To the outlet, which means it’s downhill a bit to the gigantic Salar plain from here. This is an extraordinary place. High-altitude yet green. The detail around you is pin sharp, the visibility endless. It’s very cold
And a Raoulia in bloom, how about that
I had an agenda. I have to see how much water is on the famed Salar de Uyuni. Stephan had said the day before the rains have started properly. So I race a bit imprudently down the notoriously difficult road (sand) another 20 miles to see. Sure enough, it’s a lake
The Salar is the world’s biggest salt flat. It’s 10,500 square k’s at 12,000′ elevation. It’s used to calibrate the world’s satellites. It has so many extraordinary features books have been written about it. I’m here, after three days of riding to see if a) it can be crossed and b) if there are any riders around about to cross it to the Lagunas. It’s the entry point. I’ve been looking forward to it for months, but am not willing to do it solo or if it’s raining. It’s 250 miles of sand and it’s the first route after the Salar and I’m not going to tempt the Gods with so far to go in the grand plan. A decision I’ve been mulling over for a month. But I can easily be back soonish.
So it was a long shot because I don’t know any riders behind me in Bolivia. They seem to be holed up in Cusco for Christmas. Despite the Salar problem (riding the salt water trashes the wiring and anything aluminum) I decide to cruise around town and hang out for a couple of days to see if anyone is here or shows up. I’ll talk to the 4X4 drivers and get the story on the weather.
I have a plan to return here up the coast from Santiago (since that’s a place I have to be twice in the plan) at the end of the rainy season and when I can organize timing it to ride with another bike. But there are a number of reasons I may not. We’ll see.
The next two riders behind me are skipping Bolivia altogether. One pair has gone down the coast and entered Chile already, which I slightly envy.
Hey, but let’s cheer up because we’re here at least. What a crazy place, the end of the world almost. I can get a tour out on the Salar on a 4×4 but decide not to for two reasons: 1) I want to ride out onto it one day on Lucinda, maybe soon, and 2) I didn’t come all this way solo to sit in a truck with 5 strangers for a day.