Meeting new people on the road is one of the highlights of traveling, but there is something completely special about a friend or family member joining in on the memories. For 10 days my best friend, Parisa, and I escaped the miners strike in La Paz, survived a 15 hour bus ride without a bathroom, shared stunning landscape views, made it through extremely cold nights and a bout of food poisoning, engaged in many goofy to soul-searching conversations, and came out with incredible memories that will last our lifetime of friendship. Seriously, how can you pee in the dirt right next to your friend (and 50 other bus riders) at 4am in the middle of nowhere Bolivia and it not be a bonding experience?!
The main chunk of our travels together were spent on a tour of the Bolivian Salt Flats (or Salar de Uyuni) in the southwest corner of the country. The jeep tour left from Tupiza, traversed the scenic dirt roads for 3 days and finally stopped on the last day at the salt flats, ending in the town of Uyuni. We were paired with a German couple near to us in age, a local driver and cook.
This was the easiest traveling I had done to date, beyond maybe the Galapagos cruise! We sat in the cramped 3rd row Land Cruiser seating day after day, watching (or sleeping if you’re P) the strange scenery go by, before enjoying tea and cookies while we waited for meals to be serve. Each night we stayed in a basic hostel/hotel accommodation. On the night we all got hit in some way or another with food poisoning, we pooled some money together and started bartering for a private bathroom. By far the best accommodation was the 3rd night when we stayed at a hotel actually made of salt (our first shower in days and it was hot too!).
It was a beautiful corner of the world. Vast nothingness, algae colored lagoons, soaring volcanoes, flocks of flamingos, herds of vicunas, geysers, rock formations, an abandoned ghost city and the main attraction of over 4,000 square feet of salt crust. All of this at an elevation ranging roughly between 12,000 – 16,000 feet. And I’m the lucky girl that got to experience it all with best friend!
Here is the tour breakdown by days in photos: