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Bolivia: Uyuni salt flats

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In the remote bleak southern plains of the altiplano, at 3,656m, the visually stunning Salar de Uyuni salt lake stretches as a blinding white sheet of surreal, ethereal beauty. It is embossed with hexagonal patterns which look to be carved by man. In the rains it is covered with mirror-like surface water reflecting faithfully the ice blue sky and clouds, dissolving the horizon. Nearby are two vividly coloured lakes, Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde, their gemstone hues created by their high mineral content. The red lake is next to hissing geysers, while the green one sits at the foot of the 5,920m Licancabur volcano.

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Our insider tips for Uyuni salt flats

Isabelle

Isabelle Mazille

The landscapes in Uyuni are remarkable and varied, so try to give the area at least 3 nights. Best known is the vast Salar de Uyuni, which famously becomes a giant mirror in the wet season, but you will see countless other surreal sights, such as hundreds of pink flamingos seemingly dancing ballet on the bright red Laguna Colorada! Any journey to this remote high altitude area entails a lot of driving, so a carefully chosen soundtrack to match the surreal road trip is a must!

Mary Anne

Mary Anne Nelson

Watch the local people mining salt by hand, as they have done for hundreds of years at the minuscule settlement of Colchani, on the edge the vast salt pans. Not far away is the locomotive graveyard - a collection of rusting steam engines and rolling stock, defaced by decades of often amusing political graffiti, plundered by oxyacetylene and abandoned to the wind-swept sands.

 

Jamie

Jamie Swan

Accommodation options are limited in this remote corner of Bolivia, but spending a night at one of the area’s unique small hotels built entirely from salt is a fun and novel experience. Alternatively, if you want complete privacy and a bit of luxury, then you can even sleep under the stars on the Salar de Uyuni in your own fully serviced retro air-stream camper!

Hannah

Hannah Donaldson

Make an early start to see the boiling mud pools, geysers and fumaroles of Sol de Manana in the frosty morning, when they are at their most visibly active, a magnificent site best appreciated from a cautionary distance.

What our experts say

An overnight in the middle of the salar (salt flats) is a unique experience.  I have been to Uyuni many times over the years but I had never experienced it so closely.  Being on your own in the middle of the salt pan on a clear night with stars falling from the sky is quite something.  It felt like I was discovering the secrets of Uyuni, it's peaceful enough during the day but at night everything is so still, it makes it truly magical.

Isabelle

Isabelle Mazille

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