The shiny, shimmering world of the Bolivian salt flats

Being chased by a dinosaur on the Bolivian salt flats

The loud blare of the jeep horn sounds again into the cold, star-studded sky as we hastily try to down a boiling hot cup of coca mate (tea) and last mouthful of jam-covered pancake.

Star-jumping on the Bolivian salt flats

García, our small group’s mainly mute but ever-grumpy driver has decided it’s time to set out on the next leg of our trip across the Salar de Uyuni – the Bolivian salt flats – and it’s not even 5am.

“Vamos!” he booms, with another rev of the engine, and Phil and I and our friends the Coles have pulled on our gloves and grabbed our bags to jump into the waiting car faster than you can say “impatient much?”

Taking a lick from the biggest lollipop in the World

If there’s one thing that attracts travellers to Bolivia, it’s probably these stunning natural wonders.

In the midst of the desert, all you can see for thousands of miles is a vast sheet of brilliant white beneath the blue heavens.

This canvas provides the perfect backdrop for some creative photos and before long Phil and I are striking some bizarre-looking poses while attempting to line up with the Coles’ small props.

Being munched by a croc

Lying flat on the floor a few metres away and squinting into the camera lens, Brenton directs us into position for some memorable montages: Phil being eaten by a crocodile, me licking a gigantic lollipop, us both being chased by a dinosaur or leaning on the globe.

When it comes to comedy photos, Uyuni is a snapper’s paradise.

Our album now features Phil ‘farting’ out a geyser and us both investigating our first night’s hostel made of salt by licking the walls, tables and bed etc.

We visit lagoons coloured red and green by the algae that thrives within them, and perch on one leg in front of the hundreds of Andean, James’s and Chilean flamingos that stand foraging through the mud.

The visit to ‘Fish Island’ proves particularly memorable as it is distinctly lacking in any fish – instead wholly populated by giant cacti, some of which are over 1,000 years old.

We are just starting to enjoy warming up our frozen feet in a steaming thermal bath alongside another flamingo-filled lake when the dreaded horn sounds again and García rolls by, glaring at us to get a move on.

Relaxing in the salty thermal baths

After two days of driving along listening to a ten-track playlist of Bolivian music that all sounds the same, we cheer as Phil figures out how to link up his ‘special’ playlist to the car stereo, just in time for our eight-hour jaunt back to base.

And, in possibly our greatest achievement to date, even García can’t help but crack a smile when the Bohemian Rhapsody headbanging kicks in.

In the bizarre world of the Bolivian salt flats it’s quite apt really: “Is this the real life, is this just fantasy…?”

Big foot squashes a little irrirant

About travellingtoothbrushes

We are a couple of journalists with restless toothbrushes. Our teeth scrubbers seem unable to leap out of their respective washbags to take up a permanent residency on the bathroom shelf. So, we've decided to let them live the way they want to and take them on a trip around South America...
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