On 29th January, we left Argentina by bus to spend a few days in Atacama desert. But our main goal was to meet with our friend Sarah, from Australia. After months talking about our trip, here we are! It’s such a nice feeling to be able to give her a hug and we celebrated it in a delicious Peruvian restaurant.
The following day, we rented a car to be able to visit autonomously the desert but we understood quickly that all the roads were closed due to bad weather. We could only visit the Pucara de Quitor, an old fortress.
We stayed 3 days stuck in Atacama where the water was going higher and higher. We learned later that 50 families lost everything with the flood. The city was on yellow alert. The government has even asked tourists to evacuate the town by sending 7 buses.
We booked our excursion to Uyuni in Bolivia for the next day. Borders were closing and opening depending on the weather, but our tour was still on. We hoped the rain would not affect it too much.
After getting our stamp on our passport at the Bolivian border, we got into our Jeep with our driver Ronald and 3 other travellers. Let’s go!
We stopped at the Laguna Blanca and Verde, where the colours are due to salt and minerals in it. We could even see blue sky when enjoying those first beautiful landscapes.
After a short stop at Salvador Dali desert, we reached thermal waters. We didn’t swim because we had to pay and it was pretty crowded within a small space. In the afternoon, we reached the highest place of our 3-day trip at 4900 m high. It is where a geyser is located. The stop was really short because it started to snow! The last stop was at the Laguna Colorada, a red lake due to plant pigmentation. Usually, we can see here 3 types of flamingos. But it was snowing so much, so we had to leave, very disappointed.
It snowed all night long, everything was white! The weather is still bad but we could see more than 10 metres away so we asked our guide to go back to the Laguna Coloroda. We walked along the lake and observed flamingos. We also met lamas that didn't seem to be cold (unlike us). We hit the road again and stopped in the middle of nowhere to play in the snow, like kids! Édouard built his first snowman!
After a good lunch, we stopped in several places to see great landscapes with impressive rocks. It rained all day, unsealed roads were getting very bad so the driver wanted to leave quickly. In fact, we had to cross a river and the level of the water was increasing hour by hour.
There we were, in front of this river and all of us hold their breath. We successfully crossed it. But a few meters away, the rain has formed a new one. Just after crossing, the motor stopped and we couldn't move anymore. Our great driver took some toilet paper to dry the electronic materials and the car worked again, unexpected! In front of a 3rd river much larger, the driver asked us some plastic bags to protect the electronic. It is unbelievable but it worked and we drove again. This night, we learned that one of the 3 other cars from the same agency was broken and then were stuck in rivers. They couldn’t find a place to sleep to stay safe so they had to keep driving despite the risks. At 10pm, they didn’t arrive yet and we went to bed worried for them, the rain was stronger and the snow was melting.
After waking up, we finally heard the story of our fellows arrived very late at night. Their day was a nightmare. Actually, we were the only ones to have asked our driver to go back to Laguna Colorada. Later, we understood that we took a different path than the 3 other cars. What a luck! This time, we took the road the 4 cars together on the road to Uyuni. Unfortunately, it rained all night long and our guides were worried about the road. After a few kilometres and a lot of rivers crossed, the road was blocked. A truck and a bus were stuck in a stream of water 1 meter deep. The truck's front was completely destroyed, and we understood that they were there for 3 hours already. We tried to go through the mud, but one of the 4 cars got stuck. We stayed there for about an hour and eventually left. The road is flooded everywhere, and we feel like we were crossing lakes with cascades. But the rain finally calmed down and we all hoped to see the salar. Miracle! It stopped raining when we got to the salar and we could even see some blue sky. We spent 2 hours having fun with the reflection by doing pauses. This trip is finishing very well.
The last 3 days were completely crazy, in all means. Our guide told us that he has never seen as much rain here before. But our group was amazing and we felt so many different emotions: worried, afraid and also lots of fun. We will remember this tour forever!