Uyuni salt flat tour (1/3) – My happiest and saddest day of all
The 3-day Uyuni salt flat tour was our first activity in Bolivia and my expectations were veeery high! We only heard the most amazing stories from Bolivia and the Uyuni salt flat. Also the pictures, that you can find after a quick Google search, are already pretty impressive.
As soon as we arrived in Uyuni (after the most tiring bus ride from Calama, Chile) we went straight to the Quechua Connection agency, of which we only read excellent recommendations, to book our 3 day trip. The staff, the provided services, route and value for price ratio convinced us in an instant. We made no further comparisons and were proven that we could trust our gut feeling on this one. Because, we were not going to be disappointed.
There a countless operators offering salt flat tours from one to multi day and cheap to very expensive. The tour with Quechua is a 100% reco and totally worth the 160 EUR per person (including everything for the 3 days).
The tour started the following morning at 11pm with an informative briefing of what to expect (in detail) during the next days. We were split into 3 small groups, with 5 people sharing one jeep, one (English speaking) guide and a driver. After the instructions off we went – to the most amazing guided tour I’ve ever been part of.
Day 1 – the world’s largest salt flat
First stop of day one was a train cemetery, with abandoned trains of former mining transportation. The place would have been a lot better without the tourist crowds as this is the first stop of every single tour operator. However the 30 minutes passed quickly and we could already then find out how knowledgable and talkative Saulo, our excellent guide, was.
From there we drove to a small market, where we saw a demonstration of the natural process of making salt. At this point we were already a little afraid of the tour remaining very touristy throughout the whole trip, but luckily we were proven the opposite just half an hour later when we drove right into the world’s largest salt flat.
Once in (or rather on) there we hardly realized the fellow guided tours any more, for two reasons. Firstly due to the extensive size of the salt desert and secondly because our agency was the only one providing a bike ride on the salt flat. We were given rental bikes and could drive around 3km all by ourselves in this sheer endless and so fascinating landmark. This distance was enough given the altitude of 3.700 metres above sea level and the burning sun with obviously no shadow at any point.
After a delicious lunch with lots of vegetables and salad (not usual in the meat dominated country of Bolivia) we spent the rest of the day in the salt flat. We drove all the way through it with several stops, including:
… taking reflection pictures in some wet parts from the prior night’s rainfalls
… taking funny perspective pictures and videos
… exploring the Isla Incahuasi with its cactuses and an amazing view across the Uyuni salt flat
… enjoying one of the most special sunsets right in the middle of the flat. Which is identical to the middle of nowhere
During the sunset spectacle we somehow must have lost our camera’s memory card. All the pics from our prior 3 stops as well as the majority of the photos of this very day were on it. Thus making it the happiest and saddest day of our entire journey (so far) at the same time. :'(
The day ended with late dinner in a salt hotel, which got its name from being completely build of salt! Again the food was plenty and delicious, with a separate vegetarian option for me.
I can hardly describe the overwhelming feeling that accompanied me while falling asleep. I was processing this most special day and probably once in a lifetime experience. Though Georg promised me we will come back some day to retake all our lost pictures^^.