Uyuni (Dep. Potosi)
Uyuni, founded in 1890 as a trading post, has later become an distribution hub for trains carrying minerals on their way to the Pacific Ocean ports. Uyuni is today the gateway for tourists visiting the famous Salar de Uyuni – a 10,582 square kilometeres vast, flat land of pure white salt, presenting the largest salt flat in the world, and the Eduard Avaroa National Park, which contains a number of lagoons of bright red, blue, green and white water, coloured by the mixture of their mineral content.
The Train Cemetery
Outside the town is the first or last stop on most tours of the Salar. Follow the rusted railway line, that leads out of Uyuni for 3km. On a backdrop of pure white salt, the crumbling hulks of some of Bolivians most famous trains lie in their final resting place. Amongst the redish-brown steam locomotives are the first train the country ever saw and one of the last to be robbed by the famous 'Banditos Yanquis', Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
The Salt Hotels
In the 1980s there was a hotel, made entirely out of salt, right in the middle of the Salar. Unfortunately, it couldn't be properly plumbed and this caused all sorts of trouble, so it's now just a vacant building. Luckily, two new salt hotels have been built closer to Uyuni (and with fully functioning facilities) so the chance to experience sleeping on a bed made of salt, between 4 salt wall with a salt bedside table hasn't been lost.
The Palacio de Sal (Salt Palace) was constructed in 2007 entirely out of 14 inch blocks of salt. As well as salt walls, floors, tables and chairs, they also have a number of eerie salt sculptures throughout the hotel.
The Cristal Samaña is a new age dream. Built according to Feng Shui principles, they have a different animal of the Aymaran Zodiac carved into the salt headboards of each bed. From the air it is said to look like three coca leaves.
Both hotels offer an all-luxury experience with private bathrooms, hot water and restaurants. As well as being included on most tours of the Salar, they run their own for guests. Prices vary throughout the year, so check the hotels' websites.
For information about tours to the Salar de Uyuni and the Reserva Avaroa, please visit our tours section.