A Travellerspoint blog

The Journey from Hell

So after over a week in the lovely beach town of Iquique it was time to move on. We wanted to go back to Bolivia as it was much cheaper and there were a couple of places we missed out so Oruro it was! We got the bus on Sunday night with 2 guys from Denmark and it was meant to be 12 hours. We boarded the bus at 8.30pm and off we went! The first few hours were fine and just a standard south american bus journey. They played an awful spanish film really loud with english subtitles, people hopped on and off the bus trying to sell bread and things and then the lights went off. Standard! I fell asleep for a couple of hours and woke up when the bus came to a standstill at 1am. At first we thought it was just a pit stop for the drivers but then we realised that we were at the border crossing for Bolivia and it didn't open until 9am!!! You think that's alright like no biggie we can just fall asleep until then but no. It was the coldest place in the world. The 4 of us travelling were actually shivering and had not come prepared unlike everyone else on the bus with there huge blankets and layers. One of the danish guys didn't even have socks! The drivers had left the bus making sure the door was open incase anyone needed the toilet or anything as the one on the bus was out of order. We were in the first 4 seats right where the open door was. Even better! There was actual ice on the inside of the windows and it was impossible to sleep! I'm not 100% on the temperature but it definitley wasn't leggings and jumper weather. We needed a full blown snow suit! When the sun finally came up at about 7am we noticed a couple of snowcapped mountains nearby. We finally got through the border, 2 more stamps in the passport and at half 9 we continued on our journey. We arrived in Oruro at half past one so we had been on that bus for 17 hours. Pretty frustrating that it could have been 8 hours shorter if we'd gone at a time the border crossing had been open. Oruro was just another town really. Lots of markets, lots of taxis beeping there horns and a couple nice places to eat. It's awesome being back to bolivian prices. I feel like i can buy everything! We only stayed there one night and are continuing on our journey to Tupiza with the Danish guys. Its an 11 hour journey but can't be as bad as the last! This time we've come prepared with sleeping bags, loads of layers and ski socks. I almost hope we break down in the middle of no where again!

Posted by amcara91 07:33 Archived in Chile Tagged busses cold nightmare Comments (0)

Waves, Sun and a spot of Paragliding!

Iquique

We are currently in Iquique of northern Chile and it is lovely here. Like a little cool surfing place. We've been here for maybe just under a week and its the perfect place to just chill out. A couple of beach days and a morning of body boarding which was ace! The waves were huuuuge and it was pretty scary at times. It was on a grey day so it felt like we were back in the UK!

  Yesterday I went paragliding and it was the best experience of my life but also pretty terrifying! Me and the instructor had to run off the side of the hill and the parachute lifted us up and we were flying with the vultures! It was so cool and the view was amazing. It was really interesting too. The instructors like to follow the vultures as that shows where the thermals are that let us gain altitude. At the beginning the guy said you don't want to ever see a vulture flapping is wings as that means the conditions are really bad. So I was flying through the air, loving life when suddenly my instructor starts swearing loads! Like 'oh sh*t, f#ck, f×ck, f?!k, f$ck, f#ck' I'm starting to get a little worried.. The reason he was swearing was because we had lost a lot of height and there weren't many thermals to lift us up. We then saw a couple of vultures flapping there wings! That stressed him out even more which stressed me out even more! We were so close to this massive sand dune that he had to do such tight circles so we didn't crash into it. Obviously he has been paragliding for years and he knew what he was doing he just made me very nervous about it. We were up there for ages until finally we found a thermal and got loads of altitude and managed to fly over the city to the beach for our landing. The flight was meant to be a 20 minute experience but I was up there for 56 minutes!! Apparently I was really lucky and that will never happen again. They're right about that! I was happy to have my feet back on the ground but it was an incredible experience.  

paragliding

paragliding

jumping

jumping

flying

flying

We're trying to decide whether or not to stay another night. Its the sort of place that you can stay at forever but its just a bit over our budget. We're even thinking of going back to Bolivia as it is so much cheaper. We will see though! Anyways Will is cooking up a storm in the kitchen so I better go give him a hand!  

