It is a photographers dream and an adventure traveler’s paradise – long off-road 4×4 drives, giant cacti, geysers, train cemeteries, volcano summits, miles and miles of salt. This is Bolivia’s desolate southwestern region.
Here’s why Bold Travel thinks you’ll want to visit Salar de Uyuni and Bolivia’s beautiful colored lagoons:
1. Bizarre ghost train yards
Ghost towns have nothing on this abandoned train yard. The Railroad Cemetery, typically the first stop on any Salar de Uyuni excursion due to its proximity to the city of Uyuni, is a bizarre expanse of rusted cabooses and turned over carriage cars. Once home to an extensive network of train lines built by British engineers at the end of the 19th century, the train industry fell apart with the collapse of the Bolivia’s mining industry during the 1940’s leaving whole trains abandoned on their tracks to wither into the barren landscape.
2. Climbing with reckless abandon
Lace up your sneakers and let out your inner mountain goat. The Salar region is a climbers paradise with ancient volcanic rock formations of every shape and size. It’s a bit like the wild west here – anything goes – so as long as you aren’t being stupid you can climb on and jump off of just about anything.
3. Epic #beentheredonethat selfies
Let’s face it, half the reason people go anywhere these days is to be able to snap that perfect #beentheredonethat selfie. (We’re as guilty as the next person.) Take your selfies to the next level at Salar de Uyuni with creative perspective photos. Don’t forget to bring the props. And try to line up a guide who likes to have a little fun with the photos.
4. Dramatically varied landscapes
Perhaps the most unique thing about the Salar tour is how varied the landscapes are over the course of three days. From the barren stretches of white across the salt flats to flamingo filled red lagoons and lunar looking volcanic panoramas, you will not be left disappointed with the range of natural landscapes you will see.
5. Rustic road tripping
A road trip where you don’t have to worry about any of the driving and instead can sit back, relax and enjoy the multitude of beautiful sites – what’s not to love? Most tours are packaged as 3-day/2-night trips including Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, as well as the surrounding desert and altiplano regions leading to the Chilean border. The ride and accommodation aren’t glamorous but you’ll likely get to stay at least one night in a “hotel” made of entirely of salt.
6. New friends in close quarters
Loaded up shoulder to shoulder in a land cruiser for three days and there is not much else to do besides settle in and get to know your car mates. As an international tourist draw, a Salar tour gives you the opportunity to get cozy with a vehicle full of people from around the world.
7. Magnificent flamingos
Your Salar de Uyuni and Colored Lagoons tour will be light on the wildlife spotting with sprawling desolate landscapes for as far as the eye can see. That is except for the magnificent flamingos. Three different types of flamingos habitat the Salar – the Chilean flamingo, the Andean flamingo and the James flamingo. It is a treat watching these magnificent creatures walk with awkward gracefulness on stilted legs across the water.
8. World’s best hot spring
No, really. Not only is this hot spring situated in a stunning landscape but after two full days driving in a car crammed full of people and no opportunity to shower, this will be the most welcome dip you’ve ever had. Sure, it will take a lot of courage to de-robe down to your bathers in sub-zero temps to enjoy the hot spring at 7 in the morning, but once you do we promise you won’t regret it. Slightly cleaner and much warmer you’ll be ready to go for the day.
9. Dining with a view
It’s a special experience getting to break bread amongst new friends while overlooking a flamingo lagoon and the mighty smoking Ollague volcano.
10. Jumping through geyser
At an elevation of 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) you can feel, see and smell the earth raging beneath you in this vast expanse of geysers, fumaroles and mud baths. It is here at the Sol de Mañana that you can even try your hand at jump through a raging geyser.
So there you have it – Bold Travel’s top reasons to visit the adventure travel mecca Salar de Uyuni. What do you think? Have you been to Salar de Uyuni? What’s missing from this list?