With just two days left on our Chilean visas we headed for the Bolivian border and on to Uyuni famous for the Salar de Uyuni salt flat. The road was marked on the map as largely unpaved, but we were hoping the section on the Chilean side would be in good condition. We were wrong, although there were some random sections of good quality paved road out there in the middle of nowhere.
The landscape you pass through is awesome; surrounded by lakes,volcanoes (some of them smoking) and herds of vacuna grazing. The driving was engaging and fun too! Although when we saw a wrecked chilean police car that had left the road at some tight bends and rolled down the steep hill-side my focus on driving increased somewhat.
We arrived at a Chilean Cabineros post before the border, they were talking to me and when they caught sight of Cyril (the wood burning stove) (we may have spent too long in our van!) and exclaimed about our Estufa! I then opened up the back so they could see Cyril in all his glory, they thought this was very amusing – an estufa in a van! Out came smart phones to take pictures before sending us on our way. There’s a short video of the trip here, sorry for the poor editing!
The border crossing was the first with Steve so we didn’t really know what to expect. It turned out to be slightly mystifying, but relatively painless and we made it over with must of our food stash intact despite lots of internet stories of losing the lot. The roads actually improved on the Bolivian side of the border and we made good progress toward Uyuni, although we still ended up driving in darkness for some of the way. In an ideal world driving in the dark is a no-no, but when you’ve only got an hour to go you just have to push on through.