The Ground is Boiling

ยท by wendy

Bright and early! We continued our Salt Flats and Southwestern Bolivia tour at 4 a.m. on our third day. Off again in our SUV through the desert to who knows where. Not too long into our ride we could see some sunlight beginning to peek out over the horizon. We started to notice lots of fog in the distance. Turns out they were geysers!

Natural Geisers Warming up with the Geiser

There were spots all over the place where sulfer fumes were escaping through the ground with a really interesting whirring sound. We stopped to get closer and then noticed that the ground was bubbling in many spots. Our guide showed us up close but eventually warned us that we should get back because it was dangerous. The ground was boiling!

We could tell that our guide was in a hurry, although we didn’t know why. We jumped back in the SUV and he hurried us off to the next spot. We figured out why when we pulled up to a steaming lagoon nearby. He didn’t want us to miss sunrise! We jumped out of the SUV and into a hot bath and enjoyed the morning while our cook prepared breakfast.

Morning Hot Tub Party

Hot Tub Before Breakfast Flamingos in the Lagoon

While we were sitting in the hot bath, we began what is now a normal conversation for us. It goes something like this…

Dusty: “What the heck?”
Wendy: “OMG.”
Dusty: “We just saw the ground boiling and now we’re sitting in a thermal bath, looking at flamingos during sunrise in Bolivia!”
Wendy: “This is insane.”

There was no more time to continue pondering our whereabouts and the freakish landscapes. We were off again through the desert to our last freakish landscape. The last place on the list was Laguna Verde. While we were there it was looking more blue than green, however, our guide told us that it gets greener when a heavier wind blows across it. Also, no animals live here due to the high mineral content. According to our guide, Argentina is behind the left mountain and Chile behind the center.

Laguna Verde

One last time in the SUV, we headed off to our final destination, the border. We had already received our exit stamps in Uyuni 3 days prior as suggested. Now, all we had to do was sit and wait for our scheduled transport. While we waited we met some other travelers who were trying to cross the border. They needed 6 more Bolivianos to pay for their Bolivian exit and asked us if we would accept 4 chocolate bars in trade. The border official saw what was going down and intercepted. He wanted the chocolate bars! Paying to leave a country with chocolate bars?!? That’s a good story to go along with what looks like another good story…bicycling across the continent?

Bikers going to Chile Bikers entering Chile

While we waited for our transport to Chile, I asked the border official if there was a bathroom and he rolled his eyes at me. I guess only chocolate works on this guy. It’s funny how another person can “make” you feel. I actually felt guilty for asking for a bathroom. As if he doesn’t use one on a regular basis. I eventually found what had become one for every other traveler.

Old Bolivian Bus Bus to Chile

Soon, our transport arrived and we were whisked off to San Pedro de Atacama in our fifth country! Bienvenidos a Chile!

Click here to see Day 1 of the tour at the Salt flats. Click here to see photos of Day 2 and 3 of the tour.


Red Planet
3 day/2 night Tour

  • Day 1: Salt Flats and Train Graveyard
  • Day 2: desert tour, landscapes, Laguna Colorada
  • Day 3: Laguna Verde, geysers, thermal bath, transport to Chile or Uyuni


  • 700 Bs or $100 USD per person for a 6 person tour
  • Entrance to Parque Nacional de Laguna Colorada: 150 Bs or $21 USD
  • Our tour was more costly due to scheduling a private tour with 2 friends and paying to keep the last two seats vacant
  • We also gave our guide and cook a tip

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