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Bolivia/Chile Desert Crossing, Day 1: Uyuni and the Salt Flats

Having spent the night in Uyuni, a small town with just 20 000 people and overpriced souveniers, we were ready to leave around noon to start our three day desert crossing with four wheel drive cars that would take us to Chile.

Just after ten minutes of driving we had our first stop, which was the famous train cemetary where tens of trains were just left in the desert to rust. We were stupid not to hear the explanation that our guide gave us, as we were too busy looking around at the trains, but we got the more exciting part where he told us about the train robbers  “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” who ended their long train robbing carreer here in Bolivia.

Another half hour drive we stopped at the Colchani at 3653 meters asl, which is the closest town to the Salt Flats, where all the locals were living off salt production and selling salt souveniers to the tourists crossing by. We watched a woman making the salt, and when asking how much she sold it for she said that she made less than 3 dollars for 50 kilos of fully processed, packaged salt.

After just another ten minutes drive we were inside the Salt Flats, where we could see heaps of salt being left to dry. Another twenty minutes of driving through crystal white salt desert, we made a stop for pictures, which seemingly was something everyone had been looking forwards to the most on our whole trip. Our stay there was just for an hour, which was not nearly enough as more than half the time was used for group photos, but afterwards everyone just ran off like crazy, taking pictures in all kinds of positions.

Just forty minutes drive we arrived the Salt Hotel just in time to watch the sun set. The hotel was really beautiful and located right at point where the Salt Flats ended, and tomorrow we will be up really early to watch the sun rise over the Salt Flats before we continue our journey through the desert on our way to Chile.