Uyuni to Atacama tour: 3 days on the road

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Uyuni to Atacama tour: 3 days on the road

Time to start our 3-day Uyuni Atacama excursion. We are now in Uyuni, and yesterday we saw an amazing sunset at the salar followed by a fantastic (and cold!) stargazing experience.

And although great, this was just a glimpse of what we were about to get over the next 3 days and 2 nights. Our plan was to go from Uyuni Atacama (the village of San Pedro de Atacama), trying to enjoy what this unique part of the globe has to offer to the fullest. This would also not be much more than booking a bus from A to B, but would certainly mean missing out the beautiful nature in between.

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Our tour company was the same as on the previous day, Hodaka Mountain. They did a pretty good job in avoiding the road blocks and taking us to the wet part of the salar. We heard that not many tour companies take their clients to that part of Uyuni, but Hodaka was more reliable.

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Apart from us there were 4 more people, plus the driver, in the jeep from Uyuni to Atacama. The first day looked like it would be more easy going, spending more time at the Salar de Uyuni, and the following two days would be a bit more exciting, leaving very early in the morning and seeing desert, volcanoes, geysers, etc.

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Our journey from Uyuni Atacama started at a cemetery!

The first stop of our Uyuni Atacama excursion was the Cementerio de Trenes (Train cemetery), about half an hour from our hotel in Uyuni. This was certainly the part of the day that Noah enjoyed the most. He got to climb up on very old, disused trains and play in them. Boy, was he excited! We also enjoyed it very much, but in a more contained way 🙂

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Family Travel Secret
This was the first train station to be built in Bolivia in 1929, and after that trains became a widely-used mode of transport as they were the one of the fastest ways to transport products and people from one city to another. It was a bit expensive though, as the charcoal that was used as fuel was imported from the US and Europe. Over time trains have become obsolete, and this cemetery is a consequence of that.

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The next stop was the small village of Colchani. This is an ideal place for tourists who want to buy some souvenirs from Bolivia at lower prices. There are small kiosks selling clothes and products made from Alpaca, as well as products made from the salt in the region. There’s even a small museum built of salt. It was interesting, but to be honest if it was up to us we would’ve skipped this stop.

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And now we are back at the Salar on our journey from Uyuni Atacama

We drove for about half an hour more and then we were back in the middle of the salar, but this time the solid part. This scenery is impressive at any time of day.

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Family Travel Secret
It’s just amazing to imagine that that whole piece of land was once, about 6000 years ago to be precise, covered by water. About 4000 years ago the water started to dry out leaving a lot of salt at the bottom. And now after the rainy season each year the water evaporates, leaving a few centimeters of salt.

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These almost 11,000 square meters of land have become a source of income for local people and one of the most sought-after attractions in Bolivia for tourists. It is a pity, though, that the locals can’t get much money from it. Salt in Bolivia is very cheap (about 50kg costs approximately BOB 12) and it is not exported.

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If you have some time you should definitely sit and behold the surroundings, with mountains on the horizon and a plain covered in white.

But obviously we couldn’t leave without taking some funny shots …

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A little bit further on we reached the Palacio de Sal, the first hotel in Bolivia made of salt, which has now been converted into a museum and is a place where tourists stop to eat.

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That’s where we had our lunch, prepared by our guide (llama meat, vegetables and salad). It was very simple, and enough to give us more energy for the rest of the day.

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Our last stop on our Uyuni Atacama journey, before going to our lodgings for the night, was what is known as Isla Pescado (fish island) but is actually called Incahuasi. Entry costs BOB 30 and it is definitely worth the money.

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Family Travel Secret
This was an island back when Uyuni was a big lake, and the result now is a piece of land full of enormous cacti, some more than 1200 years old, which gives visitors an amazing panoramic view of the salar.

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Noah once again put his hiking skills to work and climbed the island with us (about 20-25 minutes to reach the summit). We looked very, very small next to those gigantic plants that grow about 1cm per year. During the walk he was the one showing us where to go and where not to go. Quite a guide!

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When we reached the bottom of the island again we headed off to our lodgings for the night. We still had about 2 hours of driving (almost 1½ hours’ drive before reaching the end of the salar!), and the scenery was just amazing like the salar itself. We drove for a while in the middle of a desert, passing mountains, plains and the place where the Bolivia Dakar rally has been held for a few years.

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The day was almost finished and we reached our lodgings

We got to our lodgings for the first night of our Uyuni Atacama tour just before the sun had set completely, and our accommodation was also made of salt. It was a house with lots of bedrooms which is used by the jeep-loads of tourists to stop and have a good night’s sleep.

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Noah was again having a great time playing with all that salt while we were having dinner and a nice chat with our friends who were travelling with us.

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Just stepping outside, I could see a starry, clear sky. Perhaps tomorrow will be even better though, as we are spending the night at a place that has no light after a particular time. Let’s see how the second day of our Uyuni Atacama tour goes.

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Don’t miss our second day and third day of our trip from Uyuni in Bolivia to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile.

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