The heights and depths often protect some of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet Earth. If to be astonished by the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, you have to compensate the pressure and the latent presence of some of the most deadly sea creatures, to feel in another dimension, the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is to give a little oxygen.
Phtography by DeFries
Bolivian altiplano lakes and the vast sea of Uyuni salt are undoubtedly the natural landscape in which I felt more Mars. The height dull our reflexes, moves us away from gravity, but also of precious oxygen and even with open eyes would not be surprised if we started hopping like Neil Armstrong, because these landscapes do not appear on this planet.
The world’s largest salt lake in Bolivia and its 12,000 km2 stretch to the horizon above the 3,600 meters. This wonder of nature around us to infinity. We are just a tiny being with no reference points. The toy can be large and small on a mountain to climb.
While travelers fun playing with the magic of perspective, it is impossible to escape the feeling that there is no other place like it on Earth, and even doubt we are really on the same planet we used to live.
Phtography by pandrcutts
The area now covers 10 million tons of salt in 11 layers with a total depth of 120 meters, was 40,000 years ago Lake Minchin. This large lake was even larger than the current salt, leading to what are now lakes Uru Uru and Poopó. This magnificent reserve of lithium salt and is a treasure that fortunately has not yet been exploited on a large scale due to the lack of ground water.
To discover the beauty that surrounds the Altiplano Salar de Uyuni, one of the best route is to link a tour in 4 × 4 San Pedro de Atacama in Chile to Uyuni in Bolivia (or vice versa). For the more adventurous, or have special bike, you can also pass on two wheels and face the unknown by one of the driest on the planet. The adventure is assured, and always find another vehicle to our aid if we lose direction.
Choose agency to visit Uyuni:
Both in San Pedro de Atacama (more expensive) and in Uyuni, there are numerous agencies that offer expeditions to this area of the highlands of the Andean Cordillera in one direction as in the other. As always when we have to perform these activities, you should compare prices, services and above all company information with other travelers.
If the starting point is San Pedro, the tourist office has a book in which travelers have long pointed to the recent years, his complaints and recommendations on the various agencies that offer this route. To us it was very useful to take a look to avoid surprises and bad moments, because once initiated the expedition, we will be in the middle of a barren land, without communications and high altitude, where there is no turning back.
Phtography by wallygrom (very busy at work)
The main complaints about the service agencies that offer and we could check are:
The driver-guide. It is common for drunk or lead to abuse of coca leaves, but ours was an example of professionalism and good work.
The condition of the car. Many 4 x 4 are old and are equipped with the necessary equipment for emergencies as basic as changing a wheel. The food It is generally easy, but we can find different qualities.
Phtography by danielpgauer
Accommodation: The night shelters Laguna Colorada is without many amenities, but few have running water and others do not. In general, competition between agencies is hard and the prices are very similar, but that little difference makes often that we have a pleasant and uneventful trip or not.
After comparing and consulting, we opted for the Southern Star Expeditions agency and we just totally pleased with the experience. The price of the route between San Pedro de Atacama and Uyuni is around $ 100 for a 3 days, 4 × 4, room and board included.
The path in the Salar de Uyuni:
Day 1: Departure from San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) early.
Should formalize the procedures for entry into Bolivia, as there are no border crossings later.
Our stop for breakfast coincided with a meeting of the Andean inhabitants of the area, coming from Argentina, Chile and Bolivia to participate in a barter market as his ancestors used to do before the border. So we had the opportunity to participate in a homage to Pacha Mama before getting into the highlands.
The route we discovered Licancabur volcano, lagoon, white rocks Dali (sculpted by the elements with whimsical shapes and named after the painter). And to relax, a bath in hot springs with a truly unique environment.
Arrival at the shelter for the first night. The bedrooms are common. Given that we are at 3,900 feet, sleep is light, but our room had a pleasant accommodation, dinner was delicious and even had running water in the toilets!.
Phtography by ٭ NơƐണí ٭٭
After breakfast it’s time to discover the Laguna Colorada, located within the National Reserve of Fauna Andina Eduardo Abaroa. Water ocher, hundreds of pink flamingos and borax that is heaped on its banks give you a beautiful mirage.
During the route the scenery is still spectacular, the mountains of colors, shades of highland lakes and the famous Tree House returns to the art of wind and water erosion on a whim.
Early in the afternoon we arrived at the Salar de Uyuni and we move into its plain white reflects the sun high. In the midst of the salt, another prodigy, Fish Island (Isla Incahuasi coral), giant cactus covered by up to 10 m tall.
After the ban on building in the salt and the closing of the salt hotels built within its boundaries, it is not possible to spend the night in the salt, but other possibilities have emerged more sustainable and built with blocks of salt in their surroundings. We slept in a nice hotel where everything is less salt bath!
Day 3: Departure to Uyuni, visit the train cemetery and final trip.
Uyuni is a town not particularly beautiful or interesting, but a night’s sleep and a shower are almost inevitable, especially if we can also eat one of the most delicious pizza we had in the Minuteman Restaurant (60 Avenida Uyuni Railway).
In just 3 days, the tour of the Salar de Uyuni and the highlands of Bolivia takes us to another world, an experience so intense it’s hard to forget, even long after returning to other known landscapes.
Phtography by Koala:Bear
Discover Bolivia, a journey of height!