cooking tea

cooking tea

Posted by amcara91 13:24 Archived in Chile Tagged cooking paragliding bodysurfing Comments (0)

The Salt Flat Tour

Salar de Uyuni

In Uyuni there were so many tour companies to do the salt flat tour with. Someone told us there were 60 and Uyuni is tiny! It was really hard to decide who to go with but eventually we made a decision to go with a company called Cristal as there were loads of travellers booked with them. We set off at 11am on Wednesday and our first stop was about 20 mins down the road at a train cemetry. It was place that just had loads of rusty, old trains that you could climb on and take photos etc. It was in such a beautiful setting as well in the middle of the desert. Unfortunatley I only got photos on my camera and not on my tablet though. Our next stop was our first of the salt flats! It was incredible! We were there for about 15 mins taking photos and trying to be creative with the camera! The setting was once again amazing.Its the biggest salt flats in the world so everywhere you look is just salt flat! It was so blinding as the sun reflected off the salt and me, Will and a couple people in our group got pretty badly sunburnt! My nose still hasnt recovered!

salt flats!

salt flats!

salt flat jumps

salt flat jumps

We stopped off in the salt flats about 3 more times. We had really run out of ideas for photos after our first stop but every now and then we'd think of something new with our group.

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Our last stop of the day was watching the sun set there and it was the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. The whole area went a tinge of orange as it was setting and then pink once it had set. As soon as the sun went down it turned freezing immediately it was unreal!

sunset

sunset

sun has set

sun has set

That night we stayed in a salt hotel.. everything was made of salt and I mean everything! The floor, the walls, the beds, the chairs.. everything! It was really cool and we got a good night sleep there once we had nursed our sunburn!

the salt hotel!

the salt hotel!

Day 2 was a bit of a disappointment really. We spent most of the day in the jeep and every now and then we would stop to look at a lagoon or something. Although we did see some flamingoes and an active volcano that seperates Chile and Bolivia which was pretty cool and we stopped off at a railway track that takes you from Bolivia to Chile. Sometimes we didn't really know why we stopped haha. That night we stayed in a little hostel next to a lagoon. It was so so cold but the stars were absolutely beautiful. There were so many it was lovely! If it hadn't been so cold you could have star gazed for hours! The next morning we were getting up at 4.30 and leaving at 5am so it was an early night for us!

a lagoon

a lagoon

train tracks to Chile!

train tracks to Chile!

So we set off nice and early to see the sunrise at the most amazing spot! There were natural mud pools bubbling away letting off heaps of smoke! I had never seen anything like this before! With the sun rising in the background it was so beautiful but also rediculously cold. We had 2 girls from australia and a couple from brazil in our group and I felt sorry for them! Qt leats being from the UK we're quite used to the cold!

sun rise

sun rise

will getting attacked by the smoke

will getting attacked by the smoke

After that fun we were put on a mini bus to San Pedro, Chile and here we are! A lovely little town with lots of stray dogs that seem to be looked after pretty well. Lots of little places to rent bikes so we think we'll get one of those tomorrow and cycle to a natural hot spring! Today we're going to have to find somewhere that's showing the arsenal game.. suprise suprise! Haha!

Posted by amcara91 04:37 Archived in Bolivia Tagged sunset sunrise saltflats Comments (0)

Mining tour in Potosi

We were sitting at 4060masl in Potosi. Even higher than La Paz! As we are used to the high altitude now we didnt really notice it to be honest, other than being out of breath after climbing a flight of stairs. Potosi is a small town and its hard to believe it used to be the richest place in the world.

