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Published: April 21st 2015
Playing with perspective on the Salar de Uyuni
We left the mountain town of Tupiza in a 4 x 4 Toyota Landcruiser with Felix (our driver and guide), Lydia (our cook) and a Belgian couple (Guillaume and Laura) and headed off into the remote and scenically spectacular south west corner of Bolivia. We spent the next four days driving to some of the country’s most amazing places, lakes of green, blue and red, volcanic rock formations and deserts, all with a giant backdrop of snow-capped peaks and colour-painted mountain ranges. We enjoyed watching vicuñas, llamas and sheep in the nearby scrublands. We were amazed to learn about and see the many flamingos that frequent the lakes to eat the algae in the cold temps of the season. The trip was incredible and the highlights were plentiful.
Most of the trip was above 4000 metres in the Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andino Eduardo Avaroa and our accommodations were simple but nice and clean. One of our sleeps was spent at a hostel in Huaylla Jara, a village at an elevation of more than 4800 metres (3 miles) above sea level. With that kind of elevation came cold temperatures (dropping to below freezing at night) and lack of oxygen. Despite
A small mountain town in southern Bolivia
extra sleeping bags (which were made for short Bolivianos) we were all challenged to a proper night’s sleep as the room had no heating, and again, not a ton of air. But the lack of sleep was quickly forgotten as we oooh-ed and awe-ed at the amazing and breathtaking (double entendre) scenery the following days.
An interesting highlight was our stay at a hostel made of mineral salts from the nearby salt flats, the Salar de Uyuni. The floor was made of crystals of salt and our walls, beds, tables and chairs were all made of salt bricks and salt platforms. It was a very peculiar place to stay, indeed, we felt rather dry in the morning! One little critter worth mentioning was the squished scorpion in the bathroom that evening. Because we had dropped to an elevation of a mere 3660 metres, we now had to be aware of insects again. Shake those boots before putting them on!
The Uyuni salt flat was an amazing end to the four day expedition. It certainly lives up to its reputation as an otherworldly place. We particularly revelled at the horizon mirages that the salt flats created. In other words,
Erosion from rain carves out this surreal valley of sculptures.
the horizon disappeared into a strange nothingness - the only thing remaining was the odd mountain and its bizarre reflection into the white expanse of salt.
The south west corner of Bolivia is very sparsely populated and the few who do live in this harsh and remote region survive mainly on subsistence farming, the main crop being quinoa. As the terrain flattened out nearer the salt flats we saw a lot of quinoa fields, all of which were planted and harvested by hand. The stripes of yellow, green and red quinoa fields really added a delightful splash of colour to the already spectacular landscapes.
We were dropped off in the forlornly dusty and perpetually cold and windy town of Uyuni, and from there we were on our own again…
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