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.
It was amazing. Salt as far as the eye can see.
30% of Bolivia’s salt is from the Salar de Uyuni. The other 70% is from another, less famous Bolivian salt flat.
We had to take a big truck out there.
The wheels aren’t covered with ice. Instead, they’re covered with a layer of salt.
There was even a museum with statues and creatures made out of salt.
We even stopped by a train cemetery.
This is NOT life!
While I love sarcasm, I’m not sure an experienced mechanic would have been able to help these abandoned trains…
When you’re in a magical place, perspective is a beautiful thing.
I’m the strongest woman alive!
We fought off a number of dinosaurs.
I think we did pretty well for ourselves.
The salar is quite international. Do you see your country’s flag?
Then we went to the salt lake. Do I look like I’m walking on water?
I attempted some salt flat yoga. It was hard. My feet hurt from all the pointy salt.
We shared a truck with some hilarious Japanese tourists.
It took about 15 tries to get this photo. But we were so happy.
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.
The roof of our room was made of salt cubes.
We watched the sunset from the hotel’s deck.
On 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.
Sigh. Next time, maybe.
We did get to see many llamas, alpacas, and sheep though! This lady was herding a whole bunch of them.
They were so adorable.
We also visited some caves and saw human and animal remains.
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.This was a huge abandoned dwelling.
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.Here it is again, the sheet of white. Amazing, isn’t it?
We stopped by some hot springs where people were enjoying the pool or washing their clothes.
Finally, we went to Pulacayo, an old silver mining town. This is the location of the first railroad to ever reach Bolivia.
Nowadays, Pulacayo is a ghost town, abandoned. Nobody mines there anymore.
So what do you think? Will you be off to Salar de Uyuni any time soon?