Exploring the Beautifully Surreal Uyuni Salar

If you take a 1 day tour of Uyuni Salar, you will indeed visit only the salt flats. However, if you take a 3 day tour, you will see much more of the stunning landscape of southwestern Bolivia: the red and green lakes, feeding flamingoes, eroded rock formations, geysers and hotsprings, gigantic cacti, imposing volcanoes, and more.

The first stop on most tours is usually the train cemetery, where remains of early 20th century trains were abandoned during a mining industry collapse in the 1940s. From there, you head to the Salar de Uyuni, the famous salt flats where travelers like to take photos playing with perspective. Along the way, you stop in Colchani, a tiny town whose coop is the only group permitted to extract salt from the salar.

All tours of the salar stop at what's sometimes known as Incahuasi Island or Fish Island. The ‘islands' are a respite from the sea of salt, but are actually the tops of volcanoes which were once submerged in a giant prehistoric lake and are even today still covered in coral and fossils. Among the giant cacti, which reach up to 40 feet, rabbit-like viscachas make their home. Climbing it offers the opportunity to take photos overlooking the salar, rather than from at ground level. Fish Island has its own US$10 admission which is often not included in tours- make sure to check beforehand whether you will need to bring cash for this or not.

Although most tours visit one of the area Salt Hotels, only a few actually stay there, while others spend the night in homestays in the small town of Chuvica.

In a one day tour, these are all of the activities that you will get a chance to experience, but longer tours offer so much more... The second day's drive will take you across as volcanic desert landscape to a series of colorful lagoons which range from bright red to green. Some of these become home to flocks of feeding flamingos during certain parts of the year. Crossing into Chile, we'll visit the Siloli Desert (considered part of the Atacama) to admire the rock formations of the Valle de las Rocas, where time and wind have eroded volcanic rocks into whimsical shapes.

On the third day, you visit the Morning Sun Geysers, relax in some hotsprings in the Chalvin Desert, and visit the Green Lagoon before returning to Uyuni. Most tours begin and end in the small town of Uyuni, and all travel by jeep 4x4.

The high altitude makes for cold nights and mornings- warm clothing, a hat and gloves, and a warm sleeping bag will vastly improve your trip. Your own personal snacks and drinks are also recommended despite the fact that most tours provide some.

Inca World Team
Publication date: 12 Ago 2014
Sources: <a href=" https://plus.google.com/u/0/107060027985626386869/about?tab=XX?rel=author">Carla Colon</a>

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