When planning a trip to South-America, no one should miss the chance to see the world’s largest salt-flat, “Salar de Uyuni” – the stunning salt-desert located in Boliva’s Potosi region.
Most offered trips take three to four days, as this area is packed with other spectacular sites, as well as the 10 meters thick salt layer that is like a mirror, reflecting the sky and everything else when it’s coated with a thin film of water during the wet season.
Travelers to the salt lake meet in Uyuni, the town where all tours through the desert either begin or end. Here is where you will also meet your future co-travelers – the lawyer who had a burn-out, the flight-attendant looking to pass time between flights, the pensioners experiencing a last stint of adventure before shaking danger off for ever and enjoying the luxury of Alaska Cruises, as well as the student on his gap-year before going to University.
In a jeep you will then start to chase the sun on the horizon until like a Fata Morgana, the horizon seems to disappear and the sky above starts to wrap itself around you until you seem to float in a vacuum of blue and white.
To either grasp that you are still very much on earth with both your feet firmly located on the ground or to simply enjoy the illusion of trance, stops are planned along the way in the middle of nowhere. No other human, no object built by mankind, no vegetation, and not even any other color apart from white and blue blocks your view.
My tip: bring along an mp3-player and well-adjusted head-set, go on a short hike away from the rest of the group, turn the volume up loud and dance. Dance as if there is no tomorrow, dance as if no one is watching, dance as if it is the first and last time of you life you ever get to dance. Be one with the music. No distractions, no worries, no dreams – just you and the sounds to loose yourself in. There is nothing better in the world.
Along the way you will also stop at some lagoons famous for their intense, mesmerizing shades of color and the flocks of flamingos and other wildlife in and around them, as well as a still active volcano by the name Uturuncu, and a fish-shaped island of cacti.
The freezing nights are so clear-skied that they allow you to see an array of stars that make you not want to go to sleep but continue watching how they slowly make their elliptic way from your feet, above your head, only to vanish into nothingness behind your back again
At least one night will be spent in a salt-hotel. That is a house built completely out of salt – the walls, the ceiling, the chairs, the beds – everything is made out of the gold of the Middle Ages.
Sleeping on salt whilst being surrounded by salt is a really unique experience which will stay with you forever because whilst forming this memory, all sensory modalities are actively involved and even the mere lingering of salty odor in the air will reactivate this souvenir of remembrance of your trip to the Salar de Uyuni, in Bolivia.
Guest Author: Nicole Rebeiro – When she is not fruit-picking in the south east of France, Nicole is a London-based travel writer with a passion for fine wine and exploration.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons, #1 Ronan Crowley, #2 Chechevere, #3 Luca Galuzzi, #4 Anouchka, #5 funkz, #6 Sayri