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Town of Uyuni
The town of Uyuni occupies a desolate corner of southwestern Bolivia. Uyuni serves as a launching pad for hundreds of travelers each week to kick off their tour of Salar de Uyuni or the Southwest Circuit through Bolivia's most beautiful and deserted desserts. Tours leave the town of Uyuni at 11:00 am. The tours consist of groups of up to 6 people who spend the next 3 days and 2 nights together in a Toyota Land Cruiser 4×4.
The first visit on day one is to Uyuni’s famous train cemetery or train graveyard, which is located 3 km outside Uyuni. The Train Cemetery is one Uyuni’s main tourist attractions. The train graveyard is a collection of rusty steam locomotives and railcars that date back to the 19th century.
The town previously served as a distribution hub for the trains carrying minerals on their way to the Pacific Ocean ports. Plans were made to build a large network of trains based in Uyuni, but the project was abandoned due to a combination of technical difficulties and tension with neighboring countries.
Today the trains sit decaying along rusted tracks about 3km southwest of Uyuni. The Train Cemetery is a walkable distance from the city center, but it's best to visit the trains in the evening or early morning when the buses full of tourists are nowhere to be seen.
Town of Colchani
Sitting in between the town of Uyuni and the neighboring Salar de Uyuni salt flats lies the quaint salt-processing village of Colchani. The tiny town of just over 600 people is home to Bolivia’s largest salt-processing cooperative.
The Salar de Uyuni contains an estimated 10 billion tonnes of salt, with an impressive 25,000 tonnes of it excavated and processed through Colchani per year. Tourists stopping in Colchani can see handicrafts made of salt, and textile art made of llama and alpaca. Most tours also include a visit to a traditional salt factory where a local will teach you the process of extraction and refinement of salt.
Salar de Uyuni
After spending ~30 minutes in Colchani, the tour will head to Salar de Uyuni, where everyone will see the famous salt pyramids, which sit at the edge of the largest salt flat on earth.
The tour continues by driving further into the salt flat, which during the rainy season (Nove – March) has an amazing mirror effect. During the dry season there are patterns called the eyes of the salt across the entire salt flat (dry parts are also visible during the rainy season). During this time all Land Rovers typically stop so travelers can take perspective photos and eat lunch.
Isla Incahuasi is located in the heart of Salar de Uyuni, just 80km west of Colchani. The Inkawasi hill is covered in Trichocereus cactus and surrounded by expansive views of Salary de Uyuni.
There is an entry fee to climb the hill (B$30), but it’s worth the outerworldy views of the world’s largest Salt Flat framed by cactus along the hiking trails.. The trail to the top of the “island” takes around 15-minutes both ways. Please note that Isla Incahuasi might become inaccessible during part of the rainy season due to Salar de Uyuni being flooded.
Volcán Ollagüe is a massive andesite stratovolcano in the Andes on the border between Bolivia and Chile, within the the Potosi Department of Bolivia and the Antofagasta Region of Chile. The volcano sits at 5,868m above sea level and features a summit crater that opens towards the south. The volcano is usually covered with snow, which combined with its yellow and red colors gives Volcán Ollagüe a beautifully unique appearance. Other than some past glacial activity, the arid climate of the Altiplano region has kept erosion rates low, resulting in the volcanic edifice being kept well preserved.
Laguna Hedionda is a salt lake located in the Nor Lípez Province, Potosí Department of Bolivia. The lake is notable for various migratory species of pink and white flamingos.
Laguna Hedionda lies at an altitude of 4,121 metres (13,520 ft), with an area of 3 square kilometres (1.2 sq mi). Salt flats and bofedales (wetlands) are spread over the periphery of the lake. Llamas and alpacas are often seen grazing in the areas surrounding the lake.