Salar de Uyuni and the Southwest Circuit

Our three day trip started with a slightly odd stop at a train graveyard followed by a more interesting visit to a small town selling salt products, after which we headed to Salar de Uyuni itself (the biggest salt flat). Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do the usual trip out all the way across the flat due to flooding. We had a lot of fun anyway on the accessible part (see photos!), though it was disappointing not to see some of the more famous sights.

Next, our jeep of seven headed south across dusty, barren deserts and passed snow capped mountains (snow and desert seeming an odd combination) en route to stay in a hostel made almost entirely of salt. There were storms to the east as we drove and we saw spectacular flashes of lightning as our jeep bounced along to the sounds of Bob Marley and Coldplay. Next morning, we went to visit a pre-Inca burial site. It was eerie looking into the tombs to see 800 year old mummies staring back at us – they’re all placed into a foetal position for reincarnation.

Continuing on towards our second night’s more basic hostel (no showers, no heating, limited electricity, roof held down with stones, sellotape-mended windows… but a better quantity of food than the previous night) we passed stunning scenery – orange, snow-capped peaks, lakes of red, white and blue – many with flamingoes – amongst miles of desolate rocks and sands, fields of quinoa, strange Salvador Dali-like stone formations all set against impossibly blue skies. It was beautiful in a way we’ve never seen before.

It was well worth braving the cold at 5am on the third day to go and see sunrise at the geysers. We soon warmed up with a jump into hot pools before breakfast, having peeled off our many layers of thermals, fleeces, down jackets and waterproofs and got our togs on. After visiting a few more stunning lakes, three of the group were dropped off at the Chilean border whilst the rest of us headed the seven hours back to Uyuni. We’d hoped to book onto an overnight bus to La Paz (Bolivia’s capital) a few hours later, but unfortunately all of the bus companies were booked so we had to settle for the following night instead.

More photos here.




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