South East of Bolivia is the location of the biggest Salt Flat in the world, “Uyuni Salt Flat” (Salar de Uyuni). The crust of salt covers a surface of 10.582 Km2. of extension, at an altittude of 3.653 meters above sea level, like a static sea touched by southern winds. Surrounded by mountains and the sky like unique border, The Salar allows to observe images in suspension for the solar radiation, optic illusions and other amazing phenomenons. It’s conformed approximately by 11 layers, the first layer has a thickness of 10 meters and the experts consider that the lake has around 64 thousand million tons of salt.
This semidesertic region, of volcanic lands encloses in its interior natural resources of extraordinary beauty united by a surprising characteristic: the color. The Uyuni Salt Flat and the Heavenly, Yellow, Green, and Red lakes are its better exponents. These names are given because the different tones they exhibit due to the algae that contain each one, like the phitoplankton (dunaliella algae) as the movement of the wind and the specific time of the day.
Complementary there are geysers, rocky formations and volcanic peaks that makes you feel you are living in the earth formation era.
Like any other desert, the weather conditions in Uyuni Bolivia are extreme, from freezing night temperatures to fierce desert sun.
DAY 01: LA QUIACA/SAN PABLO DE LIPEZ.
You get to La Quiaca by bus from Jujuy or Salta in Northern Argentina.
La Quiaca in the imposing landscapes of the Puna, located to 3,442 m.a.s.l., in the Province of Jujuy, is demarcated by La Quiaca River that separates it from Bolivia. From La Quiaca, crossing the International Bridge (customs), it is possible to acced to the locality of Villazón, in the neighboring Republic of Bolivia. Tour goes to Mojo, Entre Rios, Tupiza. From Tupiza we ascend the beautiful Quebrada de Palala to El Sillar that has a fantastic moon landscape. Continuing to the mining areas of Nazarenito, Chilcobija, Cerrillos, Polulos, Rio San Pablo until we reach the village of San Pablo de Lipez. Lodging at Basic Refuge.DAY 02: SAN PABLO DE LIPEZ/LAGUNA COLORADA (RED LAGOON)
In the morning the tour departs to Quetena, where you can take a bath in the hot springs of Chalviri, Laguna Polques, Laguna Verde (Green Lagoon) is a beautiful green colored salt lake on the Chilean border at the foot of the volcano Licancabur. Its color is caused by sediments, containing copper minerals. It is elevated some 4.300m (14.000 ft) above sea level. On the way we shall visit the volcanic zone ‘Sol de Mañana’ (Morning Sun). Here, at 4850 metres, lies a geyser basin with bubbling mud pots, hellish fumaroles and a thick aroma of sulphur fumes. This is a site of intense volcanic activity. Inside a small crater we shall observe boiling lava, reminding us of the age in which the earth was formed. Arrival to Laguna Colorada. Laguna Colorada is a red colored salt lake, these lagoon is the main flamingos nesting site (flamingos at that high and cold altitude!) creating a very unique scene of spectacular beauty! . The red color of the lagoon and of the flamingos comes from the effect of the solar radiations and wind on the algae and plankton. We spend the night at another basic refuge.
DAY 03: LAGUNA COLORADA/SAN JUAN
From Laguna Colorada, the tour crosses de Desert of Siloli where de famous ¨Arbol de Piedra¨or ¨Stone Tree¨ can be seen. These fantastic deserts gather all the colors from browns, reds, oranges, brass, coffee and beige which are successively shown at every curve of the trip. Then it continues along the “Camino de las Joyas” (Jewels Road) with a chain of small lagoons: Ramaditas, Honda, Chiarkota, Hedionda, Cañapa, sanctuaries of 3 varieties of flamingos and other kinds of birds as andean seagulls and wild ducks. These birds live on the lagoons alongside of the volcanoes with their eternal snow on the top and their green sides mixed with other colors done by the borax and sulphur.
The tour passes by the foot of Volcano Ollague (always active), Tomasamil (5900 m.a.s.l.), and the Salar de Chiguana to conclude the day in San Juan or Chuvica Salt hotel.
The hotel is built completely of blocks of salt cut out of the lake; similar to how Eskimo’s cut snow to make their igloos, with a tin roof covered by straw. All the furniture (including beds) are also made of the salt blocks, with the toilets, lighting, and billiard table being the only things made of contemporary materials. Lodging at Salt Hotel
DAY 04: SAN JUAN/CHUVICA/UYUNI/TUPIZA
Early departure to enjoy sunrise on the salt lake of Uyuni. It takes about an hour drive from San Juan to the Salar de Uyuni (3650 m.a.s.l.). On the way the tour visits: Incahuasi Island in the centre of the Salar, with its giant cacti covering all of its surface, the tallest specimen on the island is over 12 metres; Ojos de Sal, holes in the Salar where a subterranean stream bubbles up through the salt. The First Salt Hotel, and an Iodized Salt Processing Plant in Kolchani. And finally arrive to Uyuni Salt Lake.Uyuni’s vast and glorious salt lake is the undisputed jewel in Bolivia’s arid crown. The seemingly infinite lake dazzling. Take a lot of pictures, because when you arrive back home and try to describe these incredible landscapes with words will be extremely difficult, so let photos do most of the talking.
The journey and our services end here or in Tupiza.