Our whole purpose of going through the Bolivian VISA process and paying the annoying fee was to do one thing and that was to go to the Uyuni Salt Flats. We figured if we went through all that hassle, we might as well do it big, go for 3 days/2 nights and do many things. Here is what we did and what we thought:
We started the journey in the town of Uyuni after yet another overnight bus trip, this time from La Paz. The bus ride was rough so we were a bit “on edge” arriving in Uyuni at 6:00 AM especially considering we had to board our Jeep, after arrival, for our multi-day trip at 10:30 AM. But we roughed it out. The first thing they did was split us into groups of 6 because that’s how many they pack into the Jeeps. There were 4 Jeeps in the group with 2 staying together at all times. As you can imagine this part is critical, because if you are stuck with a crap group then it can make for a long 3 days. We were lucky to find ourselves in an awesome group that included a couple from New Zealand, who ironically only had 3 weeks left until the end of their year long adventure (shout out Michael and Louise) and a couple of girls from Australia who had been everywhere in Central America. Once we got past the awkward “summer camp vibe” it was all laughs, tips, and advice about traveling.
Day 1 sights:
Went to the train graveyard, which is the site of the first locomotives in Bolivia that are now abandoned.
Visited the small settlement of Colchani to see how salt is produced from the flats.
We made our way to the Salt Flats of Uyuni (Salar de Uyuni), which sits at an altitude of around 3,600m. While we did see some other cool things, this was by the far the highlight of the trip and our reason for going. The flats are the largest in the world at over 4,000 sq. miles. They were formed from prehistoric lakes. It’s super “trippy” because you feel as though you are looking at an ocean and that the cars are boats or that you’re on another planet all together. Within the salt flats we toured, we saw a few different things:
Our first stop was to the first hotel made completely of salt. We can confirm that it truly is made entirely out of salt. This is where we paused for lunch (made by our guides) and also took some fun proportion distorted photos.
After entirely too many photos (our guide loved taking these photos and videos), we made our way to Isla Incahuasi (Fish Island). This island, in the middle of the salt flats, is filled with cactus and petrified coral.
Our last stop was supposed to be at another island to see the sunset. Unfortunately we took a lot of time taking pictures, so we were a bit behind schedule. As a result it was getting later and darker and our driver got us into a bit of a pickle…
Day 2 Sights:
We started early in the morning and went to the Chiquana Desert where we saw a live volcano.
After the volcano, we made our way to the Andean Lagoons where there were some flamingos hanging out (3 species of them to be exact).
Lastly, we drove through a national reserve (Eduardo Avaroa) to visit the highest and driest desert in the world, saw some lava rock formations and the beautiful Laguna Colorada.
We were sharing lodging at this point and ended the day with plenty of wine and laughs.
Day 3 Sights:
We started REAL early on Day 3 to make our way to the geysers where steaming craters of mud reach around 400 degrees F. The scary part was that it was still dark so one slip, and let’s just say you would need a cold shower…or a casket.
Next, we made our way to the hot springs to enjoy a nice warm “bath” while the sun was coming out. I think we could have stayed there all day.
The last stop on our trip was to the Dali Desert where Salvador Dali found inspiration for paintings from the scattered boulders in the middle of the desert.
Overall, this was a great adventure that we would recommend to anyone. We would also suggest the multi-day trip and not just a day trip, because you can see so much in just a few days. And it’s such a fun way to make your way down to Chile!