Salar de Uyuni, or Bolivian salt flats, or funny photos

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The salar de Uyuni is the biggest salt flat in the world. Most of the time you are on it you can look in any direction and see nothing but an unending field of white. I think it’s about 12,000 sq km big and the salt in places is over 100m deep. It is a pretty spectacular place to spend a day. Which is what we did. We hauled into a Jeep with five other lovely people and mildly scared (this route and place is renowned for dangerous driving and death unfortunately- we saw one accident on the way from San Pedro) set off under the care of Atacama Mistica, who we highly recommend. We had a very good safe day (don’t worry mum and Carolyn), one day late as egg was a bit altitude sick and we used a day to acclimatise, probably a good idea.

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This is my favourite.

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This is me riding a llama, of which we saw lots.

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Human scale

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Egg is always very thirsty.

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This, if you can’t tell, is an homage to the lion king

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I really do love the llama.

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There was also an island covered with cacti in the middle of the salt flats, a bit like a mirage.

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In case it wasn’t clear, egg was far less keen on posing for these photos.

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Desert

From salta we got a bus to San Pedro de atacama in Chile. San Pedro is an oasis in the desert. An oasis split into two parts: the bit where the tourists stay, which is full of ho(s)tels, tour agencies and restaurants, and the other part where the 6000 inhabitants live.

From the overwhelming number of things to do around San pedro we decided to go Sandboarding, visit a salt lake where you can float effortlessly and take a early morning trip to see some geysers. I’ll let the photos talk for themselves.

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Stop offs

We decided to go through Paraguay, then back into Argentina and Chile on our way to Bolivia. Paraguay felt similar to Argentina, though we only visited the capital. Our route took us through Salta, in the north of Argentina where we then got a bus to Chile. Salta was pleasant.

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More Brasil

After Sao Paulo we got an 8 hour bus and then a boat to an island called Ihla grande to enjoy the brazilian island life for a few days.

That was the plan anyway. We only managed one day of beach enjoyment before Emma became ill. On the second day we walked for 2 hours through the jungle to get to the best beach on the island. I thought it was worth it but Emma wasn’t impressed by it. Maybe the beach was too beautiful, the sand too white and the water too clear. She developed a headache shortly after arriving so we went back to the hostel early so she could go to bed. And that’s where she stayed for the next 5 days, except for a visit to the island medical centre. We eventually left the island for Rio, 3 days later than planned.

We arrived in Rio at the end of carnival, so the streets were still full of people in costumes. We quickly found an english speaking doctor who gave Emma some tablets. She started feeling better over the next few days so we ventured out into Rio to explore a bit. We went up a cable car, walked around the centre and beachside neighbourhoods, and visited a gallery.

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Tropicalpolis: Sao Paulo

Hello. We’ve been to brazil.

Just a quick visit: two cities and an island. Well, two cities, an island, and the town we got a boat to the island from.

City number 1 was São Paulo. A huge sprawling city with about 20 million humans living there. We only had time to see a tiny part of the sprawl in 3 days. There was a lot of walking and looking – two of our favourite things – and searching for shade. Here are a few key moments from our time in “Sampa”:

Emma ate many pao de queijos (the new milcao, you might say), a cheese bread made from mandioca flour

I got addicted to fresh coconut juice, from a coconut, with a straw

I got very excited about all the new tropical fruit and vegetables – Emma managed to prevent me from buying them all at once

We struggled with Portuguese pronunciation, eventually resigning ourselves to just pointing and gesturing

We visited the largest bookshop in south america and bought a book on Portuguese language that didn’t help at all

We visited MUBE, an art gallery. MUBE fact: The land it now ocupies was at one point going to be turned into a car park but due to public demand for a comunal space it instead became MUBE. The architect put the gallery space under ground and created a public park on the surface to keep the public happy. MUBE

We visited MIS, another art gallery – Emma was excited because it had the Bowie exhibition that was on at the V&A last year. Entrance was about a third of the price of the V&A. Some people come to brazil to get cheaper plastic surgery. We just came for cheaper exhibitions

We went up a tower – the view from the top let us see just how vast Sao Paulo is

We visited a hidden Jazz club called Jazz nos fundos. It was so hidden that we couldn’t find it the first time and had to try again another night armed with detailed instructions. Our perseverance was rewarded with afro-carribean-jazz

We decided to visit China town so we could see how it compared with New York and London. After walking around the area where it was supposed to be for 20 minutes we had only managed to see a single Chinese person and nothing else. Perhaps China town was the Brazilian cafe that also sold yakisoba. Maybe that and the Chinese person we saw constitutes china town. We were hoping for a bit more

We tried to go for walking tour but turned up on wrong day. At first we were disappointed but then we remembered we can walk without a tour, so that’s what we did

Then it was time to leave.

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Average temperature: 30 degrees
Power cuts: 1
Pao de queijo’s eaten: 9
Thing most grateful for: air conditioning on the subway