For the second days, we entered the inside the Eduardo Avaroa National Wildlife Reserve and were amazed by stunning colourful lakes. The journey of a lifetime was only getting better after a first day of the Uyuni Salt Flats already mesmerising.
On day 2 of our Uyuni Salt Flats tour from Tupiza, we were granted a sleep in until 6.00. It was bitterly cold when we leave the homestay at dawn. We trundled all day along the dusty tracks from one jaw-dropping scenery to another. Passing by herds of llamas or the odd vicuña along the side of the road, we explored the lakes scattered in the desert.
The first lake was the Laguna Hedionda. With the colourful peaks of the Andes serving as a backdrop, the saline lake was stunning. We jumped off the 4x4 to take a closer look. We wandered around the cold lake home to 3 migratory species of flamingo - Andean, Chilean & the rarest kind James. The poor birds were literally walking on thin ice.
The Laguna Hedionda
After the Laguna Hedionda, we pulled up in the wilderness near "Termas de Polques". We stripped to our bathing suit and dipped into the naturally heated pools. Sitting half-naked in clouds of billowing steam and taking in the spectacular, barren scenery was a unique experience. Starting the tour from Tupiza meant we had the place just for ourselves. So cool!
Termas de Polques Hot Springs
After relaxing and warming up in the pools, we were now driving through a barren valley, called the Dali Valley or Dali Desert because of its colours resemble the surrealist paintings of Salvador Dali! Surrounded by towering volcanoes, the scenery was surreal.
As we arrived at the Green Lake, we noticed, the murky waters were not green. Hamilton, our guide asked us to wait. Around noon, the wind rose and before our eyes, the "Laguna Verde" changed and get in minutes its turquoise hues. It was magical. When the arsenic, lead, copper and other heavy metals in the water get agitated enough by the wind, its colour change into green!
The snow-capped Licancabur Volcano towering at 5,868 meters above the sea was reflecting. The scenery was out of this world. Plus, we were lucky to arrive a the right time to experience the famous Laguna Verde transformation. After recording the phenomenon, we made our way back to our 4x4 for the next attraction of the Uyuni Salt Flats tour, the White Lake.
Laguna Verde or Green Lake
After the Green and White Lakes, we found ourselves in front on another marvel, the Solar de Manaña geyser basin. We jumped off the truck. The wind was blowing strongly, drifting through the thin air, and pushing steam and gases in all directions. We heard the bubbling and boiling mud. We breathed the unpleasant smell of rotten eggs characteristic of the sulphur dioxide. The geothermal field was impressive but also scary. A 250C geyser would burn anyone to its death. We wandered around the different pools until the bone-chilling cold froze our smartphones (and our asses).
Solar de Manaña
Before sunset, we reached the Laguna Colorada or Red Lagoon. The shallow salt lake was mesmerising. A once in a lifetime experience. The tinted blood water contrasted with the white colour of its borax islets and the hundred of flamingos created an extraordinary scenery. The red is caused by the pigmentation of some algae. We spent an hour watching the birds paddling in the deep red waters and were able to get up close and with few flamingos feeding on the shore. It was one of the most beautiful places we have ever visited.
Laguna Colorada or Red Lagoon
Our homestay for the night was close by. The dinner was waiting for us as we returned from the Laguna Colorada, the head filled with unforgettable and breathtaking sights. The second night was a rough sleep. Sleeping at 4300 meters above the sea in the blistering cold was not something we want to remember. But the places we visited during the day made it all worth it.
Practical information about the Uyuni salt flats 4 days tour.
- The accommodations are simple but clean including a bed (mostly single), pillow, clean sheets, and blankets. There is limited power and water supply.
- Avoid companies that offer rock-bottom prices. There are cheap for a reason.
- Start the Uyuni Salt Flats tour from Tupiza, Bolivia as it offers many advantages.
- We rented sleeping bags and were glad we did as it was freezing during the night. We slept with layers over layers of clothing.
- Just being at altitude causes you to lose far more fluids than normal. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. We brought extra water for the trip even though we got 1.5 litres per day provided by the company. Avoid caffeine (coca, tea, coffee) and alcohol, as these can increase the likelihood of dehydration. We suffered from headaches and breath shortness on the second night as we slept at 4300 m.
- Once again. Acclimate to the high altitude in Bolivia before setting off into remote areas like the Acclimate to the altitude in Bolivia before setting off into remote areas like Uyuni and beyond.
- Bring cash in low denominations to pay for the toilets (Bs. 2-5), showers (Bs. 10), thermal pools (Bs. 6), entrance fee to the National Park (Bs. 150), entrance fee to Isla Incahuasi (Bs. 30).
- Tip your guide and cook
Have you been to the Bolivian Salar? Did you start from Tupiza or Uyuni? Which company did you book with? Leave us your comments below. We would love to hear from you.