Bolivia: Part 3. The Salt flats of Salar de Uyuni.

The Salt Flats That Stole My Heart


Once upon a time, I saw a social media post on Salar de Uyuni ~ the salt flats of Uyuni, in Bolivia and I knew that this magical place where surrealism and the skies reflections in the salt flats were every day occurrences, I knew I had to go there. Lucky for me, on my trip to Bolivia, Salar de Uyuni was on the itinerary and I was more than stoked to finally see myself there.

We hopped an airplane and headed to Uyuni and as we flew into Uyuni, I could see salt flats for as far as the eye could see. After arriving into the town of Uyuni,  we went for lunch at Tika restaurant for a delicious lunch of volcanic rock soup ( I can't recall the name of it but it had a piping hot lava stone in the soup that made the soup bubble and boil) followed by a myriad of other delicious dishes that left us all feeling full and happy. 

The salty, dusty town of Uyuni.

The town of Uyuni is like an old western town. The dusty roads, expansive desert and a smattering of trees make Uyuni home to it's residents. I wandered the streets of Uyuni, wondering how people survive in a place so dusty, dry and salty but as I saw people going about their daily business, I was reminded that we all adapt to our surroundings and life goes on. Afterall, people often wonder how I myself, exist in the cold winters of Minnesota and I seem to manage!

As I wandered around,  I found myself intrigued by a playground in the middle of town. Being the kid that I am, I headed towards the giant salt covered slide that reflected the suns rays off of its metal. There were school children also at the park and I found myself following them up the slide only to ask them if they'd like to race down the slide. At first, they looked at me like I was crazy then decided the challenge would be fun. So, down we went, child like in nature, arms in the air and then  myself and the two Bolivian school girls flew down the slide. We were so thrilled by it all that we decided to do it again. I  never quite expected to find myself in a playground in Uyuni, Bolivia but when the vibe strikes, one must go for it and I am happy I did!


The Train cemetery and beyond.

On the outskirts of Uyuni, lies the old train cemetery. It's a magical place where the remains of old trains lay scattered amongst the salt flats. Their presence is almost ghost like in nature, thus the cemetery reference. It's an ideal spot for photography as the white landscape, the bright blue skies,  and the gigantic, rusted out metal trains create a very surreal visual treat for the soul.


After moving on from the train cemetery, we drove out to our hotel  and checked in  at Palacio del Sol, the very first hotel made of salt. With nothing but salt flats and mountains surrounding it, it seems very out of place in the desolate landscape. Once inside the hotel, you'll find high, curved ceilings made of salt, a beautiful restaurant and bar and the rooms, my lord, the rooms! Coved salt ceilings and walls create a very cozy environment with a lovely sitting area to sit and reflect upon your days adventures. The bathroom came equipped with a towel warmer because the early mornings and evenings are chilly on the flats and nothing feels better than a nice warm towel after a toasty warm shower!

The Flats, OH! The Flats!


Now onto the flats. We drove for 30 miles on the flats into the middle of what felt like a giant ice field. I hail from North Dakota where fields of barren white snow covered fields and blue skies are all you will see for miles and miles and this is exactly what the salt flats reminded me of. It was almost as if I was home ~ it was a very strange experience and my whole sense of being was confused. I walked gently upon the salt, feeling as though I was either on snow or a frozen lake as my sense of where I was did not register with me right away. I looked to the East: salt; to the West: Salt; to the South; salt and to the North: Salt. The only thing that broke the vastness of
the salt flats was the mountains in distance.


The Uyuni salt flats are a haven for Instagramers, photographers and adventurers alike. The sky is the limit when it comes to creating unique  photographs. The use of props like coke cans, hats, dinosaurs, and anything else you can imagine has been used to create clever photos for many a traveler. We tried our hands at coming up with some cool Uyuni photos and I think we did pretty darn good!





Somewhere in the middle of the salt flat lies "Fish Island".  It is an oasis of sorts on the flats completewith a small mountain covered in century old cacti. The hike to the top of the mountain offers an impressive  360 view of the salt flats. There were several travelers visiting Fish Island which felt a bit odd because we were in the middle of nowhere and then all of a sudden, an "island" oasis complete with tourists, a restaurant and bar and bathrooms exist. It just didn't seem like something that should really exist, but believe me, it does and it's magnificent.

Reflection.

As the sun set over the expansive salt flats, I removed myself from my fellow travelers and took a seat on the ground to watch the sunset. With a glass of wine in hand, I sat and stared at the horizon where the sun was slowly setting. I have a deep connection with the ground and earth as a whole so I focused on the energy of the ground that I was sitting upon and a warmth crept through my body and then . . . the tears came. Yes, I cried. I cried because I was so completely moved by the experience coming to life. I cried because of the sheer beauty of my surroundings. I cried tears of accomplishment. I asked myself what I did to deserve this moment.  I glanced over at my friend and fellow traveler who was also seated near me on the ground and she returned my look with tears in her eyes. No words were needed as we both knew that sometimes words cannot define a moment, and so we cried some more.


My trip to Bolivia was one fed by the deep all knowing intuition that this country had something in store for me and it was up to me discover just what it was.  As I explored the countryside of Bolivia, walked upon it's soil and salt, and climbed up it's mountains, I began to feel a connection unlike any other. In a seemingly very simple moment of watching a sunset, I had a revelation of sorts. I learned at that very moment, seated upon the salt of the earth, that we are all deserving. I was deserving. We are all deserving of moments that take our breath away and make us feel whole again and that it is my job to help make that happen for people. I speak to the potential of travel as a catalyst for personal change and growth because I have felt the impacts of it upon myself and it is my wish that you too, have that moment or moments that center you and give life a whole new meaning.


 Viva la Vida 💓












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