“You will love it!” were the words we had heard from other travelers every time we mentioned our plan to travel to Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni; the biggest salt flat in the world. As you might imagine those words raised our expectations sky-high and we couldn’t wait to see the white endless scenery of the famous Bolivian Salt Flats.
Bolivian Salt Flats – rough and stunning scenery
Bolivia’s rough landscape requires a SUV and brings you to altitudes of 4,000 meters and higher. It is the thin air, hot days and damn cold nights that makes life hard in the Andean Plateau.
Equipped with many big containers of drinking water and thick sleeping bags our driver put the SUV into first gear and an amazing 2.5-day trip through barren surroundings began.
Our Bolivian Salt Flasts tour started in Uyuni, a sandy and sleepy town, whose children’s playground was possibly the most colorful place. By then we did not know that the adultís playground was just behind the corner, Uyuni’s train cemetery.
Arriving there, everybody jumped out of the SUV and climbed up the giant wrecked old steam locomotives. We felt a bit like being transferred back to Uyuniís golden period when those trains carried minerals from the Salar de Uyuni to the Pacific Ocean.
Salty, white, endless. These three words best describe the Salar de Uyuni. The sun burned from the sky and the reflections from the salt were so strong that it was impossible to open the eyes without sunglasses.
The Photo Spot for the Bolivian Salt Flats
Everybody was excited and as soon as the SUV stopped, we tore open the doors holding toys and Pringles cans in our hands. The salt flat is THE photo spot to play with proportions and perspectives, where people sit on potato chips cans, toy dinosaurs come to life chasing travelers and jumps over a SUV is a breeze.
Flags flutter in the wind. The Salar de Uyuni attracts travelers from around the world. Ever-since the salt flat played host to the world-famous Dakar Rally in 2014, it has gained even more attention amongst travelers.
Have you ever seen an island that is NOT surrounded by water? Welcome to Isla del Pescado, the Fish Island! The Salar de Uyuni counts only a few islands and we enjoyed an awesome view from the top of this one. From up there we got an impression of the true dimension of the salty landscape.
After leaving the salt flat we thought it could not get any better. But we were so wrong! Our SUV produced a giant cloud of dust when we crossed the stunning moon-like landscape of Bolivia’s Andean Plateau.
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In the Andean Plateau, in an altitude of about 4,000 meters, not only the air is breathtaking. The chain of volcanoes and mountains along the horizon gave us the feeling of being far away from any civilization. And for a second we thought we reached the ìend of the world.
Do you wonder who this little guy is? This is BoB, our funny golf ball. Together with us he explores the world and in Boliviaís Andean Plateau he wanted to show how brave he is when sitting on train tracks. These tracks might look like remains from centuries past but they are still in use and connect Bolivia with Chile.
The moon-like landscape surrounded us as we drove on red and brown sand when unexpectedly, behind a hill, a beautiful lagoon appeared. Hundreds, probably thousands of flamingos were wading through the shallow water in search for food. It was such a contradiction to see an oasis of life in the middle of the barren scenery.
The Andean Plateau and its mysterious rock formations have been formed over millions of years through wind and sand. And sometimes nature is very creative and forms rocks like the Arbol de Piedra, the Stone Tree.
Our guide told us before that we would get to see a lagoon more beautiful than the one we had seen before. But we did not want to believe him as we could not imagine that it would be possible.
Silence surrounded us when we approached the Laguna Colorada, the Red Lagoon. Everything around us felt unrealistic. Do you know how it feels when you see something and cannot believe it is real? It was hard to realize that this lagoon, with its shades of yellow, black, white, red, brown and the blue sky above it, was not a canvas. Now and then we saw these little pink spots again, flamingos that enjoyed the delicious alga which makes the water appear red.
It was almost sad to see that the last lagoon we visited, the beautiful Green Lagoon with the picturesque volcano in the background was avoided by flamingos. As we learned this green type of alga was poisonous. Too bad, the water looked so inviting with those beautiful reflections on the surface.
The last morning of our trip was all about steam and sulphur. It was a very special place our driver took us to watch the sunrise in the early morning. We were surrounded by geysers and holes in the ground filled with boiling mud. The cold air of the morning intensified the steam and the area looked like a mystic place.
At the end of our 2.5-day trip we were exhausted. Exhausted because of all the incredible things we had seen. It started with an endless white salt flat, continued with moon-like sandy and dry landscapes of volcanoes and mountains, and ended with the most colorful lagoons we had ever seen. Every one of us needed some time to digest the past days and we knew there are many amazing places on our blue planet but the Salar de Uyuni and everything around it truly belongs to one of its most beautiful places!
Have you been to the Salar de Uyuni? What do you think? Is Boliviaís Andean Plateau one of the most beautiful places in the world?
Liane and Lars, a travel-addicted couple from Germany, quit their jobs in July 2013 and started to travel the world. This might sound like any other travel blogger story but there is a ìlittleî difference. The two travel together with a cute golf ball called BoB. He is the “star” of their travel blog BoB around the world that gives helpful travel tips and travel inspiration with many pictures and videos.
PS: BoB is also a great photographer. Have a look at his first photo story.