2 days in Salar de Uyuni — Bolivia’s famous salt flats


This year, I went to Bolivia for spring break. We were there for 10 days. The majority of my trip was to volunteer with the Highlands Bolivia Mission as a medical student, but I was able to take a few days to travel to Bolivia’s most renowned landmark: the Salar de Uyuni. Situated at approximately 12,000 ft above sea level and spanning over 4,000 square miles, the Salar is easily one of the most unique places I have ever visited.

It took us a full day of travel to get to the Salar. We took a plane from Santa Cruz (where we were based) to Sucre, one of Bolivia’s 2 capitals (more on that in a future post). From there, we took a 3 hour cab ride to Potosi, the self proclaimed highest city in the world. Finally, we boarded a bus around 8 pm which got us to Uyuni at 12:30 am. After spending the night in the dinkiest (read: grossest) hostel ever, we headed out to see this.

DSC00629

It was amazing. Salt as far as the eye can see.

DSC00635

30% of Bolivia’s salt is from the Salar de Uyuni. The other 70% is from another, less famous Bolivian salt flat.

DSC00623
DSC00604DSC00620

We had to take a big truck out there.

DSC00677

The wheels aren’t covered with ice. Instead, they’re covered with a layer of salt.

DSC00675

There was even a museum with statues and creatures made out of salt.

DSC00596

We even stopped by a train cemetery.

DSC00586

This is NOT life!

DSC00575

While I love sarcasm, I’m not sure an experienced mechanic would have been able to help these abandoned trains…DSC00576DSC00572

When you’re in a magical place, perspective is a beautiful thing.

DSC00692

I’m the strongest woman alive!

DSC00665

We fought off a number of dinosaurs.

DSC00686

I think we did pretty well for ourselves.

DSC00689

The salar is quite international. Do you see your country’s flag?

DSC00657

Then we went to the salt lake. Do I look like I’m walking on water?

DSC00740

DSC00717

I attempted some salt flat yoga. It was hard. My feet hurt from all the pointy salt.

DSC00711

We shared a truck with some hilarious Japanese tourists.

DSC00715

It took about 15 tries to get this photo. But we were so happy.

DSC00737

Then the day was over. We had booked rooms in the Palacio de Sal. A salt palace hotel. It was expensive, but worth every penny as the entire hotel was made of salt. Salt beds, salt tables, salt chairs, you get the point. It was luxurious. A once in a lifetime opportunity.

DSC00753

The roof of our room was made of salt cubes.

DSC00752DSC00792DSC00793

We watched the sunset from the hotel’s deck.

DSC00761DSC00754On the second day of the tour we wanted to see some wildlife. In particular, I wanted to see the flamingos! Every November, Salar de Uyuni is the breeding ground for three species of pink South American flamingos.

We only saw one. And he flew away from us.

DSC00812

Sigh. Next time, maybe.

We did get to see many llamas, alpacas, and sheep though! This lady was herding a whole bunch of them.
DSC00838 DSC00834

They were so adorable.

DSC00824

DSC00830

DSC00833

We also visited some caves and saw human and animal remains.

DSC00798DSC00796DSC00795

I made a friend. Mr. Cactus, who is approximately my height of 1.60meters, is ~160 years old. Every centimeter high is a year of life for him.DSC00799This was a huge abandoned dwelling.

DSC00803DSC00806

While we were up on the hill, we were able to see far into the distance. The picture below is one of my favorites. You see the blue sky on the top, but then there’s a sheet of white. That white is the salt. The brown stuff is the desert leading up to the salt flats.DSC00805Here it is again, the sheet of white. Amazing, isn’t it?

DSC00811

We stopped by some hot springs where people were enjoying the pool or washing their clothes.
DSC00854

Finally, we went to Pulacayo, an old silver mining town. This is the location of the first railroad to ever reach Bolivia.

DSC00845Nowadays, Pulacayo is a ghost town, abandoned. Nobody mines there anymore. 
DSC00843 DSC00847 DSC00850

So what do you think? Will you be off to Salar de Uyuni any time soon?

Tagged , , , , , , ,

One thought on “2 days in Salar de Uyuni — Bolivia’s famous salt flats

  1. i have been looking for something about the salar in google so i am glad that i found you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: