Visiting Salar de Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia


Amid freezing cold showers, a string of depressing breakfasts, dizzying altitude and interminable bus journeys, visiting Salar de Uyuni saves the day

After four months in South America came Bolivia, the biggest test but brightest triumph of the continent so far. After 10 countries and thousands of miles, it was the first place that made me utter those words that cannot be unsaid: I want to go home.

Maybe it was the freezing cold showers in Isla Del Sol, or the no water at all in Copacabana. Maybe it was the unbroken string of depressing breakfasts or over-cheesed dinners that were bland-on-bland. Perhaps it was the 3,600m altitude that left me breathless, or the interminable bus journeys that left me fatigued. Either way, Bolivia and I were not getting along.

Visiting Salar de Uyuni

And, then, as easy as surrendering to Stockholm syndrome, I was converted. It took only one day and there I was, dreamy eyed and smiling, singing gospel about the beauty of Bolivia. It was of course visiting Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia’s famous salt flats, that won my affections.

We debated whether to take a 1-, 2- or 3-day tour, and eventually decided on only one. The day started with a 10.30 pickup from Oasis Bolivia’s offices in Uyuni. We were joined by five other tourists in a roomy 4×4 and set off to the Train Cemetery, a stretch of desert land occupied by a number of old mining trains standing stationary on a railway line.

The railway was constructed in 1892 and was used to transport minerals but fell to waste when the mining industry collapsed in 1940, partly due to the mineral depletion. Many trains were abandoned in the area and sit there today giving way to rust and erosion.

Sharing an embrace on the Salar de Uyuni salt flats

After the Train Cemetery we stopped briefly at Colchani, a gateway town filled with handicrafts carved from salt, and then headed to the main attraction. Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flats, spanning 10,582 square kilometres and containing an estimated 10 billion tonnes of salt.

The flats were formed from what was originally Lake Minchin, a giant prehistoric lake. The lake largely evaporated under the scorching Andean sun leaving behind a thick crust of salt – what we know today as the salt flats of Salar de Uyuni.

The result is stunning, breathtaking, every superlative I can throw your way. Miles and miles of pure white terrain are almost blinding in their beauty. The flats provide the perfect backdrop for any photographer. We of course took the opportunity to take a silly picture or two.

Autor: Kia
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