Vagablogging Field Report: into the wild in Bolivia’s salt flats


Mega lake on the way to the salt flats

The three-day trip cost £100 including meals and accommodation.

Whats the strangest thing youve seen lately?

Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni. The salt flats are over 10,500 square kilometers and stretch as far as the horizon. It’s a dazzling, brilliant white landscape, made more spectacular by being the remains of an ancient lake. The otherworldly Salar is surrounding by mountains and dotted with islands filled with cacti. You can’t help but think ‘wow‘.

Describe a typical day:

Although typically called a salt flats tour, the first two days are spent travelling through the desert. We started in Chile’s San Pedro de Atacama and visited striped volcanoes, multi-coloured lakes, steaming geysers and thermal waters. There is no typical day in this landscape.

What do you like about where you are? Dislike?

Lama above the salt flatsI enjoyed every moment of the landscape of this three-day trip – there was always a new surprise awaiting at every corner. My highlights were a red lagoon edged by brilliant yellow sulphur, the salt flats themselves, and taking a dip in thermal waters in the middle of the desert.

The nights were very cold, but I had been warned of this beforehand so wrapped up warm in Andean wools. The altitude made if difficult to breathe the first night and, coupled with the cold, made for an uneasy night’s sleep. But the scenery soon perked everyone up the following morning and the difficulties were forgotten.

Describe a challenge you faced:

Choosing a salt flats tour was tricky, The wild terrain means a guide is a necessity and there are plenty of horror stories about kamikaze, drunk drivers and crashes. We went with Cordilliera Traveller who have a great safety record. While our driver was rather unfriendly, he was at least safe. I, luckily, didn’t suffer too much from the altitude but others in the group did, especially on the first night when a few were crippled by headaches. These cleared up on the second day.

What new lesson did you learn?

Tiny dancer on the salt flatsFlamingos are pink because of the type of shellfish and algae they eat. We saw hundreds on our journey around the desert and a few were almost white. Also, who would have thought that such delicate, pretty looking creatures were so hardy? This is the second time we’ve seen them on this trip and the last time was in Patagonia – both such cold, unforgiving climates. I’ve spent most of my life thinking they were tropical birds.

Where next?

We are travelling in Bolivia for a few weeks before heading into Peru. I’m then off to Europe for a few weeks for two travel blogging conferences. After that, I’ll go and join Steve again in Ecuador. Read more about our adventures on Bridges and Balloons.

Posted by | Comments (2)  | August 25, 2012
Category: South America, Vagabonding Field Reports

2 Responses to “Vagablogging Field Report: into the wild in Bolivia’s salt flats”

  1. Callie Says:

    I loved the Salar tour – definitely the most surreal landscape I’ve ever seen in my life! Absolutely worth every penny.

  2. Ashley Says:

    I went there in June this year and it was amazing. Freezing cold at night the places you stay have tiny heaters and practically no wood for burning and I have been told that it can flood in wet season so plan your trip accordingly if you want to go. Completely worth it though.

    Oh and those photos are not as easy to get but they are fun to try and get.