1.) The Ride
Getting from La Paz to Uyuni involves a 12 hour, bone-rattling bus ride. The road is unpaved and it shakes the bus violently. You won’t be able to close the windows and dust will bellow into the bus cabin. You won’t sleep the entire trip.
“What’s so great about that?” you ask. It’s simple…adversity is the underpinning of memory. We relish a victory when we fight hard for it; and we forget about the prize that came easy. I guarantee that you’ll remember the bus ride to Uyuni; conversely, you’ll forget about the time you spent in the air-conditioned lobby of the Marriott.
2.) The Altitude
Salar De Uyuni is located at 12,ooo feet. So you’ll be light headed, wandering around with a slightly-stoned feeling. You’ll be removed from your conscious mind, forced to deal with the natural world. You’ll be pulled into the setting in a very direct way. It’s like Woodstock, minus the green acid.
The altitude makes the experience more intense. The is not a Disney Ride, a short, two-minute burst of make believe. You’re in the tumultuous Andes, high above the rest of the world. And there’s the danger of sorochi – an illness caused by exposure to high elevations. The ever-present danger of Uyuni makes it all the more special.
3.) The Physical Beauty
Uyuni is natural beauty, the power of earth on display. The white expanse stretching out for as far as the eye can see – pure, blinding whiteness. Nothing like it on earth. That’s what makes Uyuni so great: it’s a one-of-a-kind experience that can’t be replicated.
Note the two best times to go to Uyuni; once during the dry season, and once during the wet season. When its dry, you can race atop the salt flat on a jeep (as seen below).
When it rains, puddles form atop the flats. This creates for some amazing photo options, as the sky will majestically reflect atop the watered salt pans (as seen below). This means that you need two trips to really “do” Uyuni.
4.) The Salt Hotel
The Salt Hotel is located in the middle of the flats. It’s a mandatory stopover for any trip, given it’s unique location. You can stay the night, gazing at a million stars above.
Some hotels are all about the location – the Salt Hotel is one of them. Note that the hotels in the nearby town are not great, so you might as well stay at the Salt Hotel. You’re not missing out on anything in town.
5.) The People of Uyuni
As you leave Uyuni, you’ll notice the trademark of Bolivia: the people. They are the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Their poverty doesn’t come from failure in the Western marketplace; it comes from their genuine adherence to the ancient ways. They are stoic and unique. A trip to Bolivia would not be complete without them.
A trip to the salt flats of Bolivia is mandatory. It’s a place where nature reigns supreme, where you witness a unique spectacle of beauty. And its remote location makes it all the more special.
If everyone could visit easily, it would not be unique.