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  • Gemma Fottles

Bolivia salt flats: what's all the fuss about Uyuni?

Updated: Aug 20, 2020

The Bolivian salt flats and one of the top reasons I wanted to travel in South America in the first place. But when I got there, I hated every second I spent in that salt-drenched desert.

What are the Bolivia salt flats?

The Bolivian salt flats are located just outside of Uyuni and is one of the most travelled to attractions in Bolivia. Instagram is full of salt flat perspective shots and there is a lot of hype around it. And I was excited. At this point in the South America backpacking trip, I had broken up with my boyfriend, spent almost all of money and gotten incredibly sick from a dodgy hot dog in La Paz. But this - this, I told myself - was going to make the toil and turmoil of the trip all worth it.

The journey to the salt flats

From a logistical standpoint To get there, we took a bus and arrived in Uyuni several hours later. Nothing was open and it was hard to get a room. It was a Sunday so also couldn't book the tour. There was nothing left to do but make a very ridiculously makeshift meal in our four-bed dorm room and drink red wine. It was freezing.

Our travel group had become fractured. The next morning we all - still travelling together - walked through the run-down town of Uyuni. It was freezing. The tour person said it was super expensive (find out prices) for the weekend one, so, already freezing our arses off, we wanted to do the one day tour. The ex was disgruntled. He went off to a bar and found some travel buddies. Several beers later and he had agreed to join them on the three-day tour. We bid farewell that night.

All a matter of perspective


We got over it. As a three, we looked forward to our day trip. We jumped in the jeep and went out. Walked around. Took a few photos.

t's everyone's favourite thing to do in Bolivia: take perspective shots on the salt plains. But seriously, that is ALL there is to do. When I bemoaned this, I was met with such travel snobbery it was outrageous. And that is the kind of traveller I think Bolivia attracts (see my in-depth rantings of my dislike for Bolivia backpackers).

It was all quite underwhelming. Granted in hindsight I can almost certainly deduce that the breaking up of the group had something to do with the lack of fun in the salt flats... but I mean, there was nothing there. Tell me how long you think you could stand in freezing cold temperatures with the wind whipping your face, gazing at miles of salty hexagons? For me, it was 45 minutes.

We had a drink and the food flew off the plate.

Dropped us back off, and we went to a restaurant. The unfriendly atmosphere, terrible food. Went to our separate rooms, and I literally froze my arse off until the time came to get our bus. It was one of the single most miserable experiences in my life. Food poisoning the way back, and Brogan is just out of this world gross sick.

When we caught up with the missing member of our South America travel party, he told us about his 2-night, 3-day trip to the salt flats. It was eventful. One of the cars flipped, badly injuring one of the tour guests. They eventually continued on the journey, but the cold killed any kind of magical vibe he had imagined.

There are plenty of people who have the magical time, but this time, it wasn't me.

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