It is said that in life you have to plant a tree, write a book and have a child, I add (or substitute) taking a trip to Uyuni Salt Flats, one of the most photographed places in South America. To this day I still don’t believe what I saw, but I remember it perfectly and I want to try to transmit what I lived. I know that words are limited, but I’m going to try, I’ll tell you about my trip to Uyuni Salt Flats from Chile!
Before starting with the desired and expected 3 days Uyuni Salt Flats trip, we decided to spend 3 days in San Pedro de Atacama, to make the most of the trip, of course. It was great because we had time to discover discover the Moon Valley, enjoy a bath in the Puritama hot springs and watch the stars with the astronomical tour. It was great!
Day 1: From Chile to Uyuni Salt Flats
After some very intense days in San Pedro de Atacama, our starting point from where to start the Uyuni Salt Flats trip, we decided to go to bed early the last night, at 04:00 in the morning the minibus would pick us up and the best plan we could think of was to try to rest. And thank goodness! They came to pick us up super punctually and the 12 of us went together to the border, where they divided us into three groups to change vehicles.
Before the border with Bolivia, we had to fill out some documents informing us about the time we would spend in the country. After the paperwork, pancakes, coffee with milk, fruit, and sandwiches were waiting for us in the car that had taken us there, what a treat! The early morning was worth it and we certainly managed to revive ourselves, we were hungry!
After charging the batteries, the three cars we were waiting for arrived to continue with the Uyuni Salt Flats trip. We shared a vehicle with a French couple, and Brazilian mother and daughter, what a lovely mix!
When we got to the border they stamped our passports, we were already in the system! In the middle of nowhere, we enjoyed incredible views of a huge volcano (I don’t know if it was the Licancabur, actually). When we got back to the car we couldn’t stop looking out the window and sighing! How wonderful, the landscapes were film-like: desert, volcanoes, colorful lakes, majestic rocks, etc.
And from enjoying the views in the distance we move on to do so in the vicinity. First the White Lagoon, then the Green one. We also pass by the highest point of the trip to the Salar de Uyuni: a geyser (impressive, you can imagine) at 4.000 meters above sea level. Even if the emotion can you, don’t run to it. I did and I got quite dizzy due to the altitude and the toxic fumes it expels. Conclusion: don’t be in a hurry, the geyser is not going anywhere.
Before resting for lunch we made the last stop at the Polques Hot Springs, and what a stop! I forgot I was hungry. The waters were very clean and from inside we could enjoy some amazing views. The landscape was wrapped in a unique mix of colors and you could breathe immensity. Don’t you think I’m talking about paradise?
We ate on the porch of an old school and in the afternoon we saw the Colorada Lagoon, can you guess why it was named? The lagoon was full of pink flamingos that shared the view with the surrounding alpacas and llamas, it was a touching sight!
In the late afternoon, we arrived at the first accommodation, a very humble hostel run by natives of the village. We were in the middle of the desert without any connection and the cities were hours away by car. Although far from a luxury hotel, it was a luxury to be there. They were lovely with us and the food was delicious.
Speaking Spanish was a big advantage both in the hostel and in the transport because neither the hosts nor the driver spoke English. You can imagine that the French couple had a bit of a hard time understanding the explanations of Willy, our driver, about the history of each place, the landscapes, etc. But he was very expressive and made an effort to make everything clear!
Day 2: Sal Hotel
The next day the first stop was in so-called Lost Italy and the rocky valley, a desert of steep rocks and a thousand shapes reminiscent of a village of stone. We made another stop to see rocky monuments, the one that caught my attention was shaped like a camel. We also visited the Inca’s canyon, a rock in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of a canyon. It looked like we were in the Lion King’s stampede!
Before stopping for lunch we made a stop where our guide showed us a path of about 10 minutes to the Fauna Sora. We discovered an idyllic corner surrounded by ducks, grass of a thousand colors, and rocky shapes everywhere. We enjoyed a good time walking through the flora and fauna and we met again with the group to move in the car to a bar that was in the middle of the Uyuni Salt Flats.
At lunchtime, we gathered a lot of groups and each driver served the food to his own. The food was delicious and our group had a great time. Even more so when after lunch we went to San Agustin, where there is an old train station. We tried a couple of quinoa beers at a local craft beer bar. Shortly after that we got into the car and drove to the Sal Hotel in Uyuni.
When we arrived at the hotel we had a not very good first impression. The Sal Hotel, it was made of bricks! Before the panic started Willy explained to us that, due to the strong rainy season in Uyuni de Uyuni, it is impossible to maintain the building made externally of salt. So outside it is covered with brick, but inside it is completely made of salt!
The hotel was beautiful and each couple in the group enjoyed a private room without expecting it. It was a surprise! It was unimaginable that in the middle of a desert you could find such luxury. They served us a snack shortly after our arrival and an early dinner so that we could get up early the next day and see the sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flats.
Day 3: Sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flats
In the morning (actually, it was still night) the whole group was super punctual and we loaded the car to start the trip. We decided to start near the Incahuasi Island to visit it as soon as we saw the sunrise. It was a spectacular moment to see the beginning of the day from such a place. It was very cold waiting for us, but the first sunray came out and we noticed the intense heat.
After watching the sunrise at Uyuni Salt Flats we visit the Incahuasi Island. It was a strange and funny place at the same time. The place was full of little stone paths to the top and full of giant cactus in the middle of a giant salt flat. It is clear that we took a thousand pictures.
When we came down from the Incahuasi Island, Willy was waiting for us on a salt table with an incredible breakfast that included cake, coffee with milk, cookies, etc. We were hungry and everything was delicious, what a gastronomic tour we were having!
The next stops were already inside, in the curious Salar de Uyuni, and we took funny group pictures in each of the stops. And finally, before saying goodbye to this magnificent place, we visited the Dakar monument.
We left the Uyuni Salt Flats behind and headed for the town of Colchani, known for its large souvenir market. There we bought a few small items for friends and family until Willy told us it was time to leave. Before going to lunch we visited the famous Train Cemetery in the town of Uyuni and took a lot of pictures, we were influencers for a moment.
It was great to recharge our batteries in a restaurant where I tasted llama meat for the first time, it was delicious! (there was also a vegetarian option).
Once the meal was over, we were taken to the operator’s agency where we were given access to the internet in case we needed to call or send an urgent message. There we said goodbye to Willy and the rest of the group who we already considered friends.
There’s no doubt that it was an incredible experience that I’ll never forget. I never would have thought that such beautiful, impressive, and magical natural places could exist beyond the pages of fantasy tales. Those days in my head are like a parenthesis of disconnection. Did you feel like taking a trip to Uyuni Salt Flats? Do you have any doubts? Tell me!