Traveling to the Desert

November 16, 2005
Day 49

After eating another American breakfast I hopped on a bus to Uyuni along with Chris and Katrina from Australia, whom I had met yesterday. The ride was a long six hours through the middle of the desert. None of the roads along the way were paved, but the ride still wasn't bad because we descended all the way down to 3500 meters (11,500 feet). The altitude in Uyuni is a picnic after spending time in Potosí, the highest city in the world.

When we finally got to Uyuni, we only had a few hours before the tour companies closed, so we began looking for a good deal on a tour of the nearby salt flats. After getting quotes from two different companies, we stumbled upon an agency that gave independent analysis of all 46 tour agencies in town. The company provided a great service to travelers, but I don't think they'll be in business much longer, considering that they don't charge anything. We looked at several recommendations and complaints, and decided that it didn't really matter which company we went with. They all offered basically the same tour, and if there weren't enough people on our trip, we would be combined with another company anyway.

We decided to go back to the second agency we talked to, and the bargaining process began. I wanted to do four-day tour, but the others wanted to be dropped off in Chile after three days. The tour agency employee convinced me that the forth day would be a waste of time and that I should return after three days. I convinced her that she should lower the price for us all if I skip my fourth day. I think we got a good deal for the trip in the end, considering that we paid much less than anyone had quoted us for.

After booking our tickets, we went out for a long pizza dinner. I wanted to get some rest before the big trip, so I ended up going to bed early. Uyuni is just a small town in the middle of the desert, so there isn't much to do there anyway, other than talk to 46 different tour agencies about trips into the salt flats.

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