Salar de Uyuni - Playing on the Salt Flats

Published: December 28th 2008
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Day 624 (13.12.08)

Feeling suprisingly sprightly after the festivities of the night before we loaded the jeep for the last time all the while keeping our eyes on the ever changing colours in the sky as the light grew before the sun peeped over the horizon.

After the last three days of incredible, otherworldly landscapes we had reached the main focus of the trip, the vast salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni and they weren't to disapoint. At over 2000 square km the crisp whiteness of the salt stretches almost as far as the eye can see and as we waited for the sun to rise we raced across the flats with not another soul in sight.

Exactly when Emilio had said it would the sun made its first appearance as a small burning glimmer casting our long thin shadows far into the opposite direction. Cast in pinks and purples the already spectacular Salar looked almost mystical with the sun ascending on one side of us and the moon still high in the sky on the other. It was a sight we'll never forget.

With the sun now firmly in the sky we continued our drive across the flats until we reached the Isla Del Pescado rising out of nowhere from the salt. Once underwater this island is now covered in towering cacti whose spines glowed like halos in the early morning light.

We took a walk around the island marvelling at the huge cacti (including one over 12m and 1000 years old) and wandering through the coral cave, a natural arch right in the centre of the island.

Back at the jeep it was breakfast time before we wandered out onto the cracked surface of the flats to take some pictures. With nothing but salt for miles around you can play some amusing tricks with perspective and we had a lot of fun designing our photos!

After a few more stops on the flats we reached the edge where salt harvesting was taking place. After so many kilometres of empty landcscapes it seemed odd to see trucks and machinery covering the blankness.

We lunched at another salt built building right on the edge of the flats and before we knew it were in the town of Uyuni. We said goodbye to James here as he was heading towards Chile while the rest of us were going back to Tupiza. Emilio was staying in Uyuni so after a quick wander around the town we hopped into another jeep with Nilda and another guiding team and began the journey back which would complete our circuit. Our new driver tended to stop every hour or so for a beer or some other random reason so we were glad when we finally got back into Tupiza late in the evening.

Dropped off at the office of Gran del Oro we thanked then profusely for what had been a fantastic and well organised trip. We went back to the hostel we'd used before and with Tess popped to the bus station to book a bus for the next morning. Haydn wanted a lie in and would catch a later bus.

We finished the evening off with a good pizza and collapsed into bed exhausted after our four days of adventure in the wilds of Bolivia!

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