Uyuni is located just over 500km south of La Paz (Bolivias’ bustling capital - GO THERE!) and according to google takes 7 hours to get there… don’t trust google! This trip is epic, it’s closer to 10 hours, its’ often run through the middle of the night, on a bus that’s colder than an Eskimos outhouse, on a road so bumpy, it will shatter your frozen bones… when the travel agent offers you a good price to fly, take it! At the end of the day this is what travel is all about and as much as I carry on, it was worth every second to see this incredible part of the world!
Now more about the Uyuni and the Salt Flat tour-
The town of Uyuni is pretty small and quiet, you’re in the middle of the desert so picture dusty roads and not many options for food and drink! Like a lot of tours anywhere in the world, you can more often than not score a waaay better deal by organising it on the ground, not with a booking agent or online. With a quick search of the internet (found the names of the top 3 agencies), followed by a little bit of friendly negotiating, we found ourselves on a tour the very next day at an awesome price. There is a word of warning when it comes to which tour operator to go with - there is usually a few cars from each tour agency in a convoy and they love to have a drink or 10 together, sometimes during the day (which we saw happening with another group following us), so make sure you find yourself a more reputable company if you can, to avoid finding yourself flooring it across the desert in an unstable 4WD!
We took a 3-day tour, which took us much further than just the salt flats, into some of the most dramatic places on earth! More about the experience further down!
Another important note on the tour, ITS SO BLOODY COLD, I’m talking below freezing, like ice on the ground, so pack warm, really bloody warm (add those fat socks to the birkenstocks)! But also pack some shorts, the start of the first day and end of the last day when your closer to the outskirts of the main desert, can start to get a little warmer when the sun is out.
Finally, before you head off on your amazing adventure, make sure you head just a few minutes out of town to the train graveyard (some tours take you here as the first stop, so check first). Here you will find some beautiful old rusty relics from the steam train era with some pretty decent graffiti plastered all over them!
READ ON AND ENJOY THE PHOTOS!
After some time exploring the train graveyard and a short drive you’ll find yourself standing on the the blinding white salt that makes up the Salar de Uyuni, a once expansive inland ocean of close to 11,000km2. The salt is still harvested today and the local government has placed restrictions over its’ harvesting, allowing permits to locals only. The salt flats are best visited in the wet season, with a thin layer of water covering the salt, creating an almost perfect mirror effect. We were here during the dry season which kinda of took away a bit of the magic, but meant that we got to see the harvesting of the salt, either way its beautiful so don’t fret! Once you finish up playing around on the salt, you have some morning tea at a now abandoned hotel made entirely of bricks of solid salt (apparently is was abandoned due to a high level of toxins found in the salt and was unsuitable for human occupation!)