After a more than 3-hour bus ride from Potosi, we finally arrived at Uyuni at 11pm. As soon as we got out of the bus, a few people from different travel agencies tried to convince us to book Salar de Uyuni tours with them. We were not easily convinced and decided to go to one of the main avenues “Avenida Ferroviaria” of Uyuni where most of the hostels, hotels and travel agencies are located. One of the travel agencies was still open, it’s called “Uyuni Tours” and the place seemed pretty legitimate, even with good Trip Advisor reviews.
Jose and I ended up booking the 2-day tour for 800 bolivianos. It included transportation, food, accommodation for one night and the tour of Salar de Uyuni, Cementerio de Trenes and Tunupa Volcano. There are many hostel options around and we stayed at “Hotel Avenida”, a decent hotel that is next door from the travel agencies.
The tour started at the next day at 10am. We boarded a Toyota Land Cruiser with 5 more people who were part of our tour. A French and Australian couple and a Peruvian guide who was training in Bolivia. The first stop was at Cementerio de Trenes, a place of 19th century abandoned steam locomotives and trains.
Afterwards, we started entering the Salt Flat, the largest in the world and at the beginning you can see small mountains of salt production where large amount of lithiums and sodiums will be extracted. As you ride on the jeep, it seems like a never ending white desert. We stopped to take a few pictures of this beautiful place that makes you feel tiny yet lucky to witness this wonder and to be alive.
The salt hotel “Playa Blanca” was the next stop where we had lunch cooked by our tour guide. It’s also a good place to rest and use the bathroom. This hotel was built with salt and outside of it, there are flags of countries around the world and a huge monument of the Dakar rally since Uyuni was part of the route.
After an hour or so of driving, we arrived in Atulcha. In this small and remote town, we spent the night. There was time to visit a small arqueological museum, located inside caves where you can see mummies in their original poses of past civilizations that used to live there.
The next day we woke up at 5am in order to see the sunrise from “Isla del Pescado”, somewhere in the middle of the salt flats of Uyuni. I can honestly say that this was one the best experiences from this trip. It was just breathtaking to witness the sun slowly coming up in the middle of Salar. It was a moment of total distraction and peace, surrounded by natural beauty.
The final stop of the tour was at Volcan Tunupa. At an elevation of more than 5300 m, this colorful volcano will reward you with an amazing view of Salar de Uyuni. It’s a relatively easy climb, at least to the point where the tour guide allows you to. Good hiking shoes for the entire tour is a plus!
After spending 2 days riding through this majestic place and making good friends, we were able to experience one of the greatest places not only in Bolivia but in South America as well. Salar de Uyuni is definitely worth visiting and I’m sure that I will be back one day but not yet, not yet…
Next stop: Cayambe Volcano.