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PV021: Salar de Uyuni (part 2)

Posted by Arlo on Jun 27, 2012 under Postcard Valet, PV-Podcast, Travel, Videos

This video, of course, continues where our first Salar de Uyuni video left off.

With everything I’ve got on my to-do list while we’re living in Australia, I haven’t had as much time as I’d like for editing more travel videos. The biggest hurdle has been recording new voice-overs.  Oksana is usually off working for 40+ hours a week, so there’s not much time for us to collaborate on the next big show-and-tell.  I realized, however, that I had a set of voice-overs still on my hard drive — the ones we recorded last year during our Bolivian salt flat tour.  ‘Bout time I followed up with the second part of that fantastic tour…!

It wasn’t until I started editing that I realized how little footage I shot during day two and day three of that tour.  Lots of great photos, very little video.  I suspect it was because we didn’t have a reliable power source until the tour was over and I was worried about draining my batteries.  Made the edit a little harder to pull off, but thankfully, I was able to supplement it with extra photos (as well as some of Wendy and Dusty’s videos.)  I trust the beauty of the landscape still comes through.

Show Notes:

The following is a transcript of the above video for Google’s benefit (ignore it, watch the video instead!)

Postcard Valet
Travel Podcast
Episode 21 – Salar de Uyuni (part 2)

In comparison to being out on the Salar at sunset with a lightning storm coming in, the next two days of the tour were pretty tame in comparison, but any other time it would have been a fantastic experience of its own.

We went on a tour actually twice.  The first time we got really sick and had to bail out after the first day.  And then the second time we went a couple weeks later; we did the whole three-day tour.

It was a good thing that Arlo and Oksana didn’t come with us, because there were no bathrooms along the route – at all!

We are not tourists, we are travelers, and we like adventure.  We don’t like when everything is planned for us. We like to do what we want to do.

The driver or the guide tells you, “Well, get out of the car and just have a walk for ten minutes, take your pictures, then come back to the car.”  We drove like 50 kilometers, just stopped there, “Have a look at this wonderful rock!” or whatever, and just like, aw, fuck, I hate that.

Getting involved in a tour means that you don’t have liberty – you’re not independent to go where you want to go.  Do you want to spend like 2 or 3 hours in this place to do this stuff and you can’t – I mean, that’s what we thought about the tour!

For two days we drove through the high Bolivian deserts, through amazing scenery that you can’t see anywhere else.

And the road, different destinations…  ¿Cómo se dice?  ¿Paisajes?  Sí.  This is, “scenes.”

At times, I was dozing off in the back of the SUV and I’d wake up every five or ten minutes and look around and see a completely different landscape.

We couldn’t believe how different the landscape was.  It was like, sometimes you’re at a lake that’s red, sometimes you’re at a lake that’s green, sometimes you feel like you’re walking on the moon somewhere and then there’s flamingos.  It was the craziest trip I have ever done in my life.

We would be driving through an empty desert and then come across huge rock formations that seemed like they grew up out of the ground.

In the middle of the desert there are hundreds of giant rocks that were carved away by the wind and exposure.  Some looked like trees, some looked like mushrooms, and just let your imagination run and you can see pretty much any shape you like there.

Oh, and then at one point in the trip, we popped a tire in our SUV.  And we had to replace the tire and that was actually was quite interesting to start, but then got scary because the jack started to sink, along with the car, into the sand and our tour guide was quick to react and he grabbed the other tire and jammed it underneath the car to stop it from sinking all the way.  And he dug a hole and we filled it with rocks and put the jack back on top of the rocks and then dug another hole to actually get the tire out.  And then so he ended up changing the tire of the car under the ground with a hole dug out in order to get it working.  At the same time there was a giant storm coming behind us, so we were…

…That could have really been bad news.

That could have been bad news if our tour guide wasn’t so quick to react..

For me it was really nice because I saw, since like 1 or 2 years ago, the red lagoon in the best way.  Really really red, with lots of flamingos.  It was really good for them as well, because, you know, they are photographers.

We saw 1200 flamingos!  It was crazy, like, everywhere: Flamingos!

