If you visit San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, you inevitably feel the pressure to give in and join a tour to Uyuni, Bolivia. This tops most bucket lists thanks to the renowned Uyuni salt flats, over 10,000 square kilometers and made famous through ridiculous photos on Instagram. Think optical illusions of dinosaurs, miniature humans, and whatever other accessory you can creatively position atop the snow white salt flats. Visiting Uyuni was already in our agenda but the actual logistics were arranged in town, as what is done. The tour is cheap: 3 days, 2 nights of strategically arranged travel with stops at lagoons, flamingos, mountains, and eventually, the salt flats. Most of which you spend in the company of several others jeeps barreling through the desert.
Thankfully, as hellish as that part sounded, our tour group quickly bonded and the rest of the groups out there kept their distance— which there is a lot of. Accommodation was adequate (we had our own room, with walls made out of salt, and Wifi the second night… fancy shit). Food was surprisingly delicious. And we were never in the jeep for very long before pulling over to admire yet another rock formation. This may have been due to the fact that we went with Estrella del Sur (by pure accident). Turns out, they have a fantastic reputation and attract the sort of folk we wholly embrace. Sure, not everything was paradise. For example, all of us— and me in particular— suffered from altitude sickness. I have never spent so long cradling my own head, silently praying for a quick death via spontaneous combustion.
But alas, Uyuni and the surrounding reserves and national parks were distinctly other worldly. And phenomenally scenic. I consider my brief brush with mountain madness, the overflowing toilets, and the impossibly chapped lips small sacrifices for the chance to see a land so void of life. So oddly colored. And so salty. Even if it costs Americans— and only Americans— a cool $160 in visa charges to see all this. Behold:
And for some fun videos: