I don’t recall how it happened exactly, but after entering Bolivia via Tupiza we joined forces with a group of Argentinians, there was 8 of them which made us into a 10. Argentinians love Bolivia as it is so cheap, they also attract each other like paperclips to a magnet. They were all separate friends and couples who’d joined together and only one of the girls openly hated us so that wasn’t too bad.
Steph made friends with Diego, the leader of the pack and he invited us to join the truck they’d hired in a bid to cut the cost, of course, we accepted. The roads in Bolivia are terrible, high and windy. A seismologist we met later said his helicopter was hired to recover the bodies after a bus went over a cliff. Being in a large group meant that we had distractions and Diego would get his drums out if it all got a bit hairy (not a euphemism).
Not to stereotype but Argentinians do love drums. My worst Bolivian bus experience during this time was being on my period and not getting the chance to visit a toilet in 11 hours. Uncomfortable.
We arrived at Uyuni late and sat on a street corner while the Argentinians bartered over rooms all over the town. We ate salchipapas (chips and sausage) whilst we waited, and waited. They got us a nice and cheap room which made us question ourselves – ‘is this how cheap we could be getting things?’. We were spectacularly bad at bartering. They then booked the tour for us and we were all set to go to the salt flats – one of the most famous attractions in Bolivia. Famous due to the fact that they are the world’s largest salt flats.
Salar de Uyuni is magnificent and we were glad to finally see it. We took the obligatory photos playing with the perspective that all tourists to South America walk away with. You know the ones where you hold your travel partner in your hand or bring a dinosaur and cower beneath it. If you want to go big then you got to bring props, our pictures were very vanilla.
We only visited for one day as we were with the Argentinians but you can go for longer, I’ve heard people get sick from the altitude but it is a pretty amazing place. Northern Chile and Southern Bolivia have such incredibly trippy moonlike landscapes, it is a photographer’s paradise.
We visited a hotel made from salt – of course! You can also purchase all manner of salty sculptures. I bought an owl for my nan but they do disintegrate over time and now it has to live in a glass jar!
Despite their ludicrous bartering, we stayed with the Argentinians and continued travelling with them to Potosi, the land of the silver mine. You had to hand it to them that they always got us a good deal and a good bargaining session cannot be rushed.