Unfortunately Jordan had started to feel achy and sick during the middle of the night so didn’t get too much sleep and wasn’t feeling too great that morning. Quickly we packed up our things and meandered out to the main room for a yummy pancake breakfast.
Hot Springs + Flamingo Salt Flat Sunrise
While the cars were being loaded mom and I wandered down to the hot springs to check out what they looked like in the morning light, we didn’t get the best view of them in the dark the night before. It was STUNNING!
A beautiful small rock enclosed pool that looked out on an enormous lagoon filled with the Andean geese and a flamingo. The flamingo was quite close and it was the first time that we had been near one during the trip, usually they flew away before we unloaded from the car. With the rising sun reflecting off the water, the steam coming up from the hot springs, and the silhouette of the flamingo; it was a truly spectacular sight. We followed the bizarre bird (they truly are alien looking creatures AND they live in an environment that almost no animals can live in) until he was a bit further out in the lake. A memorable morning to say the absolute least.
Jenny, our new Irish friend joined our car for the morning ride, Oscar riding in the other 4×4 trying to lighten the sour mood of the car. Francisco started playing reggaeton, classic rock and an assortment of ridiculous music videos on the little screen on the dashboard, which up until that moment we had no idea played music videos! We jammed, racing through the desert, enjoying a fun morning.
Salvador Dahli Desert
The painter Salvador Dali has a painting of clocks melting off rocks in the desert; our first stop was a view of the desert that looked exactly like the setting of the painting. Hence it was named The Salvador Dali Desert.
Green Lake + Goodbyes
Next and final stop of the trip was a viewpoint of the Green Lake and the enormous Volcano Licacanbur. This green lake was colored due to toxic copper levels and to find a lake with this toxicity is extremely rare on our world. According to Oscar some years back NASA was doing testing here, as they believed that this was the kind of bodies of water they may find on planets such as Mars. Like the Red Lake, wind and water circulation help bring the color to the top of the lake and because we were so early in the day the lake did not look very green. However it was still a beautiful view with the large volcano in the background.
This was a bittersweet stop because about three-quarters of our group was continuing on with the tour to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile (click here to read about the amazing wonders in San Pedro!) and the rest of us were heading all the way back to Uyuni. Brandon and our Irish friends were part of the group heading into Chile so we said our goodbyes and loaded up into our 4×4 with Oscar and Francisco and retraced our path back to our previous night lodging.
Retracing to Uyuni
Francisco and Oscar took their time before getting back on the road; later I learned to give more time for the cars that were traveling to and from the Chilean border to catch us. I found a cute little puppy to play with and watched other tour groups reach the hot springs and take a quick dip before continuing. It made me extremely grateful for our tour and time-unlimited hot spring escapades under the stars the night before.
Eventually we were back on the road. We danced and laughed at Francisco’s music videos, drove by another herd of llamas, and Oscar pointed out the flats from where the majority of the borax was being mined. We stopped for lunch, laid in the sun, and kept on keeping on.
Petrified Lava Fields
Before exiting the national park we unloaded in another ‘petrified lava’ field. Full of enormous interesting rocks; the most famous looking like Homer Simpson (South Americans are OBSESSED with the Simpsons!). We found some fun rocks with crazy ledges and holes and obviously took a ton of pictures.
Our final stop before re-entering Uyuni was the mining town of San Cristobal. It was by the far the biggest community we had seen since leaving Uyuni. There was a small market set up and quickly everyone bought some ice cream to enjoy in the hot sun. The most interesting point of San Cristobal was the silver mine, which to this day is the third largest producer of silver in the world. Along with silver; zinc and lead are mined there as well.
Many years ago the community actually sat on top of where the mine was today, however upon discovery of the highly valued minerals they moved the town. There was a beautiful ancient church in the location of the old town, upon moving the community they dismantled the church and rebuilt it using many of the same stones in the new location. It was a beautiful church and I would have loved a chance to go inside.
Final Thoughts on Red Planet Expeditions
Back on the road we enjoyed our final moments with Oscar and Francisco, truly a better guide and driver than we could have ever hoped for.
I highly recommend Red Planet Tours of the Salt Flats of Bolivia. We had a FABULOUS experience and it was thanks to the wonderful staff and thoughtfulness of the company. A huge perk to consider as well is the nighttime star-gazing experience at the hot springs that only Red Planet facilitates.
We finished up our time in Uyuni by grabbing some food in a cute small restaurant and then headed to the airport to return to La Paz. The following morning we flew to Buenos Aires to enjoy the second half of our marvelous trip and to give me a chance to show my family my new home.