I sped out of Cusco on a wildly fast route south. I was in a hurry, trying to catch the new moon at the salt flats in Uyuni. Overnight bus to Puno, across the boarder and into to La Paz before another overnight bus to Uyuni and then onwards to the salt flats and the surrounding desert.
I linked up with a wonderful group, the five of them consisting of representatives from France, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Peru. Together we headed out to Bolivia’s most famous tourist destination: Las Salineras de Uyuni. An ancient sea turned to dust, depositing its salts across a vast expanse.
The experience was as unbelievable as the photos you've undoubtable seen; endless, crystalline, eye-bleaching whiteness of salt, and equally endless blue sky above. Reaching down I pluck off a small piece and pop it in for a try… super salty salt, the saltiest of salt. Raw, unfiltered, full of lithium – think batteries and antidepressants.
We spent hours wandering around this expansiveness by 4x4 and on foot. The Frenchman turns to me and says, “Whoa, this is as close to being on another planet as I will ever get to be.” The smile on his face stretching from ear to ear, and you bet an interesting conversation of all things space and the interstellar followed.
We watched sunset on the flats as the temperature began to drop, easily dipping below -10c. A chilly night but yet again we ventured out to view the stars. In a place so isolated and in timing it with the new moon I was hoping for one grand celestial vision.
The next couple days took us through various landscapes that are best described as arcane terrains; snowscapes, desertscapes, thermalscapes, waterscapes, rockscapes, falsescapes of borax, flamingos and red water lakes. Of others and all things relating to the bizarre.
Somewhere along the way the Frenchman returned with his grin and said, “It’s like everyday we are on a different planet.” Which would later be revised once more to every hour - different planets indeed.