Salar de Uyuni

Posted: January 22, 2012 in Bolivia
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Salar de Uyuni

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After spending a few nights in a nice 3 star hotel (which had an elevator, TV in the room with 200 channels, and hot water not just in the shower but sink as well) for 12$ a night in La Paz, I was ready to take on Bolivia’s dirt and sand roads and head down to the largest salt lake in the world. I didn’t expect that much as I have seen salt lakes before… but this is not ordinary salt lake. It’s a mind blowing place and one of the highlights of my trip. It should be added to the few wonders of the world, but then it would attract too much tourism. Either way, this lake will mess with your brain… it’s salt but makes you think it’s snow, islands look close but they are 100s of km away… and you start thinking that if your bike breaks down or anything happens, you might freeze to death having to spend the night in the middle of nowhere. Going in with a SPOT localizer is a good idea, or staying on the 4X4 trails. Also, make sure you fuel up before heading in onto the lake.

The road to Uyuni.

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Animal crossing… they of course have priority everywhere in Peru and Bolivia on the main or secondary roads.

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And finally on the lake but only 1 km in as it was getting late. I was lucky to come during the dry season so I could ride on the lake. During the wet season, there is a layer of water and you can only go in with a 4X4. I didn’t feel like going to town 20km away so I started asking around there where I could sleep…

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… it turns out that there is a luxury hotel there which will cost you about 80$ per night or if you ask around you might get lucky and find the same hostel I did for about 5$ per night.

My hostel looked something like this:

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And yes, everything is made of salt. The tables, chairs, walls and even the beds! Pretty cool for 5$ a night!

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If your food is missing salt…

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And here is what the luxury hotel looked like. I went there early next day to check it out. It’s also all built of salt.

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And we’re back on the lake. Filled up the bike, asked for directions…

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… and somehow still got lost. I ended up on the northern shore in a small really cool town. Getting lost is always good when your traveling.

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There were some mummies there and a cave a few KM away but the road was a bit rough even for my bike and I didn’t feel like walking. This is what the sign says so be prepared before going…

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So if your drunk, you should avoid going…

In the town I asked for directions to the Isla del Pescador. A nice gentleman showed me the direction and at a speed of about 120km/h riding in a straight line it would take about 40 min… and true enough, I was there in about 30.

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On the way back, I found this house someone was building on the lake.

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This French gentleman was a bit lost. A few of us finally convinced him that it was a bit late to go bicycling in and that the island was too far away for him to make it before dark. He finally listened and still a bit lost turned around.

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Comments
  1. Ocean says:

    This is incredible!!

    And then clicking through to the Wiki article, it is inspiring to read how the locals and Bolivian government refused to allow foreign corporations to exploit the lithium in the lake (now a vital element for the batteries that power everything from cell phones, ipads to electric cars)… Amazing actually that capitalistic imperialism was repelled successfully. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salar_de_Uyuni

    Thanks for sharing this place with us.

    • pimptrix says:

      As demand for Lithium will increase at an exponential scale in the near future with the arrival of more and more electrical powered vehicles, I am sure that the Bolivian GVT will give in to the highest bidder. What I find interesting is that such a small area has over 50% of all the Lithium on this planet…

  2. Vigilante says:

    The Salt Flats would be amazing to see. I was looking at pictures of it last night on some website. During the wet season it floods out and looks like a giant mirror. It looked pretty trippy.

    • pimptrix says:

      I’d like to see them again during the wet season, but the problem is that you can’t go on the lake with the bike during that time cause of the salt water that would get into every little part of your bike. The pictures are trippy as hell for sure.

  3. Jordan & Sandra says:

    We are on 2 F650s (also from Calgary) and are currently in Arica, Chile doing some maintenance. We thought that the weather was shite in bolivia and the salt flats were under water, so we high-tailed it here from Peru. Your photos tell a different story. When were you there? What was the weather and roads like? Cheers! Sandra.

    • pimptrix says:

      Well, you aren’t too far from the salt flats so I would STRONGLY recommend to try and do them. The roads are not the best, mainly gravel and sand along with perpendicular grooves that will make every bolt on your bike fall out along with your teeth. So you basically have 2 options, go slow and steady to be safe or go around 80km/h in order to fly on top of the grooves and hope you don’t end up in the ditch or a sand hole on the road. 2nd option is way more fun btw! 😉 As for the weather, it was a bit cold because of the altitude. If there is water on the lake which happens only a month or 2 of the year, then go to town and hire a 4X4. When the lake has water on it, it’s like a mirror and even more spectacular than on my photos. Good luck! 🙂

  4. Dan Gray says:

    Hey bud, I think Its so funny that you run into people in the weiredest places, on bicycles in the middle of nowhere. I wonder how many people are lost in remote places in the world and have been for years¿ 🙂

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