The Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat and is located on the southwest edge of Bolivia near its border with Chile, and you can see it from miles away. Uyuni is located at an elevation of about 12,000 feet and this giant salar covers more than 4,000 square miles. It’s the remains of a giant saltwater lake that dried over centuries leaving a thick crystalline crust covering a layer of brine underneath. You can see the brine in places where there have been holes cut through the salt layer, which is strong enough to support motorcycles and trucks in most places. It’s such an incredibly unique environment.
We ride through Uyuni the town, stopping for gas, lunch and supplies, and then ride 15-20 miles north on the sand/dust road to Colchani. Then we turn west into the Salar which is a big improvement over the bull dust road since it feels like concrete. We see lots of worn paths in the salt and follow one west toward the Dakar sculpture and stop for photos. Not far from it is a salt hotel, made from blocks of salt. And of course, I’m a hotel person so I’m not gonna miss that.
The salt is really incredible to look at. I have to keep reminding myself it’s not ice, because that’s exactly what it looks like.
We ride out west of the hotel and find a place to camp. There are some basic facilities out at Incahuasi/Fish Island but we opt to “rough it” out on the flat itself. Winds are kicking up and make putting up the tent and getting dinner cooked on the camping stove a little more challenging but we make do.
The sunset out on the wide open white space is gorgeous.
And the next morning’s sunrise isn’t too shabby either…
One of the fun things about the Salar is that people take really cool perspective shots that you just can’t get in other places. Brian and I try a few in the early morning, but the shadows are weird and we decide to wait until later in the day, but sadly when we get riding and get to the other side we don’t make the time to stop and try some more.
Instead we make our way west toward the other side of the Salar, nearly 40 miles from our camp on the salt roads.
We follow Pocket Earth, as there is nothing showing in the GPS, to find our way to the other side and find a way out of the flats. The edges can be surrounded by sand and scrub brush so we luck out when the iPhone app leads us out the other side at Tanil Vinto and onto a sand ramp that the local trucks use to get out onto the salt.