We were traveling through South America and from Peru we landed in La Paz (Bolivia). Our final destination was Chile, the Atacama Desert, but we did not want to miss the chance to see the Salar de Uyuni. Being the Salt Desert the highest of the world at almost 4000 meters of altitude, with an extension of about 12000 kilometers of salt, formed over thousands of years from prehistoric lakes and one of the few zones of planet earth that you can see from space! The most spectacular scenery would have to be there. And they were.
Our trip from La Paz to Uyuni was made by bus. If we tell you that it was 10 hours on the way you will think it was boring and tiring, but not really! We chose the tour operator All Tourism. The buses are spacious, they have wi-fi throughout the whole route, air conditioning, television, wc with excellent condition and in our case that the trip started at 9pm we were served dinner, (in which there were even two options of dishes) and breakfast. It's almost like traveling first class on the plane for only € 30. The trip went by fast and we were able to sleep comfortably, bringing the freshest Uyuni, ready to make the most of it.
Tourism in Uyuni is the main economic activity and as we went by bus there were several operators offering combined tours of one or several days according to the preferences of each one. The buses arrive at 7am each morning in the city of Uyuni and the 4x4 cars that took us to Salar leave at around 10am. All carriers operate this way.
Being our final destination the Atacama Desert, we opted to do the one day tour since lagoons, geysers and volcanic peaks would still be seen at the next stop.
We started our tour in the Salar de Uyuni by the "Train Cemetery", is exactly what the name indicates, a place where there is a set of wagons of abandoned trains. It was the end point of a period of progress that occurred in the territory in the Bolivian Altiplano between the end of the century. XIX and the beginning of the century. XX. The carriages worn by the marks of the time, are obligatory stop whatever the tour that is chosen to know the desert of salt.
Then we made a brief stop in the "eyes of the salar". They are two large, more or less symmetrical craters that promote the change from the white infinite of al to the more yellowish edges and the smell of sulfur. This is so because the hot water in contact with the volcanic rock, takes advantage of the cracks of the bottom of the earth and comes the surface to release the gases and the humidity. We still returned to this point at dusk, from here we saw the sunset in the salt desert. We used the reflections of the "eyes of the salar" for some more fun group photos.
We continued our walk towards the symbol of the Dakar Rally. It was in this place that the first hotel of the Salar de Uyuni was located, now it is a place of obligatory stop, in which there are flags of almost all the countries of the world that the own tourists go putting.
On the tour itself was included the lunch that we were served here. We realize that this is the place used by several tour operators.
We followed our walk, the sun now assumed a position we could not even look forward to and even looking down the reflection of the sun's rays in the white crystals of salt dazzled anyone.
The next stop was near a small lagoon, where pink flamingos lived. It is amazing to see the fauna and flora of this inhospitable and unusual place. We were fascinated to see a volcano in the background. We realize that these are the headlights in the middle of the desert. The indicators that guide when the rain erases the track of cars or when there is no road.
The silence of the desert is deafening, the white plains to lose sight of have both calming and intimidating. The landscape is broken by the hexagonal shapes that the ground understands and we break the monotony of the trip with the prospective photos that the salt desert allows us to make. It was very funny.
The last stop was in Incahuasi Island. An oasis in the middle of the desert. Imagine an endless fullness of salt broken by a cluster of tall, bulky catos. Some of them centenarians. It is possible to climb to the top of this "island" and have a panoramic view of the salt desert.
At the end of the day we returned to Uyuni and from here we continue by bus to the Atacama. It is possible to travel in this direction (Salar de Uyuni - São Pedro de Atacama and vice versa), the extension of the Salar tour is variable.
But there are a number of things we can not forget when we are going to "lose" in the salt desert:
- Sunscreen. Whether summer or winter, because the sun reflects in an extraordinarily beautiful and dangerous way);
- Sunglasses, as the reflection of UV rays can be harmful;
- Cap, hat and coat;
- Bikini and bathing suit (for possible diving in the thermal waters);
- Comfortable tennis to walk on salt, rocks and earth;
- Open heart and adventurous spirit.