We left San Pedro de Atacama for the salt lagoons in the middle of the desert. These salt flats and water holes require over an hour rumbling down a rough dirt road. As our Chilean driver said, the lagoons are a dream, the road is a nightmare. We popped a tire on the way to the lagoons, so the road lived up to it’s reputation.
Once we finally arrived at the lagoons, we had the run of the place for a while. We walked through the flats and swam in the two lagoons in which swimming is permitted.
The pools hold salt water with salinity sometimes exceeding that of the Dead Sea. The ground and pool edges surrounding the pool are sharp, jagged salt crystals, which made for ginger entry and exit. The water is incredibly buoyant, and one can flow without effort. In fact, you can lay on your back and hold your arms and legs out of the water, and you still won’t sink.
The guides advise you to float on your back only. If you try to swim on your belly, your legs will lift out of the water, causing you to dunk your face into the highly salty water. This would badly burn the eyes, potentially causing hours of pain. I thought for certain one of the kids would be dunked, but everyone managed to follow the rules and enjoy the pool.