Happy Sunday, guys!
How you’ve been? I’ve been taking a few weeks downtime from the blog, and this is the result: new look, new logo, new hosting (which I’m frankly still trying to figure out – what the hell are all these tech words I didn’t even know existed?) but the same, good old content. How do you like the new design?
As you probably know (because I can’t stop spamming it all over my Insta feed), I travelled in Bolivia in July, and one of the highlights of the trips was, as expected, my 3-day Jeep safari to Salar de Uyuni and the national parks around it. Fun fact: You visit the actual salt flats on the first day and spend the next two driving across outlandish mountains scapes, Martian deserts and gravel roads surrounded by multi-coloured lagoons. Driving through that makes you feel like you’re in a constant car commercial!
Here are my best pictures from the trip. Can you sense the radness?
The best time of the year to visit Salar de Uyuni is during the dry season, which runs from July to October. However, this means that you’re not very likely to see the mirror effect that the salt flats are also known for. (Then again, if the flats are flooded with water, you also won’t be getting your cool forced perspective photos so there’s that.) Generally the best time of the year to see the reflection is March and April. Luckily it had just rained some time ago and my group managed to get a glimpse of what the reflections could be at their best.
The day I fought a dragon #khaleesiaf
Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt desert at 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi). That’s 10 billion tonnes of salt, guys!! (You’re not supposed to eat it, though – it needs to be processed first.) And what do you do with an unimaginably vast desert of nothing? Well, you ‘gram it, of course.
The white surface of the desert makes it easy to take forced perspective photos where certain objects can appear smaller or bigger. It’s easier to create this effect with a smart phone than a fancy camera, so our guide Franz snapped the group shots below on Scott’s phone. It’s completely ridiculous and so much fun that my abs were hurting by the time we got back into the car.
Sunset on Salar de Uyuni
Among other curiosities on the trip, we also got to visit a cactus island. It’s exactly what it sounds like – a big ass island in the middle of nothing that’s filled with different kind of cacti. It’s really bizarre.
When you’re picking the tour company, it might be worth asking if you’re going to see the sunset on the salt flats. Apparently some companies drive directly to the first night’s accommodation and don’t wait around for the sun to set – and guess what, if you miss the sunset on the salt flats, you’re missing out.
Car commercials for days
The second day was all about volcanoes, lagoons and rough terrain. As it was early in the season, the road conditions were capricious – just a few weeks earlier, my friend’s group had turned back from the mountains because there was too much snow. The temperature was also dropping as we were little by little reaching higher altitudes. That night we slept at 4,300 m, at -10 degrees. (Side note: if you’re planning on a tour to Salar de Uyuni, make sure you go with a company that accommodates you next to the hot springs. That way you get to get red-wine drunk under a million stars all evening and start the day watching the sunrise from the spring, too, while others have to wake up at 4.30 just to get to soak in the springs for about half an hour.)
Views over Laguna Honda – ‘the deep lagoon’, named with a lot of imagination since it’s the deepest lagoon in the national park. Duh.
Then there’s laguna Hedionda – possibly one of the most beautiful spots I will ever have lunch at. It’s also usually your best bet for seeing pink flamingos up close.
Laguna colorida – ‘the coloured lagoon’ is known for its bright red colour, caused by the movement of algae in the water when it’s windy. I’m glad it was windy but at the same time, where’s my +30 degrees?
Third day – the landscape is still awesome but all I want is a hot shower and clean laundry.
On the third day my travel buddies continued on to Chile, so I was put in a car with two Americans to cruise back to Uyuni. I’d like to say I spent the day getting to know more about the Americans’ super fascinating government jobs or even finishing my book – but nope, I nodded off half an hour into the drive and only woke up for llama sightings and lunch.
How to get there?
The best way to visit Salar de Uyuni is to take a 4×4 tour. Tour operators mostly offer the same packages, but there are differences in quality, so it is worth asking around for recommendations before booking the tour. Always check Tripadvisor reviews – I almost went with a company who had a slick, smooth salesman but whose reviews revealed that some of their drivers had been drinking and that some cars were missing seatbelts. You might have to book with the most popular (and expensive!) companies, like the famous Red Planet, beforehand, but most visitors book their tours on the same morning.
From Uyuni – The town of Uyuni is the most popular starting place for tours. Usually jeeps take six people and you should be paying 800-850 BOL for a three-day tour. If you arrive the night before the tour, note that offices close up at 8 p.m. and open up in the morning between 7 and 8 a.m. Many backpackers arrive from La Paz on the night bus that gets to Uyuni at 8.30 a.m. and book their tours right after. On the third day of the tour, you can get off at San Pedro to continue to Chile, or you can circle back to Uyuni.
From Tupiza – You can also take the tour from the cowboy town of Tupiza. From what I heard, tours there take four or six people, the route is different (albeit less touristy) and the price tag more expensive.
From San Pedro – If you’re coming from Chile, you can also get a tour from San Pedro, although again there aren’t as many agencies as in Uyuni so you might end up paying more to go with a good one. The route from San Pedro is the same as the one from Uyuni, just in reverse.
So there you have it! What’s the most photogenic place you ever visited?