Bolivia: Salar de Uyuni

We were picked up from our hostel in San Pedro at 7AM to start the exciting 3 day trip to Uyuni. First, we drove by minivan to the border with Bolivia, which took about an hour. Due to Christmas start-up problems, both borders were still closed though – so we had time for breakfast. Once all formalities were taken care of and we paid the park fee, we changed to a Jeep and made our way to the white & green Lagoons at the base of the Licancabur Volcano.

Laguna Blanca
The mountains bordering Chile

We then drove north towards Salvador Dali Desert.

Dali rocks, named as they are strewn randomly across the landscape like in a Dali painting.

From there, we went to the Polques Hot Spring. It was so nice to relax in the warm waters while enjoying the beautiful views.

Enjoying lovely hot springs

We then made it to the Geysers of Morning Sun, at 5000 meters. This was also the highest point of our trip.

Geyser field with largest geyser
Alien landscapes in the geyser field
The red coloured pool at the geyser field

After a good lunch, we drove to the Red Lagoon. This lagoon had hundreds of flamingos. It was very windy though, so we were blasted with sand while we walked.

Laguna colorada, with hard winds leading to nice shapes in the landscape
Zoom in of the gorgeous mountains

Our final stop of the first day was Villa Mar at 3500 meters. We slept in a newly built hostal with a great view. The hostel even had a hot shower, which we urgently needed after being sand blasted all day. The jeep’s air conditioning isn’t working, and so we drove all dust roads with our windows open. You can guess how our clothes will look like in 3 days, let alone our lungs…

Villa Mar village, view from our hostel where we stayed our first night

The next morning, we started by visiting the Valley of the rocks. Here you can see rocks in shapes like a world cup!

World cup rock
Jenk climbing
Riding the camel!
Climbing the highest rocks we could find in the Lost city of Italy (apparently the rocks look like streets in Italy)
Hello from the top!

We then made a stop at a scenic lake with lots of llamas.

Lake with llamas
Llamas with pretty mountain views

Our next stop was the Black Lagoon. It’s surrounded by beautiful rock formations which housed lots of vizcachas (rabbits with long tails).

Walking towards laguna negra
Laguna negra
Vizcacha at laguna negra

Near the laguna negra was a rural community where we had lunch. From there we went to Anaconda valley view point (also called waterfall rocks). The views are spectacular, you look down hundreds of meters into the valley below. The river looks like an anaconda from above, hence the name.

Anaconda river valley. How awesome is this view?

After this final stop, we drove for 2 hours to the Villa Candelaria, where we stayed at the (also newly built) Isla Dorada salt hostel. The village lies almost on the edge of the Salar, which we will visit tomorrow. The hostel we stayed at wasn’t 100% built with salt, as was the case with the salt hotel Jos slept at 7 years ago when she visited. This hostel was about 50% made with salt blocks. The ceiling and floors were built with regular materials, but parts of the wall, the beds and the nightstand were made from salt blocks. But it had a hot shower and charging stations for your camera so that’s the plus side of not being in a 100% salt hotel.

The next morning, we got up at 4AM in order to see the sunrise from Incahuasi island in the Salar. We drove for 2 hours while most slept in the jeep until we reached the island. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day, and we didn’t see the sunrise (we arrived late anyway). We took our time to see the island, and then had breakfast.

Pretending to be a cactus at Incahuasi island in the Salar
Incahuasi island lookout
Cacti flowers
Strange cactus at Incahuasi island

Finally it was time for the Salar! We drove through hours of landscapes just as the one below.

The endless Salar flats

We of course stopped for the obligatory perspective photos. As you can see, they are harder to create than it looks!

Because it rained a lot last night, there were also parts of the Salar that had flooded. This means we could see the beautiful “mirror effect”! Another photoshoot ensued…

Empty salt flats with mirror effect
Our jeep (about to break down) on the watery salt flats
Jenk doing a handstand in the water

We then drove towards the original salt hotel, completely built with salt blocks (Hotel Playa Blanca). This is where Jos stayed last time. Unfortunately, the jeep broke down after another half hour driving on the salar. After the longest 20 minutes of our lives, the car was fixed and we could move on.

We found the Dutch flag among flags from the whole world in front of the salt hotel
Inside the original salt hotel

Near the salt hotel is also the Dakar salt statue which was nice to see.

From there, we made a final stop at the edge of the Salar to see the “Salt Flat eyes”. They are small pools where water from an underground river bubbles up through the salt.

Ojos del Salar

We said our goodbyes to the salt flat, and after another 15 minutes drive, made it to Colchani. We stopped shortly for some souvenirs for whomever wanted them, and made our way to the Train Cemetary. This is an impressive place where old trains were left behind when the routes changed.

Jos at the train cemetary
Jenk at the train cemetary

We had a final group lunch in Uyuni (with grilled meat even!), and then the 3 days were already over. We’ve had a lot of fun and saw great sights in the last days. Now it’s onwards to Cusco via La Paz!

One thought on “Bolivia: Salar de Uyuni

  1. Those perspective shots looked fun and you lucked out with the rain. Some of those pictures definitely looked like another planet. I hope you enjoyed it. This is a place I definitely want to see, but it is an expensive visa for me. We are traveling around the world later this year into next and will be going through Chile. I’m just trying to justify the extra expense to cross that border as an American ($160 per person). Thanks for posting this.


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