Note: This is a condensed version of the pictures I took with some added narrative. The rest of the pics can be viewed in the album Trip 2013 - La Paz to Mercedes. Each picture can be clicked to see a larger version and comment / like.
We left our tour group in La Paz and continued on our own for the next week, time was tight as we had to be in Buenos Aires in just a few days to meet final tour group. I knew that no trip to South America is complete without a visit to the salt flats of Uyuni, Bolivia so we crowbared in a 3 day excursion into our schedule.
The first day we visited the famous salt flats along with a train graveyard just outside of the dusty desert town.
The salt flats were an incredible place. We had previously visited a salt farming company waaay back in Mexico some 6 months ago so I thought I knew what to expect, however I wasnt prepared for the sheer vastness of the salt plain.
Another fact I didnt know was that just a few feet beneath the surface is a huge salt lake which is the cause of the salt plain above
I attempted to excavate a souvenir from the lake but ended up cutting all my arm on the sharp crystal.
As almost fascinating as the salt plain was the the skittles miracle.. I had the most incredible luck, not 1 not 2 not even 4 but 5 orange skittles came out at the same time!
That evening we stayed at a nice little ranch style hostel just outside of the salt plains
We were up early the next morning and back in the cramped 4x4 for another day of Bolivian marvels of nature
We spent the evening in one of the ahem "best" accommodations I have ever experienced. Just look at the attention to detail with the decoration:
Also its hard to complain when the room comes with free peanuts in the wall:
Well thankfully we got a good nights sleep as we were due to leave at 5 the next morning. After seeing the other 4x4's leave one by one however we started to wonder where our driver was. Turns out he needed some more beauty sleep so I had to wake him up with some loud cries of "Vamos!" (lets go), grumbling he finally awoke and we were on our way.
First up that cold morning was some thermal vents:
Next warmed ourselves up in a hot spring bath
Then it was a long, bumpy and dusty 8 hour drive back to Uyuni. We stopped a number of times at scenic places to take pictures
All in all it was an interesting and incredible experience but not the most comfortable. Fortunately next up was the beautiful and comfortable city of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities I have visited on this trip (at least on the days we were there), the combination of the large number of blossoming purple trees, verdant green parks and old architecture made me fall in love with the place.
Just before joining up with our fourth and final tour group we met up with the parents of my good friend and "german sister" Tina who just happened to be in Buenos Aires at the same time
That evening we met our new tour group, another GAdventures tour of 16 people that over the next 17 days would take us from BA through Uraguay and the Iguazu falls to Rio in Brazil.
We kicked things off by taking a tour around some of the districts in Buenos Aires stopping off for lunch at a typical Argentinian BBQ place
On the way back we visited the famous artistic flea market of San Telmo
The following day we took the ferry across into Uraguay and the incredibly picturesque town of Colonia
We were there for just one night before we were forced to move on, it really was a beautiful little town though and totally not what I expected from Uraguay
After Colonia we spent a night in the capital of Uraguay, Montevideo. We didnt do a whole lot there other than a visit to a cultural centre where we saw some kids play some traditional Candombe music
Then it was onto one of the highlights for me, a two night stay at a ranch out in the Uraguayan countryside
I really enjoyed my time there with all the animals
We had beautiful hot days that turned into yet more beautiful evenings
We didnt do a whole lot on our 3 days there, mostly resting and relaxing and enjoying the natural beauty
One thing we did however is gather wood and have a big bonfire on the last night. Dinner of T-Bone steak with red wine and bonfire with friends is my idea of heaven, all that was needed to make it perfect was a kitten..