(Bolivia) Cycling in Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat

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It is time to make dream real that dream of the most cyclist is cycling in Salar de Uyuni.

I couldn’t cycle yesterday because of Bolivian census. Today early morning I go to Ururo to take bus to Uyuni. But there is only one bus that it leaves at 7 pm and arrives at 3 in the morning. I heard that this route is dangerous that last year one police was killed. I don’t like arrive at 3 am in the strange city. I find other longer way that I go to Potosi.

 

I go to Uyuni from Potosi. It is much longer way, but I like safe things. As arriving in Uyuni around 10:30 pm I try finding Wi-Fi hostel, but there is nothing. Later I realize that Uyuni doesn’t have good Wi-Fi, but line-internet

 

The next day, I can see many tour cars. Yesterday as arriving in Uyuni, I asked to people and heard that there is no water now in salt flat. I am so glad. I was worried about it because when I rode in the north, everyday it rained.

 

Town of Uyuni is really busy with local people. When I was in La Paz, tour company said that it was not possible to ride a bike in Salar de Uyuni becausse I will get lost. When I go to information center in Uyuni, she says it is no problem. I just have to follow track of cars. Lucky!

 

I meet other cyclist in the town today. He asks me to cycle together. I say I am slower ever. But he says it is okay. So I decide to go to Uyuni Desert with him tomorrow. I have lunch llama hamburger. Its taste is like beef. Price is 18 Bol (2.5$).
I exchange two books in tour company in the night for 20 Bol (3$) and buy some food for cycling. I go to Pc cafe for uploading journal. I sleep after 1 am. Every day there is much to do for tour.

 

The next day finally it is time to make dream real. It is funny that town of Uyuni is far from entrance of salt flat. Colchani is entrance of town for salt flat and it is 25 km (15 mi) from Uyuni. I think town of Uyuni is popular because of not only bigger city, but also name of the town.

 

It is really bumpy and unpaved road to Colchani from Uyuni. I buy water of 8 L in Colchani. Actually it seems that there is two ways to cycle in Uyuni. The first one is going to Chile way and the other one is round trip.
There is Korean president election on December that I must do this one, because Korea is democratic country that I never want to give up my right. I was looking for Korean embassy in one of Countries in South America. I also have to go to Brazil to take flight to Africa. So I decide to go to Paraguay for election. It means I have to come back to Uyuni town. I am not sure I will spend one night or two nights in Salar de Uyuni so I buy 8L water and also some snacks.

 

Now I can see Salar de Uyuni. The mount looks like Island in the lake.

 

It is my first time to ride at the long unpaved bumpy road so that bottle of water is dropped down a few times.

 

I see some sign of hotel. It is not salt hotel what I expect. It is really fancy and nice. Reception says it is 57 for one night. I ask him it means 57 Bol (7$). But he says it is 57 $.

 

My first experience of long bumpy load

 

There is salt flat

 

Finally I am on Salar de Uyuni.

 

It is wet around entrance. No dry season?

 

Salt production at the Salar

 

90 % of those are for the table and 10% of those are for the animal. Bolivian can eat salt for thousands years from Salar de uyuni.

 

Actually I don’t ride with him. He is speed at 15 km (9mi)/h. I am speed at 10 km (5mi)/h so that he always goes faster and I could not see him on the road. I see only him when he takes break time.

 

It is entrance of salt flat.

 

It is 8 km (5 mi) from entrance to salt hotel. Salar de Uyuni is located at altitude of 3,600 m (11,811 ft), but I am used to high altitude already because I have cycled in Andes. Many flags are broken because of strong wind.

 

It is salt hotel and 150 bol (21$) for one night. It is built with salt.

 

Many tour cars

 

White world

 

From now real cycling in Uyuni

 

It is only life I have seen in Salar de Uyuni. I think it is dying.

 

Many tour cars go the same way that I can follow their way. They look now like birds. The road is kind of bumpy, but not too bad.

 

Planet of Uyuni

 

I need to cover all my skin for protecting.

 

When I take the break, I meet Venezuelan guys who are running. They say they will run 44 km (27 mi) today. What awesome guys!

 

I think the truck is going to Chile way because car has many things on the top.

 

There are many holes. I think it makes car accident. At least 16 people, including 13 tourists, have been killed in jeep accidents on the Salar de Uyuni salt plains since May 2008. I think people have to be careful when they choose tour company. It would be good for spend more money to choose better company in Uyuni.

 

It is so interesting place.

 

Lucky covered salt

 

What an interesting place

 

There is too strong head wind which makes my tonsils swollen. I have really weak tonsils so that strong head wind is bad to me.

 

The sun starts going down. I couldn’t see him for a while. I am not sure that over there it is Incahuasi which is my destination.

 

Sunset in Uyuni. It is so beautiful but I have too much pain with tonsils that wind is stronger now.

 

I think this Island is what I am looking for.

 

As reaching Island, I find it is really wet. I am not sure how I can sleep tonight.

 

I meet him at the Island. I set up my tent after asking permitting to office. This Island has owner I think. He decides to sleep in the hostel, because he has long journal to Chile.

 

When I finish putting my tent, it is around sunset. I can’t believe that I am in Uyuni which is dream place.

 

I cook something but too much wind makes it hard.

Overhead, there is too bright moon. I have the program that I can see what time the moon goes down. I make alarm around 3 am. But I wake up around 2 am, because I am too sick with tonsils. I take pills of aspirin and other thing for cold.
I can see Orion and other constellations on the sky from my tent. I love it so much that I lie down and look those things.
And…And..And… I fall asleep while opening my tent….When I wake up around 5 am, the stars already hide to the sun. I am so sad that I couldn’t take the picture.
But actually it was not special; I’ve seen the night sky so many times. It was another night sky. I think the amazing night sky picture is taken with amazing technically that we can never see those on naked eyes.
Anyway still I love looking at the night sky.

