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The 3rd and last day of our Uyuni Atacama excursion. It was impossible for us to believe that this would be the best part of our world trip so far.
We visited many amazing and historical places in Peru, went to Machu Picchu (or went back, in my case) and stayed at great hotels, but our expectations for Uyuni were far lower than what turned out to be the reality. Maybe this was because we were anxious to see the Salar de Uyuni, but weren’t so interested in what else this trip could offer us.
Bolivia was much more than the Salar. This Uyuni-Atacama excursion has given us beautiful landscapes, multi-colored lakes, countless volcanoes and much more.
And now we can say with total certainty that a trip from Uyuni to Atacama should be on the itinerary for any visitor coming to Bolivia or South America.
Another thing we were very concerned about was how our child would be during the trip. We were about to travel along bumpy roads, spend hours inside a jeep with other people we barely knew, ascend to high altitudes (we reached almost 5000m above sea level), and encounter so many other factors that a parent could say: “forget it, this is not for families with small children”.
It is in fact the opposite. If you are creative enough, your children will probably adapt to all of that better than the parents themselves. I felt the altitude a bit and had a headache a couple of times, while Noah adapted to the situation like a champ!
Of course I would not expect him to walk all the time during this Uyuni Atacama excursion and enjoy every little bit of the trip. Sometimes Ruth or I had to stay in the car with him while he was sleeping, and more than once I had to carry him over my shoulders. But none of that disrupted what turned out to be the best experiences on our Tour du Monde so far. Parents might be surprised how well children adapt to changes and different environments. We are living proof of that. So again, if you, as parents, are still thinking about whether a 3-day journey through the desert wilderness, packed into a jeep, might be bad for your children, just go for it. You might be surprised.
But of course, don’t forget to bring a few things for your children to play with. This is a MUST. They can adapt, but they are not all angels 🙂 🙂 We brought some cards and small toys, and even sang some songs. We were also lucky that there were 4 other tourists who we got along really well with and the driver was great with everyone all the time, patiently explaining about the various sights and being flexible on timings for us.
Well, back to our route. Our day started at 4:30 with breakfast in a cold area in the middle of the desert. The house we stayed at was very humble, and we shared our room with our fellow travellers from the jeep but we were so tired that we all slept very well. Simon from Canada and I slept later, as we were taking some nice shots of the impressive starry skies (he stayed out even longer, while I went to sleep feeling very cold).
After the 30-minute breakfast we packed into the jeep again and hit the road. We had not got long before sunrise, and the first stop was to see some volcanic geysers in a place called Sol de Mañana. The vapor coming out of the ground was amazing, and soon we got to see the sun coming up from the behind the mountains. Noah stayed in the car with me as he was sleeping, and I appreciated the view out of the window. Ruth went around every hole to take some shots while I recorded this moment and the impressive views.
After this unique experience, we continued on our tour and went to the place that Noah probably enjoyed the most: the thermal waters. It was still very cold because of the early morning, but the natural pool was very warm (over 30°C). I just enjoyed it from a distance, as I had a bit of a headache and the change of temperature probably would’ve killed me.
After the waters, our last stop before crossing the border was the Laguna Verde (green lagoon). This was the stop Ruth was really looking forward to, but to her disappointment the Laguna Verde was not verde. It seems that there are two mandatory factors that make the lagoon to have a deep green color: the wind and the weather. Neither of those was favorable for the phenomenon, and thus the color of the lagoon that day was a bit bold. This is also a very toxic place, as the lagoon has a mixture of of arsenic, borax and copper, among other minerals. This particular place is therefore to be seen and photographed from afar.
Laguna Verde was our last stop of our Uyuni Atacama excursion before going to the border with Chile and Mario, our driver, did his utmost so we would enjoy every little bit of the places we visited over those 3 days.
Very close to the border, and more specifically at 9:30am, we had to check out of Bolivia at the aduana and change cars, so that we were in a big van with 15 seats that would drive us about 45 minutes to the center of San Pedro de Atacama. At the Bolivian border everything was very easy, and the moody officer just stamped our passports. But before that we waved goodbye to our friend Simon, from Canada, as he was heading back to Uyuni with Mario. Christian, Gloria and Magdalena joined us for to the trip to San Pedro de Atacama.
Driving for about 40-45 minutes more, we were able to appreciate the landscapes and the desert environment a bit more, as well as the rocks made of volcanic lava and the “waves” shaped by the wind in the region.
In Atacama we had to get off the van again, go through police control (they were very friendly officers, we must say), collect our stamps and check in papers, and later put all of our belongings through the x-ray machine.
We put our luggage and backpacks back in the big van and the driver drove us about 2km further to the center of San Pedro de Atacama – our home for the next 2 nights, before we fly to Santiago.
This was it for some of the most memorable experiences on our world trip – our Uyuni Atacama excursion, and also our visit to amazing Bolivia. Thanks to the friendly people who have welcomed us so well – just as the people from Peru welcomed us to their country – and we certainly carry all the love we’ve been shown in our hearts.
Muchas gracias Bolivia and Bolivians and next stop, San Pedro de Atacama and Santiago de Chile!
Did you miss the first two posts of our Uyuni Atacama excursion? So, check them out: