Day 1

We met an awesome Belgium couple in Tilcara, told them about our upcoming tour from Tupiza to Uyuni and they decided to join us!

This worked out great for Daniel who was super sad about leaving behind his beloved buff in Tilcara. Mieke and Lukas saved the day (and a 3 hour return bus journey) by bringing it to Tupiza with them.

At 8am we meet our driver for the next 4 days. Ronal is a 20 year old Bolivian guy who only speaks Spanish and after hearing some horror stories, I am praying that he isn’t a hoon driver who is going to kill us. Thankfully he is a safe driver – the only downside is that his playlist consists of songs with the EXACT. SAME. BEAT. All you South American travellers out there know exactly what I’m talking about. He’s such a nice guy though and agrees to let us plug in different music. Anyway, back to our day. We ascend through Quebrada de Palapa to El Sillar with beautiful landscapes along the way. We get to a field of llamas and in my excitement, chase them all away. They must have sensed that I was hungry. We cross through Nazarenito mining areas, Chilcobija, Cerrillos, Polulos, Rio San Pablo and the colonial ruins of San Antonio Viejo until we reach the abandoned village of San Antonio de Lipez where we tuck in the for the night.

4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.

4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.

4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.

4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.
Uturuncu Volcano

Day 2

It’s a cold and early wake up at 6.30am for a pancake breakfast and to see more llamas. We visit Laguna Morejon, Laguna Hedionda Sur and Salar de Chalvri before heading to incredible hot springs where we get to bathe for the first time in 2 days. Nothing better than some hot springs when it’s freezing outside… until of course we have to get out.

4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.

4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.

4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.

4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.

We continue on through Laguna Verde and Laguna Blanca before stopping at Sol de Mañana geysers which are volcanic craters that smell like fart and are located at 5,000m above sea level. Cue fart photo.

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4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.

4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.
Laguna Verde

We descend to Laguna Colorada (or Red Lagoon) which is shallow salt lake covering around 60 square kilometers and is home to the James, Chilean and Andean Flamingos. The James Flamingos were believed to be extinct in the 1950s but were reinstated when a small flock was spotted in South America. The lagoon’s colour is the result of red sediments within the lake and the pigmentation found in certain microorganisms which dwell in it, together with red algae. The lagoon is also speckled with large, white pools of Borax and surrounded by yellow rings of sulfur. Ronal tells us that the colour also changes with the weather and is usually more of a blood red colour.

4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.

IMG_1040-Pano

Our hostel for the evening sits at nearly 4,400m so Daniel’s migraine is worsened by the altitude. It is also the coldest day of our lives so this doesn’t help. He throws up a couple of times that night and in our 5 layers of clothing, we huddle up on our single bed together and try to get some sleep.

Day 3

It’s another early start at 5.30am and is even colder than yesterday! Our first stop is to the Soliloi desert to see Árbol de Piedra (stone tree), a rock formation standing at 7m high and is shaped by strong winds carrying sand and eroding the soft sandstone.

4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.

Our drive continues through Laguna Honda and Laguna Hedionda which very randomly has a hotel plonked right in front of it. It’s bizarre because this Laguna also smells like fart (or rather, like sulfur) so not really sure why anyone in their right mind would want to stay there. We then venture on to Laguna Negra which is more verde than negra and eat some pasta stealthily prepared by our cook who knows when but it’s hot, delicious and full of veggies.

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4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.
Laguna Honda
4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.
Hotel Los Flamingos at Laguna Hedionda

4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.We arrive in our salt hostel which has hot showers – praise Jesus! Lukas licks the wall and confirms that it is indeed made of salt. After 3 days of lagunas we’re all pretty pumped for the salt flats tomorrow!

Day 4

It’s like Christmas morning and we’re all 6 year old kids anxiously awaiting to open our presents. We wake up a 4.30am and can’t wait to get going. We start driving and suddenly we’re out on the stretch of the salt flats and everything begins to disappear. Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flats at nearly 11,000 square kilometres. Around us is all white and it really is a breathtaking sight. Ronal tells us that it is better to stop to catch the sunrise without anyone else around. The slow sun rise lights the sky up whilst the moon decides to hang around, resulting in some pretty awesome photos (and captured on my iPhone mind you).

4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.

4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.

4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.

After sunrise, we make a quick breakfast stop at Incahuasi Island to see giant cacti before continuing out to the middle of the salt flats for an hour and a half of fun photos. Unfortunately we didn’t really plan for these photos so don’t have some decent props to play with and end up sticking to the violent style shots.

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We stop for lunch in Colchani and go to our last stop, Cementerio de Trenes, a collection of historic steam locomotives and rail cars dating back to the 19th century.

4 day Salt Flat tour from Tupiza to Uyuni, Bolivia.

We pull up into Uyuni and rush to see goodbye to Mieke and Lukas so that they can make their bus to Potosí. Determined to not stay in Uyuni for 6 hours, we hunt for a bus leaving ASAP and manage to find an 8 hour bus ride (which turns out to be 9.5 hours) heading to La Paz. We get on and after 4.5 hours get told to get off and switch buses. We end up on a bus with no air, windows that don’t open and no toilet. It takes every bit of strength, will and mind power to not pee my pants for the next 5 hours.

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Author

We're Daniel and Amanda. Newlyweds, thrifty backpackers, lovers of food, capturing and exploring the world one adventure at a time.

14 Comments

  1. Eleven thousand square kilometers of salt sounds tremendous. And to top it up, an altitude of 3656 meters above sea level makes it sound adventurous. I certainly would like to mention that licking the wall to check if it’s actually made of salt or not, was certainly included in the adventure.

    The pictures you’ve posted look really amazing. The place is like an open invitation to those who are seekers of natural beauty. I particularly loved the “illusion” & “action” series of pictures. Also thrilled to see the flamingos.

    Thanks for sharing this marvelous experience.

    – Pixellicious

    • It was indeed necessary to confirm that the wall was made of salt! Haha! Thank you so much for your kind comments, we work hard on the photography side so it’s nice to get some positive feedback.

  2. Love this post, it brings back all the memories. It sounds like you guys did the exact same tour/trip as us, We absolutely loved it and it seems as though you did too (despite the altitude sickness). The hot springs were great and when we visited the abandoned village it snowed! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Aww I did this same route earlier this year & loved it! I had already spent some time at altitude so was lucky not to get sick, but it was still very cold! I loved the lagunas, so pretty – its a shame some people just do a day tour of the Salar, for me the Southern part of Bolivia was the highlight!

    • I completely agree. I found the build up was perfect too because you enjoy all these great landscapes and then bam, you finish on the epic salt flats!

  4. Amazing pictures, amazing landscape! Laguna Verde looks awesome, somewhere I would love to go. And those fart smelling craters lol! It looks like you guys had a load of fun 🙂

  5. 2travellingsisters Reply

    Hahah, the fart photo is epic! The entire journey sounds so much adventurous, every place is so unique and picturesque. Would love to visit Salar de Uyuni and Red Lagoon (just to spot the Flamingos) someday.

  6. I never planned to go to Bolivia, it was Peru that I really wanted to go to, but since I had bought quite an expensive ticket, “I may as well stay longer and explore another country,” I thought to myself. 30-odd countries later and Bolivia is still one of my top three destinations and Salar De Uyuni was a big highlight. I loved it so much and see that you did too. Thanks for the awesome photos and memories! 🙂

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