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BOLIVIA : SALAR DE UYUNI, THE WORLD’S LARGEST SALT FLAT

Uyuni in Bolivia is the most isolated and most quiet town I’ve been to. Is it worth the travel?

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My breakfast in Cusco, Peru before leaving for Uyuni via La Paz, Bolivia.

WHAT ? 

My main game plan in visiting Uyuni in Bolivia was to experience Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat.  After booking an entire day tour with Red Planet through series of emails sent a month before my trip, I was thankful that they did not required any reservation fee as they only issued voucher of confirmation. Surprisingly, the package that I availed included not only an English-speaking-guided tour to the famous salt flat but also to Train Cemetery, Isla Incahuasi, full course lunch, a visit to small salt factory, a visit to a hotel built in salt bricks, and meeting 3 other fellow travelers whose mindsets were the same.

The day tour from Red Planet costs 60 USD per person or 420 Bolivianos per person (as of August 2015 rates). Red Planet clearly stated in their email confirmation that they require check in at their office (which is located walking distance away from my accommodation), latest at 8:30AM for the 11AM to 6PM day tour. This facilitated the checking of travel documents (passport), and registration for the tour. They also have 2-day-tour and 3-day-tour-packages.

HOW ? 

As Philippine passport holders, no visa is required for us in Bolivia. To get to Uyuni, I took flights from (Lima to) Cusco in Peru, to La Paz, Bolivia. Upon arriving in Aeropuerto Internacional El Alto in La Paz, I took a 45-minute-local flight via Amaszonas Airlines to Uyuni. I booked my flights via Skyscanner (Be aware that most tickets, if not all purchased from a third party in Skyscanner, may be cheaper that usual but are not refundable, non-transferrable). Alternatively, you may take a bus from La Paz to Uyuni however, it would take longer time of travel apparently.

WHERE?

I stayed in La Petite Porte Hotel, Uyuni, Bolivia located in Avenue Ferroviaria No. 742 between Colombia Street and Loa Street in Uyuni. It’s very accessible as it’s located along the main road; the hotel is near to a public market, souvenir stalls, bank with ATM machine, pizzeria and other affordable eateries, and best, it’s only less than 20-minute-away from the airport! I pre-booked La Petite Porte Hotel online through their website for 85 USD per night, for 3 days and 2 nights. Upon reservation, the French owner, Christophe via email, requested me to pay the fee for the first night through PayPal, and then the remaining fee for my second night to be paid upon arrival. Fair deal! I also pre-arranged with Christophe an airport pick up and transfer (cost : 15 Bolivianos per person or less than 3 USD per trip); however you may opt to take either public bus or taxi cabs as you prefer.

The fee of 85 USD per night was well worth it! Fast and free wifi access in the room and the common areas of the hotel, spacious room, nice interiors, comfortable bed and pillows, en suite hot and cold shower and toilet, clean and almost spotless facilities. The accommodation, the rooms, the set breakfast that’s included in the hotel rates, the service, the hospitality of his Bolivian wife, Janet who nodded in an instant to do my laundry (for only 50 Bolivianos) even if they do not offer it, were truly remarkable!

I ate my dinner meals in a pizzeria which is a stone’s throw-away from La Petite Porte Hotel. They make  the best-tasting hand-tossed-pizza that’s freshly prepared and oven-baked by an Italian chef upon order.

WHEN ?

I visited Uyuni (and La Paz), Bolivia last August 2015, after I went to Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Iguazu in Brasil, and following my trip to Cusco (with 1 day devoted to visiting Machu Picchu), and Lima in Peru. I took advantage of my 2-week-leave from work to visit those personally chosen South American cities for the first time, after considering the budget, the distance and the weather. They say the best climate in Uyuni comes between July and October however, if you plan to visit Salar de Uyuni during rainy seasons between March and April, you’ll have a great chance to see the salt flats wet, appearing like gigantic mirrors on the face of the Earth!

WHY ?

Why go? I say, why not? Bolivia is relatively affordable compared to other Latin American countries. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to set foot in the world’s largest salt flat that offers 360-degree-of-uninterrupted view! I knew it would be an extraordinary experience; something that’s magical and surreal! For someone who’s currently living in Dubai, UAE where part of the routine is seeing the impressive skyscrapers, including no less than the world’s tallest, Burj Khalifa, at almost every single day of the week, traveling for more than 14 hours, all the way down to the utterly sleepy and isolated town of Uyuni, was truly one for the books!

Here are 88 photos from Uyuni, Bolivia that may tell a thousand stories.

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Smaller plane than expected. Amaszonas Airlines took me to Uyuni from La Paz, Bolivia.

The Sights From Above

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Clouds and snow-capped mountains are a sight to behold!
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I used to cross land borders via buses in Asia, but you don’t get this view with such!
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Handsome topography that only God can make!
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If this doesn’t appeal to you, I don’t know what beauty is!
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First sight of La Paz, Bolivia!
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The mountains really know how to show-off!
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Perks of sitting on a window seat!
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Something you don’t see on a daily basis!
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Beautiful, isn’t it?
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Fantastic horizon!
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Almost there.
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Another city. A new country for me!

Touchdown : La Paz, Bolivia!

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The highest international airport and 5th highest commercial airport in the world!
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The clouds in Bolivia are of export-quality! Hahaha! Seriously, gorgeous!
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The view outside the terminal’s simply breathtaking!
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But the pork chops inside the airport was satiating!

Le Petite Porte Hotel, Uyuni, Bolivia

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The wooden door and humble facade of my home for 3 days 2 nights in Uyuni, Bolivia.
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The reception area. Simple, yet friendly and functional.
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Books, magazines and DVD may be borrowed for free! DVD player’s available in the room.DSCF7292DSCF7296
My favourite part: the dining area, what else! I liked how it’s designed. It screams local!DSCF7298
My breakfast! I love Bolivian bread! I love the coffee, the bacon, basically, everything!
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Before braving the 4 degrees and wolfing down the first meal of the day! Picture! Haha!
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The hallway to the few rooms. Like! Like! Like!

