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Uyuni Salt Flats, an unreal landscape

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Uyuni Salt Flats, an unreal landscape

One of the best experiences I had backpacking through South America was touring the Uyuni Salt Flats, 3 days and 2 nights watching landscapes that seem as though they are from another planet. It is one of those places you have to visit at least once in a life, luckily I can already cross them off my bucket list!

HOW TO GET TO UYUNI?

We left La Paz at night and arrived to the town of Uyuni after more than 12 hours on a slom, bumpy bus ride through rocky desert roads. When in went in 2013, the roads were in the process of being asphalted so hopefully they are now in a better condition. Although, we couldn’t get much rest, the excitement for the incredible days ahead made us forget all about the fatigue once we got to Uyuni.

HOW TO HIRE THE UYUNI SALT FLATS TOUR?

The town of Uyuni itself hasn’t much to offer apart from being the door to one of the most spectacular places in the world, which is quite a lot! There are several agencies to hire the tour, you can ask to two or three, haggle and take the one that offers you the best price. Most companies provide similar things, but if you don’t speak Spanish make sure you pick a company with a guide who speaks your language! They will also tell you also to rent a sleeping bag because it is very cold, we, despite their insistence, didn’t do it because it was November (Spring in the southern hemisphere) and we didn’t need it, although in winter temperatures can reach -15ºC.

Salar de Uyuni

The tour is done in a jeep, the driver is also the guide, cook and mechanic, such a good catch! We had the pleasure of sharing the experience with three American guys with very good vibes and we all had a lot of fun. Of course, during these three days forget about trying to use wifi or having any signal, which I found a plus as it enabled me to fully enjoy the experience.

DAY 1 OF THE UYUNI SALT FLATS TOUR

The first stop is at the train cemetery, an interesting place where you can see the rusty skeletons of trains, vestige of the great old Bolivian mining industry.

After walking around a landscape that seemed like it was taken out of the Burning Man festival, and visiting a museum of salt, we arrived at the magnificent Uyuni Salt Flats, the world’s largest salt flat with a plain of over 10.000 sq km. Here we had the chance to take the famous photos with perspective, our guide left us some dinosaurs toys for it and we spent some time goofing around. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and sunglasses, because when sunlight hits the salt ground it’s very intense.

To end the day, we visited the Fish Island, imagine an island in the middle of a salt desert which is full of giant cactus, an extraordinary place!

After driving 600-700km, that night we slept in a hostel of salt in the middle of nowhere which belonged to the aunt’s driver. From the walls to the floor, the place was made entirely made with salt and we were the only guests.

Salar de Uyuni - Cementerio de trenes

Salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni - Hostel de sal

DAY 2 OF THE UYUNI SALT FLATS TOUR

The second day of the tour was also amazing. We crossed the border with Chile and ate flamingo (or so the driver said, because it tasted like chicken to me…), we saw Ollagüe Volcano in the distance, visited the famous stone tree and marveled over the extraordinary Colored Lagoons, with each one more beautiful than the previous.

During the tour we were in constant awe of the desert, mountains, lagoons as the landscapes were full of colors that contrasted with the bright blue sky.

Moreover, we could also see wild animals like vicunas, llamas, viscachas or flamingos.

That night we slept in the Laguna Dorada, in a “hostel” that didn’t even have tap water. Every time we went to the bathroom, we had to get water from a container and throw it in the toilet. But it was worth it just to see the stars at night, never in my life I’d seen such a beautiful sky.

Salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni - flamencos

Salar de Uyuni - árbol de piedra

DAY 3 OF THE UYUNI SALT FLATS TOUR

We got up at 4 am to see the geysers in the area of Sol de Mañana at a heigh of almost 5,000m. It was a sight to behold, but quite unpleasant to smell… After this we went to the thermal baths. So there we were, at 7 in the morning blissfully enjoying our bath whilst llamas looked on in envy from an outside temperature of  10ºC. Just another typical Monday morning.

To put the icing on the cake to this amazing Uyuni tour we went to the Green Lagoon, which leaves you speechless when you see it, just awesome!

Salar de Uyuni - llamas

Salar de Uyuni - géiseres

Salar de Uyuni - termas

Salar de Uyuni

If you then want to continue your trip to San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), you can arrange a shuttle bus to get there with the same agency you did the Uyuni tour.

The curious thing about this tour is that I, like many others, before doing it, had only heard of the Uyuni Salt Flats. Little by little, howeer, we are continually surprised and we discover a lot of wonderful places that we didn’t know existed before. This is an experience that I recommend 100%.

Ana Marco

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