And the mountain reflected in the lake; it’s wonderful for me.

We would come around a corner and our guide would say, “Well, it’s lunch time. Let’s stop here.”  And he’d pick the most scenic, majestic place you’ve ever seen and they’d break out lunch and serve it on rocks for us before we got back in the SUV and continued on our way.

The rest of the trip was… it was a little lonely without our Alaskans, but we had a great time.  We stopped and stayed at each site, wherever we were, as long as we wanted and we couldn’t believe how different the landscape was.

Yeah, at one point we were… we had just left some mountain and lake and now we’re in the middle of the desert and there’s no wildlife anywhere and it’s just sand.  And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, it just starts hailing.  And within seconds, the entire desert turned to white and it was just the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.  I can’t believe we’re in the middle of a white desert in the middle of nowhere!

4,500 meters, around that, and the temperature is really cold.  I think the temperature should be something like… I don’t know, like 10 or 5 degrees, but it was really windy and when we were out of the car to take pictures?  Well, we just got in the car in like two minutes afterwards.

For me it’s very cold, but I enjoy it anyway.

All the afternoon was bright, like blue skies with clouds, which makes the scenery just amazing.

On the second night, we stayed in a hotel of sorts – kind of more like a concrete bunker, really, but while we were there, we went out to see the stars and we had the most perfectly clear night.  Again, at high altitude, there’s a lot less atmosphere to get in the way and when we looked up, you could see, actually, colors in the Milky Way band across the sky.  And when I took some pictures, it was the first time I’ve ever seen any kind of color show up on starlight photos.

The last morning, we got up very early and left about 4:30 in the morning.  We arrived at our highest point, 4,900 meters, where there were some active steam vents and fumaroles.

And what we saw there were thermal vents and the strangest blue light.  And it was foggy and steam everywhere and it really felt like I was on the moon, not on planet Earth.

There was a steam vent put in by an old mining company, too.  It was hot at the base, but you could put your hand in, higher up and we took turns jumping through that, just for fun.


Our guide had just gotten done telling us about an unfortunate tourist that had slipped into one of the 200°C boiling mud pits and then said, “Well let’s go walk around them; just be careful where you step!”

(Wait over there.  It’s not really dangerous. Con cuidado, Soledad.  Eso.)

When we were walking across there, there were ledges that were this big that he was asking us to step on and he would say, “Oh, don’t worry about that mud pit so much. It’s only 70° C.”

Right after saying that, he would jump from one little patch of dirt to the next, right over a boiling puddle of mud!

(La boca del diablo.  La boca del diablo! [laughter])

It was really creepy, but also it was really incredible.

And on day there?  We got to go to hot springs!

It wasn’t super hot, but it sure felt good… while you were in it!  It was freezing getting out and changing, though!

Finally, we arrived at the Chilean border and unfortunately we arrived a little bit late and our bus was already waiting for us, so we make a quick round of goodbyes to our new friends and head off to Chile.

For our trips that we’ve done in South America, this was the best – it’s the best tour that we’ve done.

The conditions weren’t great. It was cold.  We were tired.  We were out in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t know what was happening. But it still was my favorite part, because it was just so beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like that.

I said I hated tours, but, well… I loved this!  I loved yesterday and today I loved it, too, and tomorrow… I’m sure is going to be amazing, too!  (laughter)

Salar de Uyuni (part 2)
Postcard Valet: Episode 21

Postcard Valet is a Travel Podcast by Arlo & Oksana Midgett

24-25 February 2011

Special Thanks to Soledad Nakama & Joaquín Rivera

Special Thanks to Aurélie Parisot & Rémy Dahan

Special Thanks to Wendy & Dusty Doris of

Check out Red Planet Expeditions at www.redplanetexpedition.com

All footage, copyright 2011 Arlo Midgett, www.postcardvalet.com

With photos and videos by, copyright 2011 Wendy and Dusty Doris, www.roamthepla.net

And by copyright 2011 Aurélie Parisot & Rémy Dahan, www.newsfromtheworld.blogspot.com

And by copyright 2011 Soledad Nakama & Joaquín Rivera

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