Ever heard of Salar de Uyuni? Open your Google maps for a minute or go get your old world globe (if you still have one) and try to find the biggest whitest spot in the West of Bolivia. Do you see it? You’ve just found the salty miracle of Latin-America.
A must-do in Bolivia
The Salar de Uyuni, the big white spot you’ve just found on your map, is one of the places you’ll want to go to when you’re in Bolivia. It has something magical. When you go to Uyuni you will find yourself in the desert, kind of in the middle of nowhere and when you visit its Salar all you’ll see is white and grayish land surrounding you. Don’t be fooled though. It looks like land, but once you leave your 4×4 vehicle you’ll notice your shoes getting a little bit wet due to the salty white lake you’re actually walking on.
An afternoon highlight
There are many different tours to the Salar de Uyuni. You can make a three-days tour if you have enough time to spend in Uyuni where you visit the Salar, but also the geysers and the lagoon. If you’re interested in a one-day tour to Salar de Uyuni then you could take the tour from Oasis Tours. I enjoyed their afternoon tour with an amazingly beautiful surprise at the end of the day.
Forgotten trains and Dakar
At 15:00 we leave from the Oasis Tours office in Uyuni with a 4×4 camper. The first stop is at the train cemetery where the driver-guide gives a short explanation about the reason of its existence. I walk around at the train rails and can even climb the rusty wagons and locomotives. It’s quite the Indiana Jones ambiance over there, really cool!
After about half an hour of train spotting we continue to a little market where the local salt handwork is being exhibited as well as the other local products of Uyuni.
We are getting closer to the Salar and after having passed many salt statues of the Dakar 2014 we’re getting exited to reach our destination!
The enchanted colors of the salt flats
We see a big white area laying in front of us and the driver is making his way towards it. He has to cross the first part of the Salar to get to the best place for us, camera owners.
After two stops at the infinities of salt it seems as if we are heading back already to the city, but there is one more stop before actually leaving this impressive place. From white to grey, from grey to blue, from blue to purple and from purple to orange, until it’s all black and the stars will create the last bit of magic. The sunset appears at the rear of the camper and once we get off we get to experience those wonderful colors with our own eyes.
How to get to Salar de Uyuni
If you’re already in Bolivia then there are three cities that connect by bus with the city of Uyuni where you will have to go to if you want to visit Salar de Uyuni.
You can travel from Potosi, Villazon, or Tupiza to Uyuni. If you’re used to the comfortable buses from Argentina then I can recommend you to expect very little of the Bolivian buses. The buses in Bolivia are very cheap though – for BOB 50 you can travel quite far – but still nicely said they are really uncomfortable. There is no toilet on board and even if you travel for 8 hours you’ll get just one toilet break in a local village after 5 hours.
I still think it was very doable, but just not comfortable. So get yourself a nice hotel with a good bed for after the bus ride so that you can relax again and wake up the next morning with a smile. After all, you’ll want to enjoy your stay in Bolivia and smile on those amazing photos you’re going to ask other tourists to take of you 😉
My advice if you’re traveling from Argentina to Uyuni
You can take the overnight border bus from Salta, Argentina to Tarija, Bolivia and from there you can travel to Potosi (the highest city of the world), where after maybe two days of getting used to the altitude (4060) you can continue your journey to Uyuni with a rented taxi – which is worth your money and cost less time, if you’ve been traveling by bus too much lately – for a fixed price of BOB 500 (about 50 euros).
Tip! Buy some coca leaves against the altitude sickness for this journey.
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