We were woken at 4:30. In almost complete darkness we stumbled around the hotel, sifting through the salt floor for our belongings. Piling into the jeep we drove back out to the flats.

The sky was lightening quickly so we kept our eyes fixed on the horizon, afraid to miss what we had woken so early to see.

The sunrise did not disapoint. Watching its reflection in the smooth, wet salt was like watching two suns rising and setting simultaneously.

It was a refreshing and beautiful way to start the day.

The entire day was filled with exotic landscapes. We set off through scenic fields of Quinoa plants…

…and lunched at a lagoon while watching flamingos stand about in their funny one-legged way.

At another stop, we watched innocent-looking puffs of smoke emanate from a semi-active volcano…

… and climbed over strange looking volcanic rock formations.

We passed through tiny, remote villages that just ached to be photographed,

and across barren deserts. We stopped to marvel at the Seven Coloured rock that looks as if seven buckets of paint have overturned and poured down the rock face.

Another colourful sight was Laguna Colorada, whose rich minerals give it the impression that it is changing colours in front of your very eyes.

Had you been knocked unconscious and dropped into any one of these landscapes, you would wake and begin gasping for air, believing that you had been shot into space and come to on the surface of some strange, distant planet.

That night we slept in a hostel in Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve and met another group of travelers who had the misfortune of being set up with a drunk driver. The company they booked through was one of the ones we had been considering. It’s funny how relative our perception of safety is.

We felt extremely lucky to have Miguel as our driver. At only 20, he seemed like one of the more responsible drivers around. He was extremely knowledgeable, a skilled mechanic and a good cook (despite most of our meals being prepared out the back of the truck!). We really couldn’t have asked for more.