My room in Salar de Uyuni

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My first room, before I was transferred to another the next night. What a mess, right?
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On my second day, I was transferred to another room that I liked better.
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Bed’s bigger, but my mess remained the same. Hahaha! At least, I don’t sugarcoat! Haha!
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Thumbs up to the toilet and shower!
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Warning : Don’t try this mess at home, kids! Just don’t! Hahaha!
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Loved the local vibe of the hallway! No pretensions, just simplicity at its best!

On way to Red Planet Travel Agency

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En route to the Red Planet with my loyal travel buddy, @gelothebear (stalk him on Ig!)
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After registration and check in, we walked to souvenir shops! Shopped, shopped, shopped! Before you think I burned my limited pocket money, I bought a liter of distilled water for the trip and a few postcards and fridge magnets only.

Train Cemetery

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Day tour on 4×4 with 3 other travelers, a driver and a tour guide started in Train Cemetery.
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Trains were abandoned in this deserted place after mining industry collapsed in 1940.
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It remains to be one of the must-see-places in Uyuni.
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*Insert my selfie there*
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If only these rusted train parts could speak.
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Salt Factory and in lunch at Salt Hotel

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Before heading further, we stopped for bladder break and a visit to a salt factory.
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Inside the salt factory with my travel mates for the day.
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Then we walked to nearby salt hotel. All bricks used were made of salt!
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Our lunch prepared and brought by staff of Red Planet. Apple crumble not in photo.
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3 Brits and an Asian. My travel mates in Salar de Uyuni : Charles, Zach and Mr.John.

Finally, Salar de Uyuni!

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The ancient lake became dried and evaporated leaving the entire area a massive salt flat.
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The number of 4×4 vehicles and volume of tourists were no match to its vastness!
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Where all flags meet. Too bad, I failed to bring our own banner from The Philippines!
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A few months after, someone tagged me on Instagram to show there’s our flag already.
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I still wish I brought the flag myself or at least, @gelothebear, hahaha!
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Uninterrupted blinding beauty! Unbelievable horizon!

Perspective fun shots at Salar de Uyuni

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Godzilla attacked us! Hahaha!
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Someone must defend the salt flat from Godzilla. Wait, that’s me, eh?!
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Unleashing the street fighter in me! Hahahaha!
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Prepare to attack! Bite those lips, hahahaha!DSCF7525
Here’s my Facebook and Instagram-worthy flying kick! No camera trick! I kid you not!
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At some point, we became friends! Hahaha!
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Zach and Charles are English backpackers, touring the world for 3 months went cray cray!
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What’s a photoshoot without a jump shot? Hahaha! First attempt – epic fail!
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How did our tour guide created those perspective shots? THIS! 
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I requested for some sort of class picture, they wanted a jump a shot. Fine!
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One more time? Game!
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It was a privilege to set foot in Salar de Uyuni. Thank you, Universe!
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Then my alter-ego, @gelothebear, had his own photoshoot moments.
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And there I  was. Looking at the endless horizon, trying to be lyrical, taking it all in!

Isla Incahuasi

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We left that spot and went further to Isla Incahuasi.
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Entrance fee was 30 Bolivianos (as of August 2015).
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So what’s there in Isla Incahuasi?
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Rock formation that you can trek in the middle of the salt flat with humongous cacti!
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We went back to the office of Red Planet and ended our day at 5PM. It was so much fun!

What sustained me in Uyuni, Bolivia.

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Freshly backed pizza, local beer and soda sustained me every dinner for 2 nights!

Uyuni on high!

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No, I did not have chopper tour unlike in Brasil; shots were taken from my window seat en route back to La Paz.
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How often do I see snow-capped mountains by my window? So much to be thankful for!
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Hello again, La Paz!

Uyuni may have been the most modest and the most isolated town I’ve been to, but I’ll revisit anytime if I get a chance. It’s worth the distance!

This South American Travel Blog Series includes :

*All photos in this blog series were taken using Fujifilm X-A2. These posts were not sponsored.

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17 Comments

  1. Ed Ed

    Galing Doc. Ang ganda ng photos!

    • Salamat, Ed! 😊

  2. Looked so desolate with no hint of vegetation. I don’t want to be stranded there at night. 🙂
    Great photos!

    • I cannot imagine being in Salar de a Uyuni beyond sunset.

      Thanks, Mich for reading my blog.

    • I know. At least last September someone planted Philippine flag there already.

  3. Love reading from your blog. I’m from Malaysia. Wish one day I can visit to the place that you shared in your blog here.

    • Terima kasih for reading my blog!

  4. Grabe…Grabe…Grabe! Words I repeatedly uttered while reading your post and seeing the amazing photos Doc! Hands down talaga!

    • Wow! Thank you! 🙂

      • The colors Doc, the sharpness, the angles! Galing!!!

  5. a lot of eye candy! what a spectacular trip.

    • Thanks, Maria! 😊

  6. I like your travel buddy – hindi mariklamo at madaldal LOL.

    • I hope you’re not describing your own travel buddy. No further comment. Hehehe

  7. witsandnuts witsandnuts

    You and your buddy bear (with a Starwars shirt I saw on IG) are going through places! Bolivia and other places always ring a bell. But it is good to discover these countries from your/a wanderer’s point of view.

    • And @gelothebear’s StarWars shirt seems remarkable ha?! Thanks, Jo! Bolivia is nice; I had a great time as it’s totally new place and fresh experience for me.

      We’ll be Russia at the end of November! 😊

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