One of the main sights to see in Bolivia (perhaps all of South America for that matter) is the Salar de Uyuni. Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat at 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi) and is considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of South America.
As part of the Andes, the Salt Flats are located at 3,656m (11,995ft) above sea level. They were created from the transformation of several lakes and account for 50-70% of the world’s lithium reserves. We decided to do a four-day tour from Tupiza with our friends, Sam and Romain, that we met during our WWOOF experience. The four-day tour from Tupiza would end up in Uyuni and the last day of our tour would be our visit to the Salar – the main event!
We loaded up into our SUV home for the next four days and took off. Our driver drove like he was playing Mario Kart on a course like Rainbow Road, as we were flying around turns with steep drops and no guardrails. At first, it made me incredibly nervous, as we don’t have one of those little flying turtles to pick us up and put us back if our car goes over, so I tried to just focus on the incredible scenery.
I’m not sure if it was his Mario Andretti style driving, but towards the end of our first day of driving, as we’re in the midst of the cold mountains of Bolivia, we lost our back left tire. We didn’t get a flat; the actual whole tire flew off the car. To make things more interesting, it was pitch-black dark, freezing cold and we were the last car of our group by a while. Plus, our stop for the night (along with our dinner) was an hour and a half away. Oh, and there was zero cell coverage to call for any help. All ended well though. Wilson, armed with a shovel and a jack, lifted the car up, dug enough to get the tire back on and eventually we were rolling again. This time, at a much more preferable pace.
The landscapes in Bolivia are unreal! Hopefully the pictures can do it some justice. It’s amazing that we can be playing in the snow one minute and thirty minutes later, be looking at a dry, arid landscapes lined with rock formations.
Bolivia is also a lot colder than I anticipated. I suppose it just never crossed my mind just how mountainous and high altitude most of the country is and the cold that comes along with those factors. The one thing I don’t have much of (actually, hardly any) is warm, winter clothing. I was pretty much wearing everything I had packed that was warm for a few days in a row.
Driving through the snowy mountains did kind of make me wish I had my ski clothes and could hit the slopes for an afternoon. Then again, since it’s summer in South America, the cold made me want to race back to the beach and work on my tan. Oh, and my fav, fav, fav were all the llamas (which is why they are featured in a ton of pics)!
The final day, we visited the grand finale…the Salar. It was incredible beauty and a true wonder of nature to see in person. We got to the Salar pre-sunrise so that we could watch the sunrise. Afterwards, we enjoyed breakfast at the Salt Hotel before heading out in the Salar to take as many trick photos as possible in a few hours. The only downfall was that it’s rainy season so the Salar was pretty wet and in some spots totally covered with water. The water made it a bit trickier to do some of the photos, but we made due as best we could. There are some ‘behind the scenes’ photos that I’ve also included.
For anyone traveling to Bolivia, I HIGHLY recommend a four day tour from Tupiza up to Uyuni for the Salar Tour. This way, you’re seeing the main event last and the rest of the spectacular scenery is a pretty special buildup.