top of page
  • Writer's picturePaula Cooper

27 0ctober Salar de Tunupa, Uyuni: Bright Blinding Blue Beautiful Bizarre Blustery

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Bright and early, awake, I luxuriated in a lie in, whilst Simon slept. Where was everyone at breakfast? More coffee and local pastries for me!

Sitting viewing the white snowlike vast salty expanse we met our guide ready for a quick trip to the salt cooperative at Calchani before driving across the salt flats on a surprisingly smooth track, tyres marking the weak spots.

Formed from evaporated trapped sea water when the continental South American Plate and the oceanic Nazca Plate crashed millennia ago creating the Andes; now 11 layers (each dark layer from a rainy season) the salt lake is 10k square km at 3,656m. In early 2000s the area was opened up to tourism premoted by president Morales to provide another revenue stream for the indigenous local peoples.

The local cooperative make layered bricks & blocks for carving (cut to the required size, left in situ for two weeks, extracted and dried further before ready for use) and table salt (raked into piles, left to dry, scooped up and transported back before more drying using fires and crushing,  combining with a little iodine salt from Chile  (1:4) before being packaged ready for sale).

No wonder they filmed Star Wars ‘Last of the Jedi’ in 2017 here, it’s out of this world! Nothing grows, so flat, I can see why they locate land speed records here too.

Tunupa Volcano our next destination, rising out of the lake. Walking through the village Coquesa (3400m) we climbed to see the chulpa, undisturbed well preserved 500+ year old mummies in situ within a cave (or amusingly grocery as the English sign said!) I also requested wandering over to a lookout, blinding panoramic view of the lake; so glad Simon made me wear my prescription sun glasses!

Walking around the lower slopes onto the Salar edges we wandered through herds of llama and watched flamingos. After having a go at a trick photography, we were surprised with a picnic!

After lunch with the help of our guide we took photos playing with perspective, even using the Uros boat we had bought a few days ago.

Next we visited Isla Incahuasi covered with giant Trichocereus cacti; famous for the spectacular panoramic views of the salt flat surrounding it. Amusingly some local school kids had a soccer match going!

Next stop was the first salt hostel, Palacio de Sal, in the middle of the Salar. Unfortunately sanitation problems, and mismanagement caused serious environmental pollution, causing closure for a while; also site of the Dakar rally 2015-8. The wind was really picking up.

Needing every item of warmth we posed shielded by the jeep, with wine & nibbles we watched the sunset. Braving the icy blast we nipped around to take photos; blustery and bracing, but beautiful!

Waiting & trip to Calchani salt cooperative

(Waiting; salt brick; table salt)

Tunupa Volcano & Chulpa

(Climbing volcano; mummies; statues at overlook; view with enormous flowering cacti unique to the salt flats; Coquesa village)

Foot of volcano & surprise picnic.

(Volcano; Llamas; Andean flamingos; salt lake; trying trick photography; surprise picnic; me and cóndor wrong group I know!)

Playing with perspective! Bizarre.

Isla Incahuasi with giant Trichocereus cacti

(Views; giant Trichocereus cacti; local schools football match!)

(Original salt hostel from mid 90s & site of Dakar rally)

(Finally a British flag; inside & outside hotel; lake map)

Blustery Sunset with wine & nibbles!

(Sunset on the Salar; moon; our salt hotel; the local wine)

(Simons photos now included!)

Video to follow if technology back home allows.

We stayed at Luna Salada, salt flats, Uyuni, Bolivia

1 view0 comments


bottom of page