A visit to Bolivia is not complete without a visit to the city of Uyuni where everyone goes to because of Salar de Uyuni or the Uyuni Salt Flats, the world’s largest salt flat.
Our tour to the salt flats started with a stop at the Train Cemetery. We drove to the cemetery, just a little outside of the city in 4x4s. Our guide told us that apparently one of the trains there was robbed by Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kidd. He also told us that the trains were soon going to be taken away and put into a museum.
I actually enjoyed the visit. You can climb onto the trains, on top or inside or anywhere. There are also swings attached onto some of the trains.
Next, we drove to a small village where they produce and package the salt from the salt flats. You can buy a small bag of salt to take home.
This is one of the houses in the village.
After looking at some souvenirs that the village sold, we got into the 4×4 again and drove towards the salt flats, where workers were shoveling the salt into piles. We were warned not to step on the piles because it takes a lot of physical labor for the workers.
This is the 4×4:
We drove for a long time, maybe an hour or so, in the 4×4 with the same scene of the blue sky and white salt. Then almost out of nowhere, appeared this ‘island’ called Isla Incahuasi. There’s so many cacti on the island and you can hike to the top. This is also where we had lunch. There were a lot of tourist there:
After our meal of pasta, salad, chicken and potatoes, it was back into the 4×4. Now it was time to do what everyone goes to Salar de Uyuni for, take pictures! But not just any pictures. Because the salt flats are so vast and the white salt just seems to go on forever, if you take a picture correctly, you can capture some pretty cool optical illusion type of pictures.
It was actually hard to get the picture right. Fortunately some people in our overland tour group seemed to be experts. Here I am ‘kicking’ a dinosaur:
Because the area is so white and because we were in high altitude, the sun’s rays were so intense. Sunglasses are a must! Also, I was told to wear bright colors so it would stand out in pictures. I had a yellow shirt with me and someone in our group let me borrow their cool colorful pants.
After almost two hours of pictures, we made our way back to Uyuni. But before going to Uyuni, we stopped at Palacio de Sal, a hotel made out of salt. It looked like it was just being used as a rest stop.
Outside were several flags of the world. Interestingly, there was no American flag!
Back in Uyuni, we had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. We were told the pizza was really good. Pizza seems to be the national food of Bolivia! There are so many pizzerias in Tupiza, where we spent our first night in Bolivia. And there’s also a lot in the capital city, La Paz.
We got two pizzas, one was margarita and the other, llama!
The food was the only good thing about the hotel. We visited in winter and it was so cold, especially at night. Out of our group, the room that my brother and I shared was the only room with a heater. Except it really wasn’t effective. It was on the wall hanging like a picture frame. Our room had three beds and even with the blankets I took from the extra bed, it was freezing!
In Uyuni is where I learned to really appreciate the things I used to think was just normal for everyone to have. It was so cold, we didn’t have a heater and to top that off, we only had cold water for showers! Oh and they told us there was WiFi but it didn’t work…
Visiting Salar de Uyuni will stay in my memories forever, and so will our hotel experience.