Our three day salt flat tour, led by our new Bolvian friend Yollando (flat cap, blonde mohican, various sportswear branded with La Paz’s top football team, ‘The Strongest’) firmly placed Bolivia one of the countries with the most breathtaking and diverse landscapes I’ve yet to experience.
Aside from Yollando’s extremely eclectic music choices, the tour was packed with all the obligatory salty Bolivian experiences; taking the perspective photos on the flats, buying an alpaca jumper from a shop made out of salt, visiting the salt factory and staying in a salt hotel.
The multiple salt flats photos I’ve been bombarded with in the past do nothing to prepare you for how surreal it is to be surrounded by 200km of nothing but flat, hard, quite cold, salt. Lollanado’s choice of audio accompaniment when speeding out into the white abyss was Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
A word about the flamingo. So there are three types; the Chilean, the Andean and the Jame’s (which Mo and I had the luxury of studying on a poster at the border crossing whilst we waited for our Japanese friends to realise they had no bolivianos). They vary in markings and tend to stick together, but what they all have in common is their diet of little bugs containing beta carotene – which helps things go pink. Apparently, the flamingos are paler pink this year as there are fewer of these bugs about to help them go all rosey. Blew my mind.
On the last night, we stayed in a salt hotel next to some hot springs, in which we floated for the evening under a cloudless and starfilled sky. With beers. And Lollando knocked back a bottle of something which he called rum but smelt like paintstripper, needless to say, the following day’s driving was a little sketchy.