There is no place on earth quite like the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia; salt diamond terrain, mirror glass roads, snow capped volcanoes and hot springs, the world’s largest and highest salt flat has seemingly endless wonders to see and experience. The striking landscapes of the Uyuni Salt Flats have inspired fascinated artists, writers and travelers from all over the world. Adventurous travelers will find that there is plenty to see and do in the Uyuni Salt Desert; from majestic volcanoes, to multicolored lagoons, to entire buildings made of salt, days of travel in the salt desert will be filled with incredible, once-in-a-lifetime views and activities.
8 Visit the train carriage graveyard
To begin with, visitors will be greeted by this fascinating and strange sight already on the way to the salt flats: a cemetery made up of abandoned trains and wagons, the remains of the Antofagasta and Bolivian railway, which crossed the region at the end from the 1900s. They were abandoned by workers and patrons when the precious metals and railroads collapsed in the 1940s. If they were elsewhere, it is likely that the trains would be in better condition today , but due to the amount of salt in the air and wind of Uyuni, they ended up oxidizing and deteriorating in the post-apocalyptic look, making it the very own Uyuni. air museum.
7 Stop and rest at Hotel Playa Blanca Salt
In 1998, in a pioneering feat in tourism, Don Juan Quesada Valda decided to build a hotel right in the center of the salt flats, made entirely of salt, from masonry to furniture. Although the hotel opened its doors, the logistics of operating it from the middle of the salt flats ultimately disabled it in 2002; despite this, visitors can still visit the salt brick building, which is still a restaurant. Once there, the Flag Plaza, which features flags of various countries (and football teams) and the Dakar monument make for fun sightseeing and photo-taking spots.
6 Get steamy at the geysers of Sol De La Mañana
Trekking near the Sol de la Manãna geothermal area, it is already possible to smell the smell of sulfur from the volcanic soil. The area is uneven ground of reddish volcanic soil contrasting with pools of bubbling light mud. The steaming geysers, spherical geography and snow-capped volcanoes far beyond, in contrast to the white planes of the salt flats, make the whole thing feel like a lunar landscape. The steam from the geysers can reach up to 15 meters in height and is at its peak, as the name suggests, in the morning.
5 Visit the salt village of Colchani
Colchani is a small salt village, with about 600 inhabitants, responsible for the largest salt processing cooperative in Bolivia and distribution in Bolivia and Brazil. In Colchani, the local salt factory offers free tours (although tipping local guides is strongly encouraged!), as well as the Museo de Llama y Sal, which gives insight into salt production and features the sculptures of salt, furniture and masonry. Colchani is the place to shop for handicrafts, with handwoven salt crafts and llama and alpaca textile products.
4 Explore Incahausi Island
An island in the middle of the desert? That’s right. Surrounded by a sea of salt Isla Incahausi – Inca house in Quechua – rises like an outcrop of rocky land, populated by giant cacti that can reach up to 10 meters in height. One of the highlights of most Uyuni tours, Incahausi is formed by a dormant volcano and a fossil reef and hill that are the remains of the Uyuni River hundreds of thousands of years ago. From the top of the island, there is a perfect view of the expanse of the Salar de Uyuni.
3 Discover the Árbol De Piedra in the Siloli Desert
Moving from salt to sand, near the Uyuni Salt Flats we have the Siloli Desert, famous for its fun and sculptural rock formations. The centerpiece and the most visited and photographed place in Siloli is the fascinating Árbol de Piedra, which means “rocky tree”. Formed by millions of years of volcanic sediment and erosion by the region’s strong winds, this five-meter-tall stone is shaped like an abstract tree, giving the entire desert a surreal perspective.
2 Admire the colorful lagoons
One of the most anticipated stops on Salar de Uyuni tours is the absolutely incredible lakes in the area. Laguna Hedionda is a shimmering blue-white salt lake famous for its native flamingos. Laguna Blanca is a pure white lagoon, its color, like Laguna Hedionda, is due to the high percentage of salt and minerals suspended in the water; next door is its sister lake Laguna Verde, known for its unique turquoise to emerald color. Devoid of animal life due to its high percentages of arsenic, which gives it that color, Laguna Verde is still a sight to behold at the foot of the Licanbur Volcano. Finally, Laguna Colorada, arguably the most famous of them all, stunned visitors with its shades of deep blue and red. Across the lake is contrasting White Borax Island, where travelers are likely to see flocks of flamingos in summer and spring; contrasted with the snow-capped mountains of the Andes Cordillera in the background, it’s a sight like no other.
1 Take a healing bath in the thermal waters of Polques
To decompress after so many adventures, nothing better than a beneficial bath in the thermal waters. The mineral-rich waters of the Polques hot springs are usually 29°C, ideal for relaxing tired muscles and relieving aches. If the water isn’t enough, the beautiful flat volcanic and salty landscape surrounding the natural pool is sure to relax everyone.
Be sure to bring your towels, bags, shoes, and a change of warm clothes to prepare for the heat shock.
How and when to visit the Uyuni salt pans