Backpacking Bolivia: Part Two (Salar de Uyuni)
We just got back from our epic trip to Salar de Uyuni. These salt flats are the largest in the world at more than 4,ooo square feet. We spent three days and two nights traversing the many landscapes in this region in a Toyota 4x4. We used Perla de Bolivia, a company recommended to us by our hostel in La Paz and we were not disappointed.
Just a quick note: I'm not going to be nearly as wordy as I normally am. There were so many details given to us about how these land forms were created, legends behind them and so on. I've forgotten as much as I remember. So there will be a ton of photos and let's be real, y'all are just here for the photos anyway.
Friday, July 6th
We arrived in Uyuni around 8AM after taking the night bus from La Paz. Our tour didn't start until 10AM, so we hung in a local coffee shop and prepped ourselves for the tour.
We were so lucky with our group. We had a group of eight, so we took two cars. We each had four in each car which was a dream! Usually each car has six people and it's super cramped so we felt #blessed to have some extra leg room. We also really enjoyed our tour group members, which makes all the difference on a group tour!
We hopped in the 4x4 with our two car-mates (two sweet Brits named Abbie and Ez) and headed off to the Salt Flats!
Our first stop was the Train Cemetery were trains that were once used are now abandoned and adults climb all over them to take photos.
Next, we stopped at a little town right outside of the salt flats. Our tour guide explained to us that this town collects, processes, and sells the salt from the flats.
We finally arrived to the Salt Flats and began exploring immediately!
Due to the vast nothingness of the salt flats, taking perspective photos is very popular! Our guide helped us take some really awesome ones!
After seeing the stunning sunset over the salt flats, we headed to our first hostel for the night. It was a beautiful place made of salt! Even the ground was covered in salt.
Saturday, July 7th
We woke up to a very chilly morning but ate our breakfast and headed on for our 2nd day of adventuring!
Our first stop along the way was to a spot covered in petrified coral fossils. It is said that this area of the salt flats was once a very large lake, hence the coral.
Next up we stopped at an abdoned railroad. It was abdoned because Bolivia didn't have the natural resources to power the train.
We then spent the majority of our day driving to different lagoons. We saw three lagoons, some with flamingos! Usually you can see thousands of flamingos at some of these lagoons but we were only able to see some.
Next up we headed to some very active (and very stinky) geysers. These geysers do not explode into the air like others but some of them can reach temperatures of 180 degrees Celsius or 356 degrees Fahrenheit!
After seeing and smelling the geysers, we headed to our second hostel. This hostel was a very basic shared dorm-style hostel. We shared a room with our car-mates Abbie and Ez. The beds were comfortable and had warm blankets but I was still pretty cold.
We had dinner and then hit up the hot springs, which was almost directly in front of our hostel. The springs were natural and were approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit. With it being pretty cold outside (probably around 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit) we were both apprehensive to get into the hot springs knowing that we'd have to get out and that we were probably going to freeze our butts off but we did it anyway and I'm glad we did. It was glorious! Plus, it was so dark out that we could see the stars so clearly. Sitting in a warm, natural hot springs star gazing, what could be better than that?
Sunday, July 8th
Our last day of the tour was filled with lots of driving and a few stops along the way.
Our first stop was to a desert area called Salvador Dali's Desert. It's called this because it looks very similar to some of the deserts Dali paints in his famous works of art.
Our next stop was to the final Green Lagoon and the farthest spot one can drive in Bolivia. The lagoon and the surrounding volcanoes sit on the border between Bolivia and Chile.
Our last big stop was to a place with large rock formations that no one knows how they were formed. They say it was due to volcanic activity, winds, and weather conditions 500,000 years ago that created these formations.
After visiting the rock formations, we drove all the way back to the town of Uyuni where our tour ended.
We had one last dinner with most of the members of our group and then all went our separate ways to continue our traveling adventures!
All in all, this was by far one of the coolest experiences I've had to date. I loved seeing the variety of landscapes (snow covered mountains, lagoons, deserts, rocks, greenery, etc.) in one place. I loved how every time we got in the car, we saw something absolutely stunning. I loved meeting new people and experiencing life on the road.
If you're looking to do Salar de Uyuni and you're on the fence about it, do it.
You'll love it.