If ever there was a place where one could imagine being on a different planet, it has to be the in the surreal high altitude landscapes of Southwest Bolivia and the spectacular blinding white salt plains of Uyuni.
Mud bubbling geysers, volcanoes (active and extinct) towering over vegetation bereft desert puffing smoke signals out into the ether or displaying multi-coloured half exploded craters and stunning bright red, yellow and green chemical laden lakes, so toxic that the only wild life able to roam freely on them are the flamingos, are just some of the sights to be seen in this remote area.
As far as destinations go, this has to be one of my best experiences whilst travelling around South America. We arrived in Uyuni from Potasi after a long bus haul and, once settled in, immediately started polling other backpackers about their tourist operator preferences. Three hours later, having found a room, taken a turn around the small town, checked out companies, eaten in the small mall of restaurants and listened to fellow traveller stories, we booked a 3 day tour for the next day. The journey covers the Salar de Uyuni , Laguna Colarada, Sol de Mana geyser basin, Termas de Polques, Laguna Verde and the dramatic Volcan Licancabur.
This is not a trip for the faint-hearted or picky eater. The round trip is long and extremely bumpy, nights are freezing and the days are hot, accommodation is shared, the bedding dubious and the showers ice-cold. So go prepared, take food and drink supplies, warm bedding and clothing, tissue wipes, hand sanitizer, toilet paper and plenty of batteries for the camera …… and book a room for when you get back because boy are you going to need a shower! But the inconvenience of all these things palls into insignificance when sitting under the cold silent star laden sky at night with a bottle of wine and newly made friends, being steamed cleaned by the geysers at dawn as the sun rises, or having lunch by multi-coloured lakes dotted with hundreds of pink bobbed flamingos.
This is a bucket list destination that you don’t want to miss.
Featured Writer – Sue Llewellyn