|Up early this morning at 4.30 to leave at 5.30. No need for a shower as there isn't one! Breakfast is cold pancakes and warm coffee, a good combination. As we come out to pack the vehicle, Freddie is warming up the 4x4 with a tarp over the front grille. It got down to minus 17C so special care for the car as there are no service stations out here. Looking up we can now see a perfect sky without the moon or any artificial light interfering. We can see all the stars, including the southern cross and the Milky Way. The stars are so bright and so clear at this altitude of 4300 metres. We leave the Red Lagoon and drive to Sol de Mañana, a volcanic crater with geysers of steam and mud. We see sunrise here as the steam vents spectacularly in the early morning sunlight. There are no barriers or warning signs here and we get a "Don't fall in' verbal warning from our guide as we leave the vehicle and then we are free to wander amongst all the fumaroles and even put our hands near the venting steam. That's what we love about travelling, if this natural phenomenon was in Australia, we would be looking at it from afar, behind a big fence! A little further on we stop at Challviri Lagoon, where it's possible to try the hot springs. I dip my feet into the water and get them toasty warm as it was so cold last night and at least one part of me is clean! Here we also have to say goodbye to Zeeshan, as he has got a ride with another guide to the border of Chile. This will save us an extra hour or so in the car. The guides here help each other out a lot, taking on extra passengers or helping repair a vehicle or tyre because this is a harsh environment and there is so little infrastructure. This is what makes it attractive for us as travellers but difficult for the guides and drivers.
We continue on and the scenery is beautiful as the sun hits the mountains and we can see all shades of colours from the red earth, to olive greens from the lichens, and white from the snow. So spectacular! However, soon the scenery changes again, more dust and no vegetation and we see a Salvatore Dali like landscape with perfectly placed rocks as he painted in some of his surreal art works. The scenery throughout our trip has been constantly changing and we are in awe of the contrasts that we have seen over this relatively short distance. The scenery is truly spectacular and like no where else on earth!
We arrive at Green Lagoon which will have a varying shade of green, depending on the wind. Today it is not a vivid green but the reflection of the mountains in the water makes up for the lack of colour. We now descend down and head back towards Uyuni, passing by a small company that mines borax. However, we do have one more stop at Black Lagoon. The landscape here is quite different. It's not an open area with a clear view of the lagoon, instead we have to drive though some rocky outcrops on a very narrow track before we can see the lagoon. This lagoon looks black because of the black sediment beneath the water, but the outstanding feature here is, the contrast between the black lagoon and the shades of reds and the browns of the rocky gorge that the lagoon sits within. It's just beautiful.
As we continue on we are now really getting down in altitude. We start to see some small villages and more vegetation with alpacas and llamas, and even 4 ostriches.
As we get closer to Uyuni we go through roadworks with a few detours onto dirt tracks, which means lots of dust. Janice sits there with her hands over her face for half an hour because of the dust. I really don't know why, as all the windows are closed and the dust is not getting inside. She's a strange one! We arrive back at Uyuni and the 4 of us head to the local pizza bar for a quinoa base pizza with extra quinoa on top. Delicious!