Salar Uyuni – 3 days on Mars

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From cold weather in the Bolivian Andes we headed to the burning desert of Uyuni. Uyuni itself has not much too offer but it is a great starting point. We took a regular 3 days tour from one of the agencies in town heading from Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) with Salty Desert Adventures.

Day 1 – Train Cemetery, Salt Flats and Mirror Effect

We met our group at 10am at Uyuni – 6 people in total (fitting in 1 jeep) – Triston from San Francisco, Sabrina from Germany, Sophie&Baptiste from Paris and our guide Peter from Potosí. The latter used to work in the mines for 14 years and then changed his life and location to become guide at the Salar.

Our first stop was the train cemetery where we got off to take pictures crawling on all kinds of rusty, abandoned train wagons and locomotives dating back to the golden mining era.

Back in the jeep we started our way into the Salar. We were dazzled by the seeming infinity and whiteness-brightness of the salt desert. After lunch we headed further into the salt flats witnessing the famous mirror effect that only occurs in rain season months (Jan/Feb). We took countless funny pictures including small gozilla statutes, jumps and bends. After a longer drive we finally arrived in a salt hotel in the middle of nowhere where we spent our first night on a salt bed.

Day 2 – Higher altitude, volcanos and flamingos 

After breakfast we headed out for a new day full of adventures. We discovered an area of the desert that used to be a sea a longtime ago and you can nowadays still find fossils and corals. The few altiplano lagoons are vivid in colors depending on their minerals and home to three different species of flamingos. We observed them from far away and nearby to see all their different shades of pink.

During our drive we had plenty of stopovers at viewpoints where we could take great shots of volcanoes, snowy peaks and deserted land.

After a day full of vistas we stopped for our night at a modest hostel in the middle of the desert.

Day 3 – 5000mts, geysers and snow

We woke up to a snow storm which turned the desert into winter wonderland. While it was certainly a fun touch it made visiting the first attractions in the morning difficult since noone wanted to get out of the warm car with -1 degrees outside.

Our first stop were geysers at 5000metres altitude that shoot boiling steam out of the ground. Most of them are so hot you have to be careful approaching them. A few miles down the road we got to enjoy the volcanic advantages and went for an early morning dip into the local termales. What a nice way to wake up 🙂 and shower at the same time.

From there we quickly made our way to the border with Chile where we stamped out and in and waited for our bus to San Pedro de Atacama.

Tips:

  • Salty Desert Adventures – we got the trip for about 750 Bolivianos which is quite cheap for the services. Our guide was amazing, the jeep was new (and not stuffed with more passengers than it has capacity for), and the food was plentiful. If you are not a fan of llama meat and co maybe choose vegetarian option before leaving.
  • Spend as little time as possible in Uyuni, the city is not worth it. Consider taking a night bus from La Paz or somewhere else and then just heading right for the tour – no worries there is plenty of offer to book last minute.
  • Take clothes for warm and cold as it is very changy and ALWAYS have a hat and sunscreen with you. Desert plus altitude plus lots of sun makes you burn fast.
  • We heard the tour is better from Tupiza to Uyuni since you go upside down and you have one day more.

 

 

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