The Salar de Uyuni and the Cordillera De Chichas – South West Bolivia

 Featured Writer – Sue Llewellyn

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.

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Life experiences have taught me not to take anything for granted and to enjoy the moment. My passions are travelling, photography and writing - oh and cake of course!

44 Comments to “The Salar de Uyuni and the Cordillera De Chichas – South West Bolivia”

  1. Mike Green says:

    Having been there once, a couple of years ago, I’m going back this year … ;-) Fantastic area and an entertaining post. As you say, it’s very well worth the slight discomforts of being there. (Just a note that approaching the other way, from Chile, is a large altitude rise, nearly 2,000m in general, pretty much unavoidably in one day – not always a comfortable thing to do!)

    • Thank you Mike, Lucky you I would love to revisit the salt plains when the water is on the ground as it makes for a reflective surface that is supposed to produce stunning photographs.

  2. Victor says:

    Like another planet, for sure!

  3. An extraordinary landscape. The second picture epitomises the word ‘surreal’.

  4. ivan says:

    Wow! Amazing scenery and awesome shots!

  5. Spectacular: looking forward to some travels in S. America this summer myself. Great stuff.

  6. gregoryno6 says:

    This is a place I will probably never visit, except in my imagination. But your pictures have given me plenty to work with. Crossing the red lake in the second pic, paddling a small boat… suddenly something large and scaly and very hungry breaks the surface…

  7. Fatima Saysell says:

    Stunning photography. So easy to forget how lucky we are living on this planet. I am always in awe at its beauty.

  8. Kat says:

    Your photos are beautiful and your description paints a picture so clear that I want to pack my bag and head out.

  9. Not a tree in sight. Definitely this stupendous place can’t be on Earth.

  10. Maralee says:

    Looks like an amazing place. Thanks for sharing. Beautiful photographs.

  11. Tracy says:

    I have to add this to my ever growing list of must see places. Amazing pictures!

  12. Thank you for all your comments :)

  13. What amazing photos – the light there is something else. I was there ten years ago, and remember marvelling at the super-long shadows cast on the salar.An extraordinary place – thanks for reminding me so vividly!

  14. Morgan says:

    this is the most beautiful/amazing place I have ever been! I felt like I had just walked into an episode of Planet Earth. So surreal.

  15. Ruth says:

    Stunning photos :)

  16. Jessica says:

    Oh wow, who knew that the world was actually this beautiful. I want to go to there.

  17. Giulia Billi says:

    In my year in Lat America I did not make it to Bolivia. I had my eyes set in exactly the places you visited, not just Uyuni, and now I see why I should have gone there!

  18. Mikie says:

    we did not make it to the salt flats of Bolivia, but did see Salinas Grandes in Salta Province, South America (2nd largest after Bolivia). It is hard to describe the utter, stark beauty, but your photos do a great job!! Good work.

    Aloha, Mikie

  19. Peter Reason says:

    What amazing photos.
    And what an awesome planet we live on!
    Thanks for posting.

  20. just kristy says:

    Amazing and beautiful photos!

  21. Erin says:

    Wow, what an amazing trip. I’ve always wanted to go to Bolivia. Who did you book your tour with?

  22. Alexey says:

    In my year in Lat America I did not make it to Bolivia. I had my eyes set in exactly the plcaes you visited, not just Uyuni, and now I see why I should have gone there!

  23. [...] Published at last! – Well sort of! Bucket list publications. The Salar de Uyuni and the Cordillera De Chichas – South West Bolivia Dear all,  my first published article.   Check out bucket list for more info on adventure and destination holidays at [...]

    • Mike says:

      I have never been to Bolivia but your images encourage me to travel to this country. A very appealing wordpress blod with abundant useful information, paired with ultimate innovation and art….thx

  24. Simon says:

    Nice…that looks like a landscape photographers wet dream.

  25. Chris Gray says:

    Have you seen the Daxia landforms in China? Worth a peek …

  26. Shane says:

    Salar de Uyuni is a wonderful place. Try to go during the rainy season. It’s amazing.

    • Robyn says:

      Shane – Thanks for your comment – this is late, but I’ve heard the roads can be dangerous during the rainy season – but you think it’s ok? What was it like on your trip?

  27. Robyn says:

    This is the best – most honest (?) – description I’ve heard yet. I didn’t know it could be so uncomfortable, although I heard the roads are rough. I’m in Bolivia now and unfortunately, won’t have time for the tour. It looks amazing and your pictures are wonderful! Best I’ve seen yet. There’s been a lot of rain lately – do you think that would impede a trip or make the roads more dangerous? Thanks again for a great description.

  28. Your photos are amazing. I’m backpacking around South America in the summer and this has high priority on my list of things to do :)

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