 

The next day I have the time to be relaxed, but too many tourists are on the Island that I leave earlier than what I expect.

 

He has to go to Chile way and I have to go back to Uyuni. We take some funny picture each other.

 

The last one is the planet with apple.

 

The volcan is called Tunupa.

 

I don’t know why it is wet around Incahuasi.

 

Again many tour cars

 

I take the picture by myself with tripod.

 

Too big bike to me. Hahaha

 

Salt

 

It is really bigger hole and deeper. I have pain with tonsil that I take another pills.

 

It is so funny that when I go back, wind blows over the back. Today is really easy day.

 

I lie down on salt flat. I can never hear any sound. Salar de Uyuni swallows sound of the world.

 

The shadow is longer two times a day. In the morning and in the afternoon. I’ve realized this true every day on the road. Today is really sad to see my longer shadow. It was my dream to come to Uyuni and it is almost time to leave my dream.

 

Last sunset on my dream place

 

I set up my tent near the salt hotel.

 

Actually it is illegal to build anything on Salar de Uyuni, so I don’t ask permit to owner. It is really my first time to set up my tent without permitting.

 

It is the same as yesterday that too much wind is in the night. There is really interesting thing that wind is gone around midnight. Today is really cold night. I think yesterday it was not much cold because of cactus. I make alarm to wake up after the moon goes down, but I wake up earlier because I am too sick that I throw up.

 

The moon is going down.

 

It is the only one I take the picture of stars. Yeah, not every day I can make picture of the night.

 

The next day I try leaving early to avoid crash of tourists. I brought all my stuff when I left the town, because I didn’t have plan to stay one more night in Uyuni town. But right now I have no choice that I am too sick. I try hitchhiking, but there is no car. I lie down on the salt flat. There is no sound. No wind, No birds, No cars, No people, Nothing on the salt flat. It is my first experience that I hear nothing in the world in my life. I fall asleep a little bit without hearing any sound.

 

Interesting things happens that I get better after sleeping a bit on salt flat. I go to Uyuni town without anybody’s help.

 

It was easy to go from Uyuni town to Colchani. But it is hard to go back. I think it was kind of downhill to Colchani. Today it is really bumpy that my hands are too much shaked.

 

Actually I bought beer yesterday night in Salt hotel, but I was too sick to drink. Tonight I will drink it with celebrating. I find big problem that I have burn on my ears. I forgot to cover or use cream for my ears. I feel like somebody hits my ears.

 

Cycling in Uyuni’s planet. It was for two nights and three days in Uyuni. Although I was sick, I was the happiest person in the world that I made my dream real. The next dream is to cycle in Africa. I am not sure that how I make it. Always there is fear to make dream. But I always try to believe I can make it. It is time to make other dream real.

 

Video of Cycling in Uyuni. I made it!

 

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*Info for Cyclist
Uyuni(town) – Colchani town (Entrance for Salar de Uyuni) 24 km (15 mi)
Colchani – Entrance of Salar de Uyuni 4 km (2.5 mi)
Entrance of Salar de Uyuni – Salt hotel 8 km (5 mi)
Salt hotel – Incahuasi(Pescado Island) 66 km (41.25 mi)
Incahuasi(Pescado Island) – To Chile (Bahia Malu Malu) Around 20 km (12.5 mi)
(From Colchani to Incahuasi is kind of uphill and very strong head wind. If you go from Incahuasi to Colochani, then it will be kind of downhill and back wind.)

Total you will ride in Salar de Uyuni is only around 94 km (58.75 mi)
But there is other option like round trip or something other way if you have confidence that you will not get lost. Remember that if you go out of the main road, you will have been dangerous.
– Must need sunglass. (I read the journal that some people cycled without sunglass and then he went to hospital and stayed for three nights in the hospital.)
– Need Long gloves. I have six holes on my groves’ finger that it is really comfortable for Ipod. But after riding in Uyuni, I have too pain with six fingers because it was too dry that bleed.
– Make sure cover your all skin from the strong sun and reflection. It is an altitude of 3,600 km.
– Don’t forget protecting your ears. (I forgot cover ears that I got burn on ears as if somebody hits my ears with hands.)
– It was okay to sleep at Incahuasi, but the second day it was too cold to sleep on the salt lat. Although I caught terrible cold, it was not below zero.

* Info for tourist
– Route for 2 days and 3 nights is red line. It is around 700~1,000 Bol (100~130$)
There is two ways that the first one is to go to Chile and the other one is round trip.
(Last a few years, over 16 people have been killed on the road. It would be good to spend more money to choose good tour company in Uyuni)
– One full day tour is around 150 Bol (21$).

* Info of Uyuni’ town
– I saw info that there is only one ATM in Uyuni. But I saw at least over three ATM in Uyuni now.
– Hostel will be around 5~7 $.
– The town is really far from the city that there is kind of no Wi-Fi. But PC caf? is okay for speed internet. (One hour, 4~6 Bol (Around 1$/ Close around 10 or 11 pm)
– Restaurant is twice price in the center. When you go down to two or three block, then you can find cheap restaurant. (Road is Peru y Arce))
– It is rainy season from December to March so that backpacker will love touring at that time, but not for cyclist.
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Very beautiful photos!
    “57 $” – they said at the hotel… wow… even in the middle of the salty desert they’re pulling tricks. At least they didn’t say 59.99 $.

    • Thanks,
      yeah it is not 57.99 or 58.99 hahaha..
      I was a budget traveler, so I couldn’t stay. But I am sure it is so cheap price to a traveler who is on a vacation. It is very clean and nice view hotel. :)

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