The Stunning Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

The Stunning Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

In Bolivia, transcendent landscapes that could effortlessly take your breath away are not uncommon. The nation, known for its colourful history, diverse wildlife, vibrant culture, and scenic views, is a haven for anyone with a heart for nature and adventure.

The town of Uyuni

The remote town of Uyuni, surrounded by a dessert-like landscape, is tucked in a desolate corner of southwestern Bolivia. It lays quietly on the edge of the Bolivian Altiplano. With an elevation of 3700 meters, familiarising to the altitude is recommended in order to avoid the risk of altitude sickness. Here, the temperature can easily drop below zero at night. But if you are acclimated, spend some time outdoors to appreciate the incredibly clear skies that are perfect for stargazing.

The locals are a stark contrast to the otherwise dry, cold climate of the town. The populace is warm, friendly and welcoming. Despite the cold winds often associated with the town, its cheerful buzz remains as energetic travellers continue to pass through to kick off their tour to the town’s main attraction.

Salar de Uyuni, situated in southern Bolivia, is a tremendously vast expanse of surreal beauty. The striking natural landscape features glistening white flat salt that is spanning over 6,500 miles. The view stretches into all directions.

The Stunning Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

As you explore, you may notice a peculiar island covered in giant cacti in the middle of the salt flats. Known as Isla Incahuasi, the once submerged piece of land is now home to hundreds of cacti. Hike between these succulent plant forms up to the hill for an amazing view.

The Stunning Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

A Giant Mirror

The Stunning Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

The story behind the geological wonder is quite fascinating. The Salar was once a part of the prehistoric Lake Minchin, which is said to have emerged from glacial meltwater. When the giant saltwater lake evaporated from the heat, it left behind two modern lakes namely Poopó and Uru Uru. It also brought to life two major salt desserts—Salar de Coipasa and the famous Salar de Uyuni.

Born out of dried up ancient lakes, the spectacular landscape of Salar de Uyuni is now considered as the largest salt flat in the world. Imagine an immense piece of land covered with blanched white salt that is so flat that when covered with a thin layer of water, it easily bends perspective.

This natural phenomenon happens every year and brings out the beauty of the salt flats even more. During the wet season, the neighbouring Lake Titicaca overflows to Lake Poopó that then floods the two surrounding desert salt flats. As soon as this happens, the Salar de Uyuni turns into a large mirror reflecting the skies. The view is what many would consider equal parts otherworldly and surreal.

Tips in Touring Salar de Uyuni

  • An ideal way to explore the salt flats is by taking a 4X4 tour. The environment of Salar de Uyuni is not the friendliest for vehicles. Hiring drivers that are already accustomed to the conditions of the area and adept at addressing vehicular problems should you encounter any is recommended. It will give you more peace of mind as you enjoy the majestic view.
  • The temperature at night can be unforgiving. But so is the sun during daytime in the Bolivian Altiplano. Pack the right garments especially if you are taking the multi-day tours. Bring sunglasses, sunscreen and hats to protect you from the heat. And gloves, thermal clothing, scarf, and thick socks to brave the cold.
  • Uyuni is quite remote so electrical power sources are far and few in between. Bring extra batteries and power bank for your digital devices.
  • Do not attempt to cross the dessert without any expert advice.
  • Keep an eye on your luggage when you are taking the public bus from the town.
  • In winter, be extra careful in choosing a place to stay. Ensure that your room has a heater to keep you warm at night. Avoid old gas heaters, as these tend to release harmful gas that could affect your health.
  • If you rented out a car, don’t scrimp and find a paid, secured car park.
  • Admittedly, there is not much to see in Uyuni. But it is worth exploring on foot as most of the must-see spots are walkable.
  • The town was once a busy railway hub. However, the demand for the rail hub went down along with the mining industry in the 1940s. Today, tourists can explore the train cemetery where the abandoned trains lay. Don’t forget to include this in your itinerary for a glimpse of Uyuni’s transportation history.
  • The ATM in the area runs out of cash during the weekends. Bring enough cash to cover all your expenses during the tour.

Ready to go on an adventure?

CLB Global Travel can arrange an all-inclusive package for you. Call us at +44(0) 748 470 3647, email us at [email protected] or explore our latest promotions on our website. We specialize in Far East Travel but can assist with your trip anywhere you wish to go.

About the Author Charles

Charles is a world traveler having lived in 44 states and 11 countries and traveled to dozens more. He and his wife spend time between London, Ireland, Canada, and the Philippines.

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