before we bedded down early so we could try and sleep for a few hours before our alarm went off again at 1am….