We did the mining tour of silver and zinc, it was the scariest thing we´ve ever done. After putting on our protective gear we headed to Miners Market to buy the miners some presents. We settled for some 96% alcohol, they call it Bolivian whiskey and drink it for good luck, coca leaves, soda and cigarettes all for 2 pounds! Then we headed into the mines. We had our head torches for light and our guide made us turn them off at one point just to show us how dark it was down there. Pitch black! Most of the time we were walking along the main track but every now and then we went off it. We climbed a very rickety ladder and squeezed through a tiny hole and crawled on our hands and knees up a steep slope of rubble to a small opening where we had to drink of the ´Bolivian whiskey´ for good luck. It tasted like nail polish remover! It was during the crawling and squeezing through the small gap that i wondered whether i would ever make it out of the mine. Our guide asked us if we wanted to go down some more levels my immediate reaction was absolutely not but as I was on the tour with 2 guys, Will and one Swiss guy, we obviously had to do it. So we climbed down 6 ladders 30m deeper into the mine. It was interesting as we met loads of the miners who were very happy with their gifts. Apparantly when they are in the mines they worship the devil as they work so close to him and when they come out of the mines they are Catholics. We made our way into another small opening where they had some sort of devil statue which they worship. Our guides gave the statue a cigarette and we drank some more of that alcohol just for extra good luck. This time it was with soda so it wasn´t so bad. Before we drank it thought, we had to pour some onto the statue and say ´for you and for me´in the language they speak in the mines which i think was Kesham, or something like that! It was a great tour, really interesting and i would recommend it to everyone, unless you don´t like small spaces or the dark!

We arrived in Uyuni last night after a 5 hour bus journey and have just been chilling out today, having a last look around the Bolivian markets and shops ready to do our 3 day Salt Flat tour tommorrow, ending up in San Pedro, Chile.

mining tour!

mining tour!

Posted by amcara91 14:53 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Dinosaurs and Waterfalls

Sucre is a beautiful little town, way nicer than La Paz! Its very studenty with lots of nice bars and restaurants. The day we arrived the studens were protesting against the government about funds or something. The streets were crammed with students throwing fire crackers, chanting and starting fires in the middle of the streets. It was pretty crazy but apparently it happens a lot.

Yesterday we went to this awesome dinosaur museum. We didn't know until we arrived but Sucre has the longest dinosaur tracks in the world. We could only see them from about 200m away through binoculars but it was ace! They had these huuuge models of dinosaurs as well it was so cool! We were suprised at how good it was as Sucre is only a tiny town in Bolivia but definitley worth visiting.

dinosaur park

dinosaur park

dinosaur foot prints

dinosaur foot prints

huge dinosaur

huge dinosaur

We then went on a 4 hour trek to the 7 waterfalls. It was an interesting trek and probably not the nicest one we've done. At the beginning there was so much rubbish everywhere and loads of awful looking stray dogs. After about an hour though it got nicerand we were walking along the banks of a dried up river, surrounded by eucalyptus trees that smelt amazing. An australian guy who was on the tour with us said it was just like being in the australian outbacks. It was so hot and we both got some cracking tan lines. We had to basically rock climb to get to the waterfalls. It was so nice though.they were only small but you'd climb up one and find another waterfall and then climb up that one and find another and so on. It was so refreshing after our 4 hour trek in the boiling sun!

waterfall

waterfall

sunny waterfalls

sunny waterfalls

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We're going to head to Potosi in the morning to do a tour of the mines. We're both a little nervous about it as apparently we crawl through tiny tunnels in the mines and meet men who have been working in the mines since they were 14. It's , meant to be quite sad but worth doing and very interesting. Also Potosi used to be the richest place in the worl because of its mines. Crazy! Then we're heading to Uyuni to finally do the salt flats! Can't wait for them everyone tells us they are amazing!

We're currently watching the arsenal game while having our breakfast. Arsenal have just scored there second goal! Yay! The commentators do this ridiculous thing where they shout gooooooaaaaaal for about 10 minutes. Will always manages to find somewhere that are playing the arsenal game. It doesn't matter where in the world we are someone is always showing it suprisingly! An elderly canadian lady has just joined us! Its really funny as she's a huge arsenal fan and knows her stuff too! She's a very friendly, chatty lady! Poor Will who's just trying to watch the game haha!

fun on our trek

fun on our trek

Posted by amcara91 07:10 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

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