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Bolivia – Uyuni and Salt Pan

Published: 10.10.2016
Our plans receive significant blow once we found out at the terminus in Cochabamba that bus driving companies are on strike. This is nothing unusual in Bolivia. We spending there our second week and we happen to see second one. However, inhabitants and employees have good attitude towards it and they are hardly annoyed. We have ben told several times that such a strike lasts about three days at least. The last bus departs at 18:00 from the terminus. And then the strike begins! Some bus lines moved some were entirely closed. The same goes for the line to Potosi, our next stop. Therefore, we have to change plans in the last minute and take the last bus to Uyuni.

Our plans receive significant blow once we found out at the terminus in Cochabamba that bus driving companies are on strike. This is nothing unusual in Bolivia. We spending there our second week and we happen to see second one. However, inhabitants and employees have good attitude towards it and they are hardly annoyed. We have ben told several times that such a strike lasts about three days at least. The last bus departs at 18:00 from the terminus. And then the strike begins! Some bus lines moved some were entirely closed. The same goes for the line to Potosi, our next stop. Therefore, we have to change plans in the last minute and take the last bus to Uyuni.

ulice ve městě Uyuni

Uyuni is a remote town situated on altiplan (plateau) near the ridge of the Ands (at 3600 m) in  the southwest of Bolívia. We arrived there to see salt plan – Salar de Uyuni. The second part of Dakkar really took place there. We arrive at around 5 p.m. to the city. It was cold and dark there. Before I manage to put on all my clothes I have with me a lady in a thick jacket. I admire her. Every night she looks for tourists around here who are ariving to Uyuni to offer them her services. To reward her bravery we make arrangements for a trip to Salar de Uyuni (150 BOB/525 Czech Koruna). Moreover, we get a sale and a cup of hot coffee. After the sunrise, we enjoy the warmth. The town looks like some town that could easily be somewhere in the Wild West. Low buildings, wide and straight streets, wind and peaceful atmosphere. The busiest time of the day is around 9:30. All travel agencies start their jeeps to get their customers on the salt plan.

Salar de Uyuni – bílá poušť

těžba soli u města Colchani   Isla Incahuasi

We and other five people hop in the car and start our journey. We are heading to the train cemetery (Cementerio de Trenes) behind the town. We dpass
suvenýry v Colchani rusty steam engines and many tons of corroded carriages. Long time ago they transported silver along the first Bolivian railroad (it linked Uyuni and Antofagasta near the Pacific Ocean). Then we continued to Colchani town. There is an ongoing salt mine operation (up to 25 thousand tons of salt every year. Also there is a small salt museum. Now the town's prosperity comes from selling salt-themed souvenirs. All jeeps from Uyuni make a stop here to give tourists oportunity to look around. Then we start to ride on whiteplain stretching towards the horizon. Salar de Uyuni is the largest slatp lain in the world (ca. 11 000 km2) at 3650 m. We eat our lunch at Salt Hotel and enjoy the salty atmosphere. There is even a statue of Dakkar made of salt bricks. All the jeeps ride towards different directions after lunch. There is notly only one road going through there. Everyone can enjoy the white infinity and massive area. All of a sudden we find ourselves to be completely alone on the snow whie plain. I cannot comprehend where is everybody.

a statue of the famous Dakar at Salt Hotel

Cementerio de trenes   Isla Incahuasi

our farewells to the salt plain

I am quite surprised when looking out from the car. We ride in the same direction and it even doesn't seem that we are moving at all. I completely lost all sense of orientation. Isla Incahuasi island's contours are somewhere in front of me but it doesn't seem to be getting closer at all. The car rides at speed of 100 km/h for about 20 minutes. It means we covered about 33 kilometers along the flat plain in that time. But it doesn't look like we moved at all. Isla Incahuasi island known as Isla del Pescado is an island of about 24 ha. It is about 80 kilometers away and covered by huge cactuses of Trichocereus family. The admission fee is 30 BOB (105 Czech Koruna). The driver makes an hour long break here which gives us tim to walk around the island. All around there is an oceaon of hexagon plates of salt.

Trichocereus cactuses, Isla Incahuasi

We move to the flooded part of salt plain near Coqueza village. Once a year this plain happens to be under water which creates a huge nature-made mirror. The village rests under Tunupa volcano (5400 m). At the village, we observe flamingos and wait for the end of the day. The time goes quickly here and we have to get going back to Colchani. The driver make one more stop for us to enjoy the sunset when the last rays of the day's sun play with white plain. Once the sun gets below hte horizon and makes magical sky cold temperatures kick in.

vesnice Coqueza pod vulkánem Tunupa

What Machu Picchu means for Peru means Salar de Uyuni for Bolívia. It is country's main attraction luring myriads of tourists every day. Well, no wonder because Salar truly is a breathtaking place to see.

GPS: (Salar de Uyuni) 20°28'04.0"S 66°49'56.8"W

 

Text and photos: Tomáš Novák

 



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