Early morning wakes up for the boys again under freezing conditions which made Andre decide to wear long pants for the first time on the trip a
and off they went to the Salares how the Bolivians call the Salt Lake.
2km out of town they however found the road being totally blocked with cars, old tyres and stones by some grim looking Bolivian demonstrators. These gauchos spoke no word of English but carried on to move their heads in the international NO NO way so the boys decided to get back to the B & B to ask the English-speaking receptionist whether he knew what type of theatre was being played here on the outskirts of Uyuni.
“so sorry to tell you that this is a demonstration against our major who has done nothing to improve the state of our roads in this town”
“Is there any other way we can get to the Salt Lake”
“Yes, you might be able to drive next to the railway line and join the right road after about 5km”
Hola, this is not a big obstacle for team Lipstick and soon they were in off-road mood driving next to the railway line out of town and seeing the barricaded road from a distance they again joined the real road some 3km there after Avaroa
Passing the Hotel del Salar which is unique in that it is built from salt only they soon were in the middle of the world’s biggest Salt Lake and were in fact driving on it. They were joined by a group of tourists and their guide who came back from the deeper sides of the lake where they watched the sunrise this morning.
On the edge of the salt lake one can admire many monuments sculptures totally from salt
The boys thought hard on whether to drive through the deeper end but after the tourists told them that the water sometimes reached the bottom of their Land cruiser’s door decided against this and so they left after an hour to make their way towards Chile.
This meant kissing the tar roads of Bolivia goodbye and after a rough ride on a gravel road with many snow-capped mountains been seen in the not too far distance they arrived at what must be the least frequented Border post between Bolivia and Chile with small villages of Avaroa and Ollague on either side of this desert Border line.
The exit from Bolivia was a matter of minutes whilst the officials on the Chile side inspected the car more properly including a sniffer dog.
Soon the boys found themselves in the middle of the Atacama desert which is known as the driest area on earth
The Atacama Desert is a plateau in South America, covering a 1000-km strip of land on the Pacific coast, west of the Andes mountains.
It is the driest desert in the world. According to estimates, the Atacama Desert occupies 105,000 km2or 128,000 km2 if the barren lower slopes of the Andes are included.
Most of the desert is composed of stony terrain, salt lakes and felsic lava that flows towards the Andes.
Geographically, the aridity of the Atacama is explained by it being situated between two mountain chains (the Andes and the Chilean Coast Range) of sufficient height to prevent moisture advection from either the Pacific or the Atlantic Oceans, a two-sided rain shadow.
So, the boys were now on the dry spot of this globe and learned with interest that this area is also used by Nasa to test their robot vehicles which they are sending to Mars.
Due to its extreme dryness, the Atacama Desert in Chile is one of the most important environments on Earth for researchers who need to approximate the conditions of Mars.
Working in 90-plus-degree heat in arguably the driest place on Earth, the team behind NASA’s Atacama Rover Astrobiology Drilling Studies, or ARADS, project just completed its second season of tests. The project aims to show that roving, drilling and life-detection can all happen together, with the goal of demonstrating the technical feasibility and scientific value of a mission that searches for evidence of life on Mars.
Team Lipstick was happy to reach Antofagasta the most populated northern town of Chile in late afternoon – leaving the harsh land of the Acatama desert behind.
Antofagasta is a port city and regional capital in a mining area in northern Chile’s Atacama Desert. It’s known for its copper production