We just came back from a wonderful time in the salt flats of Bolivia. We started in the town of Uyuni, which is kind of a dirty little city and is mostly used as a base for the salt flat tours. Uyuni was FREEZING!!! We only stayed one night there and then took off the next morning for our tour of the salt flats.
The salt flats were amazing!! I am not sure of the whole story, becuase our guide spoke all in Spanish, but from what I understood, they are about 12,000 square km and used to be under the Pacific Ocean until the plates shifted and they got pushed up. They sit at about 4000 M (13,200 ft) above sea level and are only interrupted by a couple of islands which are covered with coral, proving that they used to be under water. How cool is that?
Our first day was spent making silly pictures, which I will post later on, and going to see how the salt is harvested and processed. We also visited a town where the buildings are all made of salt. We went to the island, which has a lot of coral on it, as well as being covered with thousand year old cacti. Pretty cool. That night we slept in a local village, where the temperature was...-6 degrees celcius (about 20 degrees F). It was cold! The next day we went and toured the colorful lakes and mountains of the antiplano. The next day we got up at 4 to go see the geysers, which are at 5000 M (16500 ft)!!! It was freezing and hard to breathe! Our next stop was at a thermal springs where the water was warm, but not warm enough for me to get into it!!
After exploring the salt flats, we headed back down (to ONLY 2500 M) to San Pedro de Atacama, which is in Chile and sits right in the middle of the Atacama desert, the driest desert in the world. We met a couple of nice folks from the UK and Australia and hung out with them there. We also all traveled to Salta, Argentina together, where we celebrated Chris and my birthdays (we had not had a chance to celebrate them together before), our 6 month travel anniversary AND 4th of July as well as Matt and Sally's 6 week travel anniversary...It was a lot of fun. We splurged and got a room at the Sheraton, where we decorated the room with balloons and bought hats and noise makers and drank Argentine wine (mmmm) and had a grand time!
Now we are back in Bolivia (high again, 3000 M) and are planning some horseback riding and hiking.