After leaving La Paz on a night bus, a friend from France and I arrived in Uyuni in the morning and picked out a tour company that would leave the same day. The name of the company was Expediciones Lipez and our driver/guide was called Domingo.
At 10am, we started our Salar de Uyuni adventure with a visit to the Cementerio des Trenes, place where over 100 old locomotives are withering away. In the last century, the train tracks around Uyuni where used for the transport of precious metals, miners and general passengers. However, with buses gaining popularity and roads being built, the train tracks lost their importance in transportation and are now only occasionally used for freight.
After the visit to the cementerio, we made our way into the salt flats, which was the most anticipated attraction for everyone in the car. The entrance to the Salar from the town of Uyuni were covered in water, so the cars must go very slow, until they reach the dry parts. There, your first stop will be the original salt hotel. All the tour groups eat lunch at the hotel, which features a statute from the 2016 Rally Dakar and you can also take great perspective pictures. The difficult-to-drive-on terrain of the Salar de Uyuni has been part of the 2016 Dakar route and almost every car you will find in the salt flats is decorated with some kind of memorabilia from the race.
After lunch, Domingo took us to a wet part of the Salar de Uyuni, from where we were able to see an almost perfect reflection of the clouds in the sky. The water-covered salt forms the largest natural mirror in the world. Due to relatively heavy wind, the mirror was not as clear as it could have been, but I would not trade the views we got. Barefoot in the salty water, we took a lot of pictures of each other and the group as a whole.
Domingo told us that we would be watching the sunset, which was not due in another three hours. So, we drove a little farther into the Salar and stopped at a place with beautiful panorama qualities. The cars have all the bags on the roof and if you ask nicely, your guide might let you climb up to take some pictures. Some tour companies let people on the roof while driving, but Domingo was strictly against this. In general, he proved to be a very responsible and safe driver throughout all three days and showed us more than the tour usually included!
Finally, as sunset edged closer, he asked us if we wanted to see the sunset from the water or from land. Unison, we answered “water” and although it was very cold to stand in the seemingly endless salt ocean, we did not regret our choice. All other cars were a couple hundred meters behind us, while our view on the sinking sun was unobstructed. Just before our toes were about to fall off, we hopped back into the car and drove to Uyuni, where we would spend the first night. During the wet season the itinerary is different from other months so we did not see Fish Island. Either way, this first day in the Salar de Uyuni was a beautiful kick-off to our adventure. Read more about Day 2 and Day 3.