The overnight bus down to Uyuni had cold and dry air, awful food, and narrow seats – basically what one would expect from this form of travel. As a bonus, it was also late thanks to some mechanical issue. We sat for an hour waiting on a replacement bus to show up, only to realize that we were requisitioning some other people’s bus. This was made hilarious to us when one of the other guys questioned ‘so we’re getting on a broken bus?’ which they very much were. No idea what happened to them, but we continued on through the night. We ran into an alpaca llamas.
The final few hours were spent on some bumpy, unpaved road but we arrived at last. My research told me that it was best to book a tour upon arrival so that we could save some money. This info proved good, and we set ourselves up for a day trip costing a third of the La Paz price. After charging our electronics and gathering the rest of the day’s crew, we were off.
The first stop was the ho-hum train cemetery, where we were able to walk around and admire some old broken cars and boilers. These rails were long used for transporting the salt to Santiago, but had some time ago fallen into disuse. It wasn’t the most exciting place to be, but I still gave it the thumbs up.
After making another pass through town, we were finally on our way to the largest salt flat in the world, the Salar de Uyuni. We started by going to where they were actively harvesting the salt. This process involved creating shallow pools where the water could collect and form crystals, which were raked into piles for drying and later collection. It was the first of many unique landscapes. These reflections aren’t quite the same as during rainy season, but still really cool!
The setting offered an incredible opportunity for photos. Because everythinrg is so flat, and also because there is nothing at all on horizon. It makes it easy to toy with perspective and otherwise just look cool.
Our day trip progressed onward from there and we drove about 40km out into the middle of a vast expanse of white. The only things that managed to fit between the salt and the sky were some specks of other cars and a couple mountains. This void of nothingness is the size of New Jersey. It would be very possible let to get lost in this limbo.
The only variation to the whole area was an island formed ages ago by volcanic activity, back then this area used to be a sea. The whole place was covered in enormous cacti, stooding in stark contrast to everything else. We continued to explore the island a bit and learned that the oddly textured rocks were actually all the remains of coral. This bizarre place felt not of this earth.
We made the trip back to town, where we had only a couple hours before our return bus to La Paz. Had we more time, this could have been done across three days and included some other stops, but even a single day of exploring here was worthwhile. I don’t think that Parker could have handled two more days of it anyway…
We boarded the bus again and were off, and I slept like a baby the whole way back to the capitol.