The Salar de Uyuni tour was something I hotly anticipated to be special as it had been bigged up and recommended by almost everyone I knew who had been on it. There are a few different tour options for it, including day tours and week tours.
But when I was in La Paz I calculated that the 3 day tour was best for me, and fitting well with my schedule to make it to the Inca Trail over Christmas, as I could easily get a border bus to Peru and an extra full day in La Paz after the Salar De Uyuni tour.
For those that don’t know, the south western corner of Bolivia is a wilderness – and one at high altitude at that! It contains. desert, salt plains, mountains, volcanoes, lakes and rocky terrains. It is a simply beautiful part of planet earth.
I booked the tour at the Wild Rover hostel (which also doubles up as the highest Irish Pub on the planet by the way!) in La Paz. I used a tour company called Expediciones Alkaya based in Uyuni – I would arrive in Uyuni the night before the tour – hadn’t even booked at hostel in Uyuni, until a few hours before I left Potosi.
But once I had booked the tour, everything else fell into place quite easily, as they often do. I would get a night bus from La Paz to Potosi via Oruro, spend a day in Potosi (the world’s highest city), doing the mining tour and checking out the city, then head to Uyuni for the Salar de Uyuni 3 day tour.
I got my Bolivian friend Zelinda to book me into Hospedaje El Salvador in Uyuni, merely because I had the phone number for it, and she could phone them for me and book it. I didn’t have access to internet at that point so this, and turning up on the night was the only way I could have booked a hostel. And I didn’t want to risk turning up and getting a hostel on the spot this time, considering the fact that my bus was due to arrive around midnight, in a new city. I could easily have found myself locked out for a night. Hardly decent preparation for a mega trip, or indeed worth the risk considering the dangers at night I could have faced being alone in Uyuni.
So to cut that long story short I awoke safe and well in the courtyard style Hospedaje El Salvador in Uyuni, ready for the Salar De Uyuni trip!
By total chance, my tour company Expediciones Alkaya was right next door to the hostel, so after breakfast, packing, e-mail checking and grabbing some supplies of food and water, I waited in reception for the Salar de Uyuni 4×4 Jeep 3 Day Tour.
It was there that I met Jorge and Thomas, two Swiss guys. We talked about where we had been travelling before, they had come the opposite way from me, having just done The Inca Trail and Lake Titicaca. Then I met Alina, from Romania and Guillaume and Benoit from France. Plus the Bolivian driver Christian and the chef and assistant Wilma. This would be our group of 8 for the next 3 exciting days!!
We put our stuff on the roof rack, including Jorge and Thomas’s surfboards. And we were off!
We left behind the dusty Uyuni, done all our introductions to each other and decided we would use Spanish as our language for the 3 days. We toyed with French and English as well. But I knew a decent bit of French and Spanish, and the two tour guides knew only Spanish. The others were excellent at French, Spanish and English. It was nice to be having to try out my Spanish properly again – it came in useful and I had to think of words during every conversation – I picked up quite a bit of vocabulary and knowledge thanks to Thomas who helped me out. Our first stop on the tour would be on the edge of Uyuni itself and was to be the Cementario Des Trens…a graveyard of trains basically!
I Came From These Cities – La Paz, Oruro, Potosi
From – Uyuni to…Cementario Des Trens
Nationalities Met – Bolivian, Swiss, French, Romanian
Where I Stayed – Hospedaje El Salvador, Uyuni
Company I Used – Expediciones Alkaya, Uyuni
Transport Used – Trans Emperador Bus, 4 x 4 Jeep
Key Song –
R.E.M. – Low Desert:
My Videos –
BUS FROM POTOSI TO UYUNI:
STAYING AT HOSPEDAJE EL SALVADOR:
MAIN SQUARE IN UYUNI, BOLIVIA:
FIRST PART OF JEEP TRIP, UYUNI TO COLCHANI: