​Salar de Uyuni: Bolivia’s Magical, Mirror-like Salt Flat Oasis (2018 Dakar Rally & Crazy Photos)

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Good afternoon everyone, I hope you enjoyed reading about the cable cars (Mi Teleférico) in La Paz, Bolivia. Luckily, the Salar de Uyuni salt flats are way more amazing than the cable cars. I have several photos at the bottom of this post that will have you scratching your head, saying, “How did they do that?!” In this post, I will share the details and cost of our guided tour, show what was provided by the tour and share some of my favorite photos from the salt flats. Let’s go!

We took off from La Paz International Airport (LPB) on a cold, cloudy morning with snow covered mountain peaks in the distance.

After a short ~50 minute flight, we arrived at Salar de Uyuni International Airport (UYU) in southern Bolivia.  The landscape was much browner and more desert-like than I was expecting.

We met our tour company at the airport and they drove us to their office in town (~10 minute drive). We used Esmeralda Tours and the cost was 200 Bolivianos per person (~$28.90). As of January 22, 2018, $1.00 = 6.9 Bolivianos. We also had to arrange a private transfer back to the Salar de Uyuni International Airport (UYU) because our flight time changed by a few hours. The private transfer was 100 Bolivianos per person (~$14.45). The tour owner/operator was Yaneth (Janet) and she was extremely helpful with organizing the tour, coordinating our private airport transfers, and quickly answering all of our questions.  After we paid for our tour and private airport transfers, we had about an hour before the tour left. We walked around a little bit and got some food next door.  The town is pretty small with lots of hostels and backpackers all around.

Our tour left promptly at 10:30am and Max was our driver / tour guide. He spoke a little English, but knew the salt flats like the back of his hand. On our tour, we also had 4 engineering students from UC Berkeley on Winter Break, who were very nice and fun to be around.  After a few minutes, we made our first stop to an abandoned rail car lot in the desert. The rail cars were in various stages of decay, so I didn’t feel like climbing on top of them to get a better view of the surrounding area.

We then drove to the Salar de Uyuni salt flats (~45 minutes away from the rail cars).  There were many cars driving on the salt flats and people taking pictures.  Lots of people walked barefoot on the salt flats (there was .5 to 1 inch of water on top of the salt flats).  Since the sun was not very bright, we did not get a perfect mirror-like reflection in most of our photos, but the salt flats were still very incredible.

Driving on the salt flats feels like driving on a wet road, but much safer than driving on ice.  Max was a very good driver.  We also saw a few other cars with people sitting on the roof of the car as the car drove on the salt flats.

Here is a short video I took from our car of driving on the salt flats:

The 2018 Dakar Rally passed through Uyuni a day before we arrived.  It is a big rally race throughout South America.  There were lots of salt statues created for the rally.

We had lunch at the Palacio de Sal (Palace of Salt) hotel in the middle of the salt flats. Outside the hotel, there were flags of all the countries that participated in the 2018 Dakar Rally.

Max prepared a delicious meal of cucumbers, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, quinoa, and lamb.  It was very good and I ate every last bite.

If you want to stay at the Palacio de Sal, here are photos of a room.  There were 3 full beds in this room.  I’m sure the other rooms look much nicer than this room.

After lunch, we drove ~20 minutes away to find a dry, isolated spot on the salt flats.  When we got here, we took some amazing photos using Jim’s iPhone 8 Plus and the props that Max brought.  Here are some of my favorite photos:

After that, we drove another ~20 minutes to find a reflective part of the salt flats.

Here is a 360 degree view of the salt flats that I took.  We are really in the middle of nowhere.

At this point, our private airport transfer came to get us and drove us back to Salar de Uyuni International Airport (UYU).  At this point, I started to realize that I got a major sunburn on my face and neck.  Ouch!  Please remember to BRING and USE sunscreen during your time at Salar de Uyuni.  It took 4 flights to get to Salar de Uyuni, but it was worth the trip.  If you have any questions about the salt flats, please leave a comment below.  Have a great day everyone!

Here are all parts of my Central / South America trip:

4 thoughts on “​Salar de Uyuni: Bolivia’s Magical, Mirror-like Salt Flat Oasis (2018 Dakar Rally & Crazy Photos)

  1. Kate

    Enjoyed the post! Did you feel you had enough time there… I certainly wouldn’t want to stay in the room you showed. Are there way better accommodations?

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      We flew into Salar de Ayuni in the morning and flew out later that day, so we didn’t do any reasearch on hotel rooms. Plenty of hostels and probably decent Airbnbs, but I didn’t see any chain hotels there. Most tour companies provide day tours as well as 2, 3, and 4 day tours. We didn’t consider anything more than a day tour, but there are a few choices.

      Reply
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