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.
We then drove north towards Salvador Dali Desert.
From there, we went to the Polques Hot Spring. It was so nice to relax in the warm waters while enjoying the beautiful views.
We then made it to the Geysers of Morning Sun, at 5000 meters. This was also the highest point of our trip.
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.
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…
The next morning, we started by visiting the Valley of the rocks. Here you can see rocks in shapes like a world cup!
We then made a stop at a scenic lake with lots of llamas.
Our next stop was the Black Lagoon. It’s surrounded by beautiful rock formations which housed lots of vizcachas (rabbits with long tails).
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.
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.
Finally it was time for the Salar! We drove through hours of landscapes just as the one below.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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!