03.01.17 Uyuni, Bolivia
Yesterday, we set off from Oruro, and headed out of town on Route 1.
After following this route for 170 km, we turned onto route 30. This was a stunner! The road wound higher and higher, until we both were feeling very breathless again, but it was worth it, as it seemed like we were the only souls riding along this beautiful black topped road lined with Vicuna, and tiny villages, some pretty, some in disrepair.
In the distance we could see two sets of snow-capped mountain peaks, and they were our companion for most of the ride, as we skirted all the way from one side of them to the other.
At one stop, we discussed how everything that has gone before seems worthwhile when we arrive in a place like this, that perhaps this was the type of thing we’d had in our mind’s eye since setting off. We’ve started to have a lot of ‘pinch me- I can’t believe we’re here’ moments lately.
Our destination was Colchani, a tiny village on the edge of the Salar de Uyuni Salt flats. When we were about 10km from town, we could suddenly see a bright white glinting up ahead. We’d arrived at the famous place. Next week the Dakar Rally will be visiting this area, and as we rode along yesterday we came across a village that the Rally had visited last year. There is a buzz around the Rally with some of the Bolivians, and they seem very excited to be promoting their country via this interesting and challenging sport.
The Salar de Uyuni is a natural wetland, which covers hundreds of miles right to the edge of Chile. It is possible to take your vehicle onto the flats and ride, but we have decided to give this a miss this time, as the salt is extremely
corrosive to every part of the bike. We also considered a guided tour, but the least amount of time you could visit for was 5 hours, and Paul was worried about being trapped ‘with people singing at us, in costumes’ again.
Instead, we are staying at Hotel Luna Salada, right on the edge of the salt flats, which is extremely lovely. It is extra special because it is made from blocks of dried salt, and all the passageways are lined with salt granules to walk on. The views of the salt flats are exceptional, and there are picture windows everywhere to make sure you enjoy it from every angle. Last night there were huge log burners lit all around the building, giving it a warm cosy glow.
We had thought that we would be crossing into Chile after leaving here, but we’ve had to change our plans. The road to the border with Chile is 230km of dirt road. Yesterday we rode the 5km of dirt up to the hotel, and were told the road would be the same as this. Just riding that short way shook a couple of bolts for the sidecar loose, so this is most definitely not a road we should be using. Instead we shall head straight to Argentina, and start making our way South towards the bottom.