Salar De Uyuni
Updated: Sep 17, 2019
The Salar. The salt flats of Bolivia. Maybe it's the giant furry Saguaro-like cacti (Echinopsis atacamensis) or the visiting Vicuna (A Camelid species) that come by each evening to look for food scraps. Whatever it is, we'd never found ourselves in such a unique and definitively new landscape.
We headed out onto the salt and found that near the edges it was a bit wet. Goose (our truck) had lived a rust free life in Arizona so we crept along at a slow speed trying not to spray the super salinated water everywhere. Once away from the shore it was dry as a bone and we were able to drive along at 50mph. Cruise Control engaged we pointed the nose towards a point on the GPS. No roads, no path. We just pointed our bow towards a point like a ship on the ocean.
Each night we looked for a different "island" of rock and cactus to hide from the wind. The lesser known islands are rarely visited by tour groups so we had them to ourselves. The islands are covered in several inches of coral from when this area was under water. It somehow makes sense because the salt flat makes your brain think you're on a giant white sea.
At one point our friends veered slightly too close to the "shore" and broke through the surface layer of salt. Instantly their Range Rover Classic was sunk up to the frame rails in clay mud. It took a few good yanks with the snatch strap to recover them and we all realized how serious getting stuck can be out here. This was driven home when you see the tracks and digging marks of other previously stuck vehicles dried and immortalized in the salty muck.
Once we exited the salar we drove directly to the nicest carwash in Uyuni. Perportedly, they are the only ones using fresh water to clean your truck, but I wasn't going to taste the muddy looking water. You drive up onto some fairly sketchy ramps and the water pressure of the sprayers is so great that the users are leaning into them with all their weight. With our trucks cleaner than they'd been in months we headed for our next challenge. The Lagunas Route of Southern Bolivia.