5 Great Things About Salar De Uyuni in Bolivia

5 Great Things About Salar De Uyuni in Bolivia

1.) The Ride

Getting from La Paz to Uyuni involves a 12 hour, bone-rattling bus ride. The road is unpaved and it shakes the bus violently. You won’t be able to close the windows and dust will bellow into the bus cabin. You won’t sleep the entire trip.

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Getting to Uyuni is a challenge…but memorable.

“What’s so great about that?” you ask. It’s simple…adversity is the underpinning of memory. We relish a victory when we fight hard for it; and we forget about the prize that came easy. I guarantee that you’ll remember the bus ride to Uyuni; conversely, you’ll forget about the time you spent in the air-conditioned lobby of the Marriott.

2.) The Altitude

Salar De Uyuni is located at 12,ooo feet. So you’ll be light headed, wandering around with a slightly-stoned feeling. You’ll be removed from your conscious mind, forced to deal with the natural world. You’ll be pulled into the setting in a very direct way. It’s like Woodstock, minus the green acid.

 

The altitude makes the experience more intense. The is not a Disney Ride, a short, two-minute burst of make believe. You’re in the tumultuous Andes, high above the rest of the world. And there’s the danger of sorochi – an illness caused by exposure to high elevations. The ever-present danger of Uyuni makes it all the more special.

3.) The Physical Beauty

Uyuni is natural beauty, the power of earth on display. The white expanse stretching out for as far as the eye can see – pure, blinding whiteness. Nothing like it on earth. That’s what makes Uyuni so great: it’s a one-of-a-kind experience that can’t be replicated.

Note the two best times to go to Uyuni; once during the dry season, and once during the wet season. When its dry, you can race atop the salt flat on a jeep (as seen below).

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The giant salt flats if Uyuni

When it rains, puddles form atop the flats. This creates for some amazing photo options, as the sky will majestically reflect atop the watered salt pans (as seen below). This means that you need two trips to really “do” Uyuni.

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Uyuni during the wet season…utterly surreal.

4.) The Salt Hotel

The Salt Hotel is located in the middle of the flats. It’s a mandatory stopover for any trip, given it’s unique location. You can stay the night, gazing at a million stars above.

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Cozy up to the Salt Hotel.

Some hotels are all about the location – the Salt Hotel is one of them. Note that the hotels in the nearby town are not great, so you might as well stay at the Salt Hotel. You’re not missing out on anything in town.

5.) The People of Uyuni

As you leave Uyuni, you’ll notice the trademark of Bolivia: the people. They are the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Their poverty doesn’t come from failure in the Western marketplace; it comes from their genuine adherence to the ancient ways. They are stoic and unique. A trip to Bolivia would not be complete without them.

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The women of Bolivia

Conclusion

A trip to the salt flats of Bolivia is mandatory. It’s a place where nature reigns supreme, where you witness a unique spectacle of beauty. And its remote location makes it all the more special.

If everyone could visit easily, it would not be unique.

 

The Lesson I Learned from a British Expat in Thailand

The Lesson I Learned from a British Expat in Thailand

Years ago, I visited a hotel spa in Nong Khai, Thailand. It was a beautiful retreat, situated next to the placid MeKong River. I was drinking a beer and basking in the glory of an hour-long massage. Magical Thailand.

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The idyllic Mekong River as it rolls through Nong Khai, Thailand…

Just then, the owner of the spa emerged. He was a British man, about 6 feet tall with blond hair. Next to him was his Thai wife. He kissed her on the cheek, walked over to me, and sat down. We talked about a variety of things, sharing our travel stories.

Here was my first encounter with a genuine expat. A man who picked up, left his country, and married a foreign woman. He wasn’t on the two-week vacation, the Caribbean cruise. He was the real deal—a modern day pussy pilgrim, looking for love in a distant land.

We spoke for about an hour. Then I got around to the big question, the thing I was dying to know.

“What’s your secret?” I asked.

He got a serious look on his face. He took a sip from a beer, a drag from a cigarette, and leaned forward:

It’s like the Dali Lama said, my friend—it’s all in your mind.”

I paused a moment….eh, that’s it? That’s the big secret?  Really, I was hoping for more: an age-old riddle, a mystery unraveled. But I got the cliche, “It’s all in your mind.” Very disappointing!!

“Thanks,” I told him. “I appreciate the advice.”

Sometimes we have to solve our own puzzle. The question – as well as the answer – is for us to find out.