Written by Doly Leytón Arnez / Translated by José María Peñaranda
All the sensations generated by seeing the beautiful postcards of Salar de Uyuni and its attractions remain short compared to experience it personally, living and enjoying every moment in this unique place in the world.
But every trip has a starting point and, although we are looking for adventure, there is something that we can not leave to chance: the choice of the right tour, comfortable and, above all, safe.
We opted for a complete package with Bolivia Trip, which is a three-day tour in the Salar de Uyuni that includes, among other attractions, the lagoons of colours and the Tunupa volcano.
The price of the tour is higher than other similar offers but it is worth it because it provides more comfort: accommodation in Tayka Hotels with private bathroom, heating and hot water. In addition, only four passengers travel in each 4×4 vehicle. The price-quality ratio is perfect.
Among desserts and lagoons of colours
It is 7 am. My adventure partner and I are looking forward to visiting all the places of our schedule. A little more than two hours of our trip from Uyuni, after passing through the town of San Cristobal – where Bolivia’s largest mine is located- the car stops. From this point, we had to walk. We are in the middle of a place full of whimsical shapes that change according to perspective and imagination. The immense formations that can be seen in the Valle de las Rocas, our first stop, are fantastic.
While the most «impressionable» tourists – like me – remain stood, looking at the landscape; others are already posing for the camera in front of each rock they encounter. It is a valley that is lost on the horizon, it seems endless. This site gives freedom to interpret each image to your liking as it happens when you look at the clouds. In addition, small green mosses tinge some rocks as a sign of life in this place.
After lunch we made a short stop to pick up two more tourists who arrived from the Chilean city of San Pedro de Atacama, and we continued on our way to the magnificent Laguna Verde that is located at the foot of the Licancabur volcano.
If the variety of shapes of these rocks amazes visitors, imagine the precise moment when you first see the lagoons of colours. Among the most impressive is the Laguna Colorada. There, in addition, a group of white flamingos and pink shades complete a beautiful panorama. The postcards of this site vary completely, according to the time that the photos are taken. Each capture is unique and beautiful.
After enjoying the scenery, we continue the trip. Is there anything more impressive? I wonder as we approach the next point. And … in this tour it seems that the surreal does not end. The Dalí Desert is another obligatory stop during the ride through the Eduardo Abaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve. There the silence is overwhelming, the contrast of tonalities in the landscape evokes the works of the great Spanish painter. We’re still on the way. We approach little by little the famous Stone Tree, a peculiar rock formation carved by the wind, which is in the Siloli Desert, considered one of the most arid in the world, according to our audio-guide, exclusive of this tour. We downloaded it through a mobile application on our phones before leaving Uyuni, since in this area there is practically no internet signal. Although the cold is felt, at this point the emotion does not stop.
This day was magnificent. Our rest was also special because we spent the night at the Hotel Tayka del Desierto, a rustic lodging that was literally built in the middle of nowhere. It is considered one of the most exotic in the world.
A sea of salt, stories and landscapes
Today’s agenda marks the route through the Lagunas Menores (Honda, Hedionda and Cañapa). All are very beautiful. Bird – flamencos and gulls – tinge the horizon with the mountains in the background that characterize this Andean destination. We are in a volcanic area so the smell of sulphides is strong, hence the name «Laguna Hedionda».
And speaking of sulphides, the tour continues to the active volcano Ollagüe, which is located on the border of Bolivia and Chile. Like everything we saw during these two days, this site offers us a stunning view. We are facing a volcano with a crater that measures 1,250 meters in diameter. The fumaroles, one yellow and the other off-white, are characteristic of this tourist attraction.
Definitely this tour stands out for the impressive nature but history opens its path when you reach the «Quemado Village» of San Pedro de Quemes, where its main attraction is a stone church, located 7 kilometres away, in Ikala.
According to history, this town suffered the assault of the Chilean invasion during the Pacific War and was totally burned, forcing its inhabitants to leave their homes and take refuge in the church. With time, they returned to their territory and baptized their town as San Pedro de Quemes.
We leave behind the houses built with adobe, blocks of mud and straw, and we continue towards the Salar de Uyuni, located to the west of the town of the same name.
Little by little the colour and smell of the earth dissipates in the path and the white of the salt takes over our surroundings. Reaching the largest salt flat in the world is overwhelming. The impressive landscape is reflected in the dark glasses that we all use by strict recommendation before starting the tour. Some are in tune with the salt because of the excess of sunscreen applied to their faces. Protecting yourself from the sun is very important in this walk. Although it sounds trite, there are no words to explain this sensation. I’m on a sea of salt!
Like a mole in the white desert, the Isla Incahuasi can be seen. In this space of only 200 square meters there are large cacti standing as guardians of the site. A pair of white llamas attracts the attention of foreigners who take advantage of the moment to take pictures. This is a strategic stopping point to get food -if needed, use the bathrooms, rest and appreciate the salt flat.
With all that has been said, one can think that there are no forces to keep going but it is not like that. The curiosity to know more and above all the desire to enjoy this wonderful destination is very great. Our journey continues and little by little the horizon is painted with the colour of the sunset.
«Watch the sunset in the Salar de Uyuni», is the constant in the offer of tourist packages. Now I know why. You have to live it … this moment also leaves me speechless!
The night falls, everyone is back to the vehicle. We undertake the way back to finish our tour in the town of Tahua, where we will spend the night in another of the Tayka hotels, this one built with blocks of salt.
Tunupa Volcano, Salar and the Old Salt Museum
I do not know if the rest of the group feels the same as me but I have mixed feelings because the adventure will end today. It is the third day, and last of this fascinating trip. I have in mind the planned activities: two hours of walking in the Tunupa Volcano, Salar de Uyuni, visit the Old Salt Museum, buy handicrafts in the village of Colchani and finally arrive at the Train Cemetery.
During this day our main activity was to take pictures and make videos playing with the perspectives and the spectacular reflection of the salt, that by the accumulation of water that has during the rainy season (from December to March), converts this plain into the world’s biggest mirror. Although I want to describe every moment of this day, I won’t do it; but I invite you to live and enjoy this unique tour with Bolivia Trip.
Trip summary … 100 points
- The tour with «Bolivia Trip»… recommended!
- The nights were pleasant. Comfortable lodging in rustic hotels from Tayka network, with hot water and private toilets
- Comfortable trips, only four passengers in each vehicle
- Fixed departures, on Tuesdays and Fridays
- Safe. Drivers show professionalism
- Oxygen and first-aid kits are available
- The best price and we paid online.
- Price-quality ratio is more than perfect.
- Complete tour program of Bolivia Trip and prices on this link
- Bolivia Trip information:
- Office in La Paz: Av. Sánchez Lima Nro. 2226, Oficina 3, Sopocachi
- Phone in Bolivia: +591 2 2422 286
- Phone in USA: +1 213 402 0434
- Whatsapp: +591 715 420 88
- Office in Uyuni:Calle: Ballivian entre Loa y Colombia
- More information: www.boliviatrip.tours