Nearly all international travelers to Bolivia have a visit to the Uyuni Salar (salt flats) in their plans. Though there are day trips to the area, we chose to pile into an 8-person 4×4 Land Cruiser and bounce around the “Southwest Circuit” for a 4 day/3 night outing. Beyond Ted and me, our car included our South African friends (Jeff and Romy) as well as our driver, Hugo, and our English-speaking guide, Archie. We were a great group and we were all thankful that there weren’t actually 2 more passengers in our car, as we saw many other groups cramped and it didn’t look comfortable.

We didn’t quite know what we were getting ourselves into at the outset, but the southwest circuit of Bolivia is some of the highest, driest, windiest, most barren and unique landscape that we have ever visited. Beyond the salt flats, the area is a hotbed of geothermal activity and rich in a variety of minerals that have a crazy effect on the colors of the lakes. Highlights include:

  • The highest we’ve ever been! We were so proud of ourselves when we hiked the 15,000 foot pass on our trek to Machu Picchu and sure enough, we were just sitting in the jeep as we drove over a road with an even greater elevation.
  • Lakes with the craziest colors. Emerald green, tropical blue – even red!
  • Flamingos! There are three different species in the area and for some reason they love the harsh climate.
  • Huge volcanoes all around – topping 6000m in altitude (near 20,000ft)!
  • Having South Africans help us plan our trip to South Africa. We already had our guidebook for our upcoming visit and they went through it and told us what to do while we’re there.
  • Having a drama-free trip. We passed other groups of travelers that were in cars that broke down multiple times, had crap food, or were with an unfriendly, unhelpful guide which is no fun at all.
  • Hot springs in the middle of nowhere.
  • Staying in a hotel made entirely of salt!
  • Photo shoot at the Uyuni Salar (pictures coming up soon).

The trip was a complete blast and we wouldn’t change a thing. A huge thanks to Tupiza Tours for taking care of us and to Jeff and Romy for making it an unforgettable experience.