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Sights in the Salt Flats of Uyuni, Bolivia

Travel guide > Uyuni


The Salar de Uyuni, the famous salt flats that are comprised of several thousand square miles, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bolivia. The flats are located near the small town of Uyuni, and many tours depart from there. When embarking on a journey to the salt flats, you can expect to see a variety of interesting sights.

The following is a list of places that most travelers to the area want to see. When booking a tour, see if they stop at these different locations so you can get the most out of your trip to Uyuni.

Train Graveyard

To visit the train graveyard, a place just on the outskirts of town, you don't need a tour guide. All you need to do is walk out to the trains and start snapping some photographs of the rusted out behemoths, locomotives from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. They seem out of place in the desert, almost as though they were forgotten and left to rot. It is a strange place for sure, but one that you will definitely want to spend some time at.

The train cemetery is within easy walking distance from the town, but like all hikes, you should make sure that you have plenty of water. Take a camera as well, because the cemetery makes for a unique photo opportunity.

This is often the first (or last depending on his or her schedule) place a traveler stops at in Uyuni.

Arboles de Piedra

The Arboles de Piedra or the Stone Tree is a strange rock formation that seems to grow out of the ground, and does bear something of a resemblance to an actual tree. Like many of the places on your tour, this is something that you need to photograph just to show people back home how unusual it really is. Words do not do it justice.

The Lagoons

You will find several lagoons on your tour, and some of the most interesting are the Laguna Verde and the Laguna Colorada. Located on the Chilean border, the Laguna Verde (green lake) is a gorgeous salt lake colored green. The reason that it is green is due to the high arsenic content in the water. The Laguna Colorada (red lake) is colored as such because of the red sediments and the pigmentation of the algae. Many flamingos of varying species live at this lake, including James's, Chilean, and Andean. These two lakes represent what looks like the landscape of an alien planet – it is quite surreal and beautiful.

Isla del Pescado

Fish Island, as Isla del Pescado is also called, is a unique ecosystem located in the middle of the salt desert. The "island" is filled with cacti, some of which reach a massive thirty feet in height. You won't find any fish here, however. The reason the island got this name is it looks like a fish from a distance.

The Markets

On certain days of the week (Thursday and Sunday), you can find a street market that begins at the clock tower near the town center and stretches for several blocks. You can find a number of local handicrafts here, including locally made items such as woolen blankets and salt sculptures.

You should be able to pick up everything you need from the different stores in town, as well as the market – and that includes souvenirs to bring home with you.

Mummies in and out of Town

While not located within the town itself, you can take a tour that brings you up close and personal to see some of the mummies found in caves in the nearby hills. They are buried in a traditional fetal position, and while it is impossible to tell what they died of, it is believed that they were victims of either starvation or exposure. Some of the local guides can give you a great deal of information about the mummies, as well as some of the former inhabitants of the land, including the Incas. These caves are a must see as long as you aren't squeamish!

If you don't wish to travel to the caves out of the town, you can still see mummies, as well as skulls and other artifacts at the local archaeology museum. If makes for an interesting way to spend a few hours.

The above are only a few of the different sights you can see while on your tour. Bring warm clothes, sunscreen, and a camera, and you are sure to have a great time.

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Last Updated 04 July, 2008 - 11:55 AM -0400

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