Our minibus was due to pick us up at 8am on day one, however at 8:15am we were still standing outside our hotel and our hearts started to drop at the thought that we should have really picked a more expensive tour operator to ensure we actually got picked up. Luckily at 8:20am our minibus pulled round the corner. Result.
We first drove 5 minutes to the Chilean immigration point which only took around 10 minutes to get through, then we drove about 50 minutes further to the Bolivian immigration point which again only took around 10 minutes to clear.
We were then greeted by our tour leader – Tin Tin, a middle aged Chilean man who had been leading tour groups around the salt flats for 10 years. We were in good hands.
We had a lovely breakfast – ham, cheese, bread rolls, pate and coca tea before jumping in the jeep and heading to our first stop (shortly stopping at the edge of the National Park to pay our 150 Bolivianos).
Our fellow tour buddies were an English couple – Josh and Olivia, and two German friends, Hans and Tim.
We seemed to visit lagoon after lagoon, each a different colour.
We were shocked with how many people were in the springs – which was actually only one small pool. As we were lagging behind the other tour groups every disappeared after 5 minutes and left us with the whole spring to ourselves!
After stopping at the Geysers we headed to our hostel for lunch – fried sausages, mash potato, cucumbers and tomatoes, and a 2L bottle of coke to share. After lunch we headed to the last lagoon of the day!
Red lagoon with flamingos
After visiting the red lagoon we returned to the hostel for tea and biscuits, then dinner was served – vegetable soup to start , spaghetti for main, and tinned peaches for dessert.
Our hostel for the night was basic – toilets, sinks with cold water but no shower. It was perfectly adequate. Our room had 6 beds which we shared with the rest of the group and we were given plenty of blankets to keep us warm throughout the night.
We had a great start to the second day – we were given pancakes for breakfast, served with butter, marmalade, and dulche de leche (toffee condensed milk). We then loaded our stuff in the jeep and headed to our first sight of the day…
Between all the highland lagoons we managed to squeeze in some lunch – tuna, sweetcorn, rice and salad (and a 2L bottle of coke to share).
I loved the place where we stayed on the second night – a llama farm! There were lots of llamas roaming around outside which I couldn’t help take lots of photos of! The hostel was very new – they hadn’t yet plastered some of the walls, or installed our hot shower that we were promised! Although lack of shower was made up by the fact that we were given our own private room.
Dinner was served and we had chicken and chips – and even a bottle of Bolivian red wine. Delicious.
We rose very early this morning (5.45am) for breakfast at 6am – unfortunately there wasn’t any electricity in the morning, therefore we were fumbling around packing our rucksacks with our pathetic head torches. Fail.
Admittedly, breakfast wasn’t as great as on the second day, we were served bread, cake, cereal, yoghurt, tea and coffee.
After breakfast we drove for 3 hours before we got to our first stop…
Railway and train cemetery
Uyuni salt flats
Whilst at the salt flats we had our lunch – chicken snitzel, pasta, carrots, peas, potatoes and a bottle of coke.
I loved every minute of this tour and would definitely recommend our tour operator – Atacama Mistica. You can read more about our choice of tour operator here.