From Salta, Argentina we returned into Chile to the desert town of San Pedro de Atacama. San Pedro de Atacama, a town at about 2,700m above sea level, is a very dry and mild place! It is one of the world’s largest and driest deserts and during the day it is very hot whilst at night it is freezing.
San Pedro de Atacama
We spent a few fantastic days here. One day we went on a tour of “Valle de la Luna” and saw some amazing salt caves - the scenery was spectacular. The sunset was gorgeous, so you need to check out our pictures to really appreciate the beauty of this scenery as words cannot quite describe it!
We also swam in a salt lake. It is like being in the Dead Sea, you float without having to do anything! It was so much fun! When we got out we were covered in a layer of salt!
From the salt lake we went and watched one of the nicest sunsets I have ever seen! The sun was setting and the moon was out, check out pictures again to see this gorgeous sunset!
After some 5 days of fabulous tours and just walking around this small dessert “pueblo” (it was like a set out of a John Wayne or Clint Eastwood movie) we were booked on the world famous Salt Flats tour from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile to Uyuni, Bolivia.
We drove from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile for an hour in a mini bus with 12 other tourists until we reached the border of Bolivia in the middle of nowhere (check out the picture of Migracion Bolivia in our photographs). From the border, after getting an entry stamp into Bolivia (Andy sure glad you and Abby did not have to go back to San Pedro and the 20 BOB got you into the country with your temporary passport!), we continued on our way in two 4x4 jeeps.
For the next 3 days we spent most of our time with Abby, Andy, Tamzin and Jon who were all from the UK! We all got along so well and had some great chats and laughs in our jeep. In the other jeep that was on the same tour as us were 6 other travelers. Sophie, Charlie, Jack and Austin were from the UK and there was a couple from Italy and Bolivia. It was a fabulous group and we had some great chats, laughs and card games. I will not forget that fairies do exist (thanks Austin)! What a laugh! On our 3-day tour across the desert we saw such spectacularly diverse scenery! We saw volcanic geysers, loads of flamingos, lakes, and mountains, just magnificent! The first night we slept at 4660m, no wonder we were feeling a little light headed and quizzy! The coca leaves helped but our heads were still banging! Luckily after the first day and night we gradually went down in altitude as being at over 4000m was rather tough first up (and not good for you)! The second night was much better as we were at about 2600m. For two days we crossed the desert in Bolivia and on day three we made it to the largest salt flat in the world, Salar de Uyuni. It looked like snow and just seemed to go on forever and ever! We took a lot of great pictures at the salt flats, check out our picture section!
What a fabulous tour and thanks must go to the UK (and Italian / Bolivian) crew with us. It was so great to meet you all and hang out! In fact we were like one big happy family by the end of the tour and 7 out of the 12 of us ending up taking a bus from Uyuni to Sucre after the tour ended. We got to the town of Uyuni at about 3pm the day our tour ended and as there was not much to do in Uyuni other than do the same tour we were just on the other way around, we decided to take the first bus out to Sucre. It ended up being 7 of us with the same idea. We had a few hours to kill in Uyuni so hung out, checked emails and sorted out bus tickets.
We had one last dinner together (minus Austin and the couple) before going our own ways.
The bus ride from Uyuni to Sucre was not long, about an 8-hour bus ride but oh boy was it ever bumpy! We were in serious need of a massage and a chiropractic adjustment after such a jerky ride! We got into Sucre at about 4am and checked into a hostel with the rest of the crew and went straight to bed. We arrived in Sucre on 9 May and ended up staying until 13 June!!! Sucre became our new home! Other than being in Australia at Christmas/New Year time this is the longest we have been anywhere on our world tour! Sucre is such a fantastic city – the world famous UNESCO city in Bolivia that is known as the white city! We love it here!
We have also stayed there that long as we took Spanish classes for 5 weeks. We had 4 hours of lessons per day in the morning and one week Dean started taking 6 hours although it was a lot considering homework was about 2 hours on top of this! We had a great routine and it was nice to be using our brains again! We did a home stay with a lovely Bolivian couple, Lillian and Julio. We had breakfast all together in the morning before we left for school at 8:00am. We had classes until 12:30pm and then would come back to their home for lunch. Lunch is the main meal of the day here in Bolivia so we had an amazing home cooked meal every day for lunch! The food was always so delicious and we loved the Bolivian food! So much more spice and taste than in the rest of South America so far. The afternoons are spent studying either at the mirador (an awesome café with a view of the city), at the park or at the home where we are staying! We have been studying lots and I think that my grammatical Spanish has improved lots and Dean is doing SO well and is now understanding and speaking so much more!
While in Sucre we have also visited the pueblo of Tarabuco with Andy and Abby our friends from our jeep tour. Tarabuco is a small village about 1 hour from Sucre. Sundays are especially nice to visit this market town as there are many street vendors selling all sorts of things! Very colourful and enlightening experience.
It was so nice to hang out with Andy and Abby while they were in Sucre! We miss you lots! Other that visiting the village market in Tarabuco, we have walked around most Sucre visiting all the markets, took a bus to “El Castillo La Glorietta” and finally definitely worth a mention, we visited the El Cementario in Sucre. Definitely the most stunning cemetery we have ever seen. It is a bit like Recoleta in BA…all the coffins are stacked on top of each other and maintained perfectly as families visit and clean them often. If you are from a wealthy standing family then you get a small house built which is a shrine like tribute to your life (check out the photographs under Sucre on our website).
We have loved getting to know Sucre so well and felt right at home there! It was sad to leave and when we left our host Lillian cried (so did we) and also their beautiful purebred Golden Retriever called Kira was definitely very sad as well (Dean used to play with her every day after breakfast and lunch)!
After 5 weeks in Sucre we were on the road again… next stop Cochabamba (the cocaine, I mean coca capital del mundo haha lol).