Monday, June 10, 2013

Trip to Uyuni (May 30th - June 1st, 2013)

From San Pedro we wanted to continue to Bolivia to see Salar de Uyuni. The most straightforward option for us was to book a trip with a local travel agency, which provided transportation, accommodation,  food and generally everything we needed.

We, along with three other people, were picked by a large bus at around 08:00. First, we were driven inside San Pedro to the immigration office. There we officially left Chile and got our passports stamped. The next stop was, surprisingly, still in San Pedro. We got a nice breakfast in a building next to our hostel. From there we finally drove to the mountains, where we officially entered Bolivia.

We changed from a big bus to an old Toyota, which we shared with two girls from Switzerland and one from Japan. Together with our driver Sebastian we began our explorations of Bolivia.

Laura in front of our car

We started at Lagunas Blanca and Verde. The most interesting fact about these lakes is that Laguna Blanca has fresh water, but Laguna Verde salty water. Our driver used to drive members of NASA when they were researching the lakes and surrounding volcanoes. He claimed that Laguna Verde is connected with the ocean and is effected by tides.

Laguna Blanca

Laguna Verde was not green as it was partially frozen

After seeing the lakes we were a bit cold, so a half an hour in thermal water made us feel really good. Unfortunately, the water made me so relaxed that I forgot my swimming pants somewhere next to the pool.

The water was very enjoyable

The next stop were the geysers Sol de Mañana. I actually found these geysers much more impressive than geysers El Tatio, but I still found Yellowstone cooler. Probably because we were driven to Sol de Mañana, we did not feel particularly strange, even though we were higher than Mt. Blanc.

Geyser Sol de Mañana

From the geysers we drove down to Laguna Colorado. Here we first enjoyed a late lunch and then did a small hike from our hostel to a viewpoint. This was a small building with big windows and that nicely protected us from the wind.

Laguna Colorado

I was not feeling very good, so I went to sleep early. The next day after breakfast we started with Árbol de Piedra. Those who understand Spanish could think that this was a tree which became stone. Actually it was exactly the opposite. Árbol de Piedra was always a stone and wind just formed it into the shape of tree.

Our group in front of Árbol de Piedra

Our next stop was Laguna Kollpa. This lake did not have almost any water, but it contained a lot of natural detergent. It was surrounded by small pools where people used to wash theirs clothes.

Laguna Kollpa

After that we had a long drive. During the drive we managed to stop for a lunch and drove through one valley full of llamas. We made couple of stops to take pictures of these beautiful animals.
The ribbons are used to identifying whom the llama belongs to.

Two llamas

Our next stop was the abandoned town of Julaca. I found this place fascinating; I felt like in an old western.

This railroad is actually actively used

Abandoned train in Julaca
In the evening we arrived to the edge of Salar de Uyuni, where we stayed in a hotel made out of salt.

Early breakfast at a table made from salt

We woke up early to be able to see the sunrise at Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni salt flat), and it was completely worth it.

Colors were just magical and shadows super long

Radek and Laura stopping the sun from rising

The salt flat, like a sea, has islands. We made a stop at one of them and climbed to the top. This island had  many coral formations and ancient cacti.


Laura on the top

The next two stops were a hotel in the middle of the Uyuni salt flat, and a place where salt is harvested, but I did not find these places very interesting. What was actually more interesting was that we saw some cars speeding past us, choosing the route for the Dakar Rally. The race will take place in South America, including Bolivia in January 2014.

Our trip ended at the train cemetery in Uyuni, which has become quite a nice tourists attraction.

On top of an old engine

Old engine transformed into a swing
We spent one night in Uyuni and the next day took a bus to Potosí. Pictures are, as usually, available here.


  1. To je relax, ztratit plavky v termálech v horách ... doufám, že jsi tam, Radu, nebudil pohoršení! Zdokonaluju se v překládání a v duchu cestuji s vámi. Zdárné pokračování a spoustu nových zážitků přeje Věra - já už vím, že vám bude špatně, tak se o tom moc nerozepisujte.

  2. One more remark concerning the Uyuni salt flat. It is huge! At approx. 11000 square km, its area is about 1/4th that of Estonia. Nonetheless, because its surrounded by mountains, it is possible to see from one end to the other.

  3. Great to ready your diary. It must be lovely to see all these interesting places. Enjoy it :-) Lenka