It’s 04:40 in the morning, we are surrounded by impenetrable darkness, the cars are loaded and they pass through the water of the salt flat. It is still raining.
We have no idea how our drivers know our position and the direction to drive in. Imagine driving in a fog with 10 cm visibility. It is so flat and dark that you just have to know where North is and you can turn off the headlights and drive. At one moment our drivers got disorientated and decided to wait for the sunrise in order to ensure our safety.
We waited about 30 minutes. It was wet and cold, but, as it turned out, we had been waiting for the most amazing views for our eyes and the most unforgettable moments for our hearts. We’ll let the photos talk for themselves…
Yes, the water outside was more than 2-3 cm deep and underneath the pentagons of the forming salt made it appear as if you are inside of an object under a microscope. The reflecting surface of the water made earth and sky meld into one and it was absolutely beautiful.
Johnny was on the roof of the jeep, observing the area. “Have we finished taking photos, friends?” he said with a smile, ”It is time to head for the island. Now we know where we are and we are the only two cars which had the courage and skill to come here today.” The rain stopped and we drove boldly while dancing and singing our anthem. Later we were joined by another car and we were the only visitors of Incahuasi Island and the mirror landscape of the salt flat. We even met dozens of other tourist pick-up trucks coming from Uyuni who asked if the weather was favorable and if they could pass. Almost our own private salt flat. Unique.
Isla Incahuasi was like a mini mountain in the middle of nowhere. It was covered in huge beautiful cacti.
It takes about 40-50 minutes of walking with taking photos to climb one side to the top and come down on the other side. There a lot of views, even a mirror image of the mountain, resembling the one of Paramount Pictures (we have all seen it in the beginning of movies).
Once we come down another delight awaits us. Johnny has served delicious breakfast on chairs and a table made of salt.
We go for a walk through the mirror landscape.
After a while Johnny comes back to pick us up and show us how he drives the car from outside. This trick became the attraction for the people in the other two cars. He even hopped out while the jeep was moving, ran after it and then climbed back in. It was time for someone to travel on the roof. Why not Nace? It’s delightful and when Johnny speeds up – cold. Till the end of the day our favorite Polish man traveled up there and Johnny drove slowly. In the end he said he liked it a lot, just great.
Next stop, the endless salt flat, without any water. The perfect place for wacky photos.
We continue on our 120-kilometer itinerary through the salt flat for the day. We stop at the monument of Dakar Rally and its starting line in Bolivia – the salt flat.
The Bolivians are very proud to have a rally in their territory and even prouder after their representative won third place. Everybody is obsessed with it. The famous salt hotel was there. Nothing more than our salt hotel, except it is situated in the center of the salt flat and is very expensive.
On the way out we saw how they gather the salt in piles, load it in trucks and send it for processing before it enters the stores. The place is known as Montones de Sal.
This is it. 120 km in the salt flat passed imperceptibly and now we are outside, stopping for souvenirs and on to the train cemetery. Huge old train compositions gather rust under the sun and complement the landscape with its low-hanging clouds, which melt with the horizon.
Our journey ended in at an altitude of 3656m in the small town of Uyuni, where we had lunch at the house of the director of the agency.
After all, we had a bit of a bad experience with the aforementioned director. When in Bulgaria we had asked her to book us tickets for the train to Oruro so we can get to La Paz from there. The booking was confirmed by the office in San Pedro. However, when we went to the train station to get our tickets it turned out they hadn’t been booked. We were forced to reconsider our plans and go to La Paz with an old run-down bus, which smelled of toilets. Thanks god, the driver was crazy and took the distance within 10 hours instead of 12. It must be pointed out that 85% of the road was like in the desert, with no asphalt and many potholes.
Before that we witnessed a unique phenomenon for the modern world in Uyuni – for almost a full day all communications, the Internet and phones were cut off. Thus, they couldn’t give us our already paid flight tickets, we couldn’t draw money, etc. No matter, we came back with unique experience and emotions form out trip to the salt flat. Everything else was secondary as well as Bistra’s phone, which went missing on the first day of the journey…
This article was brought to you in English by Marta Petrova.
Do you like this post?
Travel together with us and get instant updates on our Facebook page.