Road trip in Uyuni. This place is unbelievable.

Uyuni, Bolivia. It's a trip to another planet

After visiting the Salar yesterday, I had a hard time believing that we would see anything even remotely as beautiful, but I was in for a surprise. The following two days we would drive even further into the desert to see active volcanos, colourful lagoons, unearthly nature and warm bubbling saline springs. A 970 km drive reaching a height of 5,000m across south-east Bolivia to the Chilean border was ahead of us.

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LAGUNA COLORADA – BLANCA – GEYSERS – HOT SPRINGS

We got up at 7am, had a short breakfast and off we went. First stop for the day was the stone desert; a large area of rock formations shaped by volcanic lava, wind and weather over the years. Driving through the scenery, it looked as though we were on another planet. The surrounding volcanos, blindingly red sand desert, the many shifting colors made it look extraordinarily beautiful.

Uyuni, Bolivia

Uyuni, Bolivia

At Laguna Blanca (white lagoon) further south, flamingos prowled the whitish water and ash-coloured mud. “There are three sorts of flamingos in Uyuni: Chilean, James and Andino,” José had told us.

I have never seen landscapes that made me feel more humble to nature. Thousand kilometers of raw, untouched nature, weird formations that resembled faces and giant cauliflower and space rocks with nature as the creator – all set against dazzling blue skies. It was nothing short of magnificent.

Uyuni, Bolivia

The massive Ollagüe volcano (5,868m) loomed ahead as we approached the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve after driving for a while through a desolate red desert. We had lunch under a parasol in the middle of the desert after which we head on to the stone tree; it was once a rock, but sandy wind and weather had sculpted this weird tree-looking stone over the years.

Uyuni, Bolivia

Uyuni, Bolivia

Uyuni, Bolivia

Last stop of the day was Laguna Colorada, which is a red colored salt lake. Its color comes from the presence of minerals, and the pink flamingos living in the lagoon created a very unique scene of spectacular beauty.

The day was settling into its decline at 5pm as we arrived at the hotel. My relationship with high altitude always leaves me with headaches, so I called it a night basically right after arrival.

DALI DESERT – GEYSERS – LAGUNA VERDE

4.30 in the morning. The cold was intense and I was sitting in the cool car, impatiently waiting for it to heat up while glazing at the clear starry skies. About 40 minutes from the hotel was the Geysers of Sol de mañana and we would reach it during the most active moment and with the first ray of lights. This point was the highest altitude of the tour at 5,000 meters above sea level.

After that, we moved on to the Hot Springs of Polques where some of the group took a bath.

Uyuni, Bolivia

Uyuni, Bolivia

Uyuni, Bolivia

Last stop on the trip was Laguna Verde (4,400m), a beautiful green colored salt lake at the foot of the Licancabur volcanoThis was my favorite place of these two days. I loved the quietness, the simplicity and beauty. It all seemed so perfect, like every rock and drop of water played an indispensable role in the landscape. I could have stayed there for hours.

A PEAK OF CHILE

But instead we drove to the Chilean border where I – this time – deliberately sneaked across it. Just for the record, this is not becoming a bad habit of mine. Samantha, our American/English crew member was moving on further south, while we were turning back towards Uyuni town in the north. We had a seven hour drive ahead of us, and on the way we did a stop at José’s favorite spot – the llama place. I get why he likes it so much. It sure is peaceful and quiet.

Uyuni, Bolivia

Uyuni, Bolivia

Llamas, Uyuni, Bolivia

I loved the Uyuni tour, and it was the highlight of my South America trip. If you want to know more, read my post about Salar de Uyuni here and my tips for the trip here.

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Are you going to Uyuni, Bolivia? You'll find thousand kilometers of raw, untouched nature, weird formations that resembled faces and giant cauliflower and space rocks with nature as the creator – all set against dazzling blue skies. It's nothing short of magnificent.

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6 Comments

    1. It is one of the best I’ve ever had! I can’t get over how beautiful and cheap it was! Oh, Lhasa is definitely a stunner, too. Particularly when the blue sky contrasts its mountain peaks and high altitude lakes.

  1. Hi Miriam,
    Just booked the flight to south america to do the uyuni and inca trails in Dec. Since I don’t speak a word of spanish (not good english either for that matter), needless to say I need to be thorough on everything. So if you don’t mind, I would like to ask you some technical stuff, like is there a place in uyuni you can store the luggage or do you bring it along with you on the tour? The flight you booked to uyuni, is a round-trip or one-way? How far ahead do you need to book the flight? Also on day 3, how late is the end of the tour, do you need to stay over the night in town or will there still be some kind of transportation back to la paz? Sorry to bother you with such boring details, but I am the worried kind.

    1. No worries, Quan, I’m happy to help you out 🙂 If you have a hotel in Uyuni, you can store your luggage there, although that’s not the norm. Usually, they bring it along in the car so I would advise you to go with option – it’s both cheaper and easier We booked a return flight from La Paz to Uyuni. I don’t remember how much is was although I recall that the price was more or less steady. In general though, it’s always cheaper to buy a return over a single. I would highly advise you to book the flight for the day after you return! On the last day, you have a 7 hour drive from the Chilean border back to Uyuni and you never know if the car encounters trouble or whatever, so make sure you have tickets for the day after. If you have any further questions, just ask away! Uyuni is terrific – you have something to look forward to!

  2. Thanks Miriam,
    I am definitly going to take on your advise about the flight booking, I imagine that I could use a good night sleep after the tour instead of being clamped in a bus for a 12 hours bumpy ride. Do you know if there is a decent hotel over there? Do you need to book ahead?

    1. Good idea, Quan! I’ve heard that the bus ride is very uncomfortable so if you have the money to spend, I think you would be better off flying. We stayed at a hostel called Hostal Vieli. It was alright, nothing fancy, but it was okay for one night. I felt safe there and there are lots of other travelers. And yes, you should book ahead. When we got off the plane from La Paz around 7-8am, we went into town, found the tour operater (which was booked in advance – very important!) and then we went to the hostel and booked a night for when we came back. Easy, and it gave me peace of mind.

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