Bolivia, Destination, South America

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

Mountains in South West Bolivia

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 flats of Uyuni.

Mud bubbling geysers, volcanoes (active and extinct) towering over vegetation, bereft desert puffing smoke signals out into the ether, 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 of Bolivia.

As far as destinations go, Bolivia 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 traveler 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

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36 thoughts on “The Salar de Uyuni and the Cordillera De Chichas – South West Bolivia

  1. Victor says:

    Like another planet, for sure!

    1. Like going to the moon but not having to pay a fortune to do so 🙂

  2. 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.

  3. ivan says:

    Wow! Amazing scenery and awesome shots!

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

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

    1. Have a wonderful trip Steve.

  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…

    1. Sounds like a best seller to me – all that hostile landscape to set a story in 🙂

  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.

    1. My job is done 🙂

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

    1. Amazing how barren can be so awe inspiring

  10. Tracy says:

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

  11. Thank you for all your comments 🙂

  12. Ruth says:

    Stunning photos 🙂

  13. Jessica says:

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

  14. 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!

    1. There is still time!

  15. 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

  16. Peter Reason says:

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

  17. I actually can’t remember – sorri.

    1. Erin says:

      No worries, the pics are beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Simon says:

    Nice…that looks like a landscape photographers wet dream.

  19. Chris Gray says:

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

  20. Shane says:

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

    1. 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?

  21. 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.

  22. 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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