Cycling Bolivia & Salar de Uyuni

Bolivia, with five neighbour countries and no coastline well hidden somewhere deep in South America. Like many other places on this trip we where really looking forward to visit this country. This because of the world famous huge salt flats. These salt flats cover an area of ​​10,582 km2, the largest salt flats in the world. This all at an altitude of 3660 meters on the Bolivia Highlands, in the Andes near the town of Uyuni.

Wikipedia learned us;

About 40,000 years ago, this plains was part of a huge prehistoric lake. When the lake dried up, two lakes remained (Poopo Lake and Uru Lake), and two large salt flats (Salar de Uyuni and Salar de Coipasa). It is estimated that it contains more than 10 billion tonnes of salt, of which around 25,000 tonnes are removed annually.

The flats are covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has an extraordinary flatness with the average elevation variations within one meter over the entire area of the Salar. The crust serves as a source of salt and covers a pool of brine, which is exceptionally rich in lithium. It contains 50% to 70% of the world's known lithium reserves. The large area, clear skies, and exceptional flatness of the surface make the Salar ideal for calibrating the altimeters of Earth observation satellites. Following rain, a thin layer of dead calm water transforms the flat into the world's largest mirror, 129 kilometres across.

From the border from Peru we will head for La Paz, one of the highest cities in the world from were we will go south to Oruro, on to route 12 to Sabaya. At this small town close to the Chile border we gonna hit Salar de Coipasa first, meet the flamingos and move on to Salar de Uyuni.

After Uyuni will cycle south to the border with Argentina. On this part we expected a boring route but cycled an unexpected beautiful part of Bolivia, a bit similar to the National Parks in the United States but without the thousands of tourists.

Into Bolivia, warm jackets for sale.

Bienvenidos a Bolivia 🙂

100m after the border we try the fresh local banana juices.... jummy!!!

The border town doesn't look very pretty.

The Titicaca lake with on the horizon snowy peaks.

Keep drinking tea... We drink approximately 2 liter of hot tea per person every day.

Our first campspot in Bolivia. Also in this country, wildcamp doesn't look like a problem. The highway is just 100m away but no one can see us in the lower riverbed. We enjoy the nice sunset.

La Paz in a far distance with the snowy mountains as decor.

It looks we are going high up again.

But down first...

In one of the small villages along the way.

LLoco LLoco or Loco Loco?

Dirt roads again.

Welcome in Australia.

Dusty trucks on the dusty road.

Trucks hunting Kim.

Swampy area.

Arriving into town through an industrial area.

Out of town still dirt roads.

Old Volkswagens cars & vans all over the place.

Camping in an abandoned house.

Rare birds.

Route 1. The main highway from north to south Bolivia.

With strong tail winds we go fast over this otherwise boring road.

Another flat 🙁

Mobile bakeries on the streets, Arjan loves them. "Calories, give me more calories."

Colorful

More colors.

Dutch transporters in Bolivia? Indeed they are very international 😀

Welcome at Planet Mars | Route 12 to Sabaya.

Kims bike with the biggest mudguard ever. Arjan stays dry behind her now.

Melting water after a freezing cold night.

Pushing out of our hidden campspot.

The sign says....

Laaamaaaaa...!

Downhill to the higher mountains.

Endless empty roads.

Hello again.

🙁

Flat tire and a broken airpump 🙁 🙁

Under The Bridge - RHCP

Ice on the river in the morning.

Six people died in the car?

Nearly end of the asphalt road. From here the salt lakes will start.

Preparing for a few days of no food and water resources.

Slept in this crapy hotel in Sabaya and take of to the salt.

She's selling Quinoa.

On to the salt, not white yet but this will change.

Empty town.

Passing a "big" temple.

The salt is wet and soft. Hard cycling.

Halfway we pass a little town.

Because the salt is so soft and wet we take a bit longer route around it at some parts.

Pink flamingos.

Swampy salt/mud.

We camp on the beach of the saltlake.

At sunset amazing colors in the sky.

In the morning also flamingos for breakfast.

Start your day with a flat tire.

We follow the swampy edge of the salt again.

At some point we have to cross the lake.

Endless white.

DCIM102GOPRO

Between the saltlakes a sandy part.

Where to go? To the lamas?

Deep desert sand.

"Kom ie nog of wat?"

Pushing hard in soft sand.

LLica, the town between the two big slat lakes where you can buy some food and water.

Uyuni, that way! -->

Long days give long shadows.

Camping at the salt. Cars and trucks pass by sometimes. Our biggest scar at night for us; They don't see our tent on time and drive over us.

-10 C at night.... we need hot drinks.

Amazing sunsets.... again 🙂

Cold at night so jackets and hat on.

Breakfast with a view while warming up in the early morning sun.

Packing up again, nearly ready for an other day at the office.

Salty wheels.

Endless... Priceless... The whole route over both of the saltlakes was around 300km. Due the wet and muddy first lake it took us nearly 5 days to finish both of the lakes.

Have a break.

Some classic pictures. Due the intense white depht is hard to see and gives creative opportunities.

No Photoshop needed.

Just two colors for five days... Blue and White.

Welcome at Isla Incahuasi. This island is in the middle of Salar de Uyuni. We camped here for the night.

Yes indeed, maybe unbelievable but the salt lakes are at 3660 meter above sealevel.

Around the island.

Sun is going down.

The island is full of huge cactusses. Up to 12m high!!

The sign did give us some protection against the hard winds over the salar.

Animals around.

No fancy photoshop filter, just like it is.

Breakfast.

In the morning the touristic 4x4 trips leave again.

On the "road?" again.

Strange but true. We found water underneath the salt. This did give us the strange feeling like cycling on ice instead of salt.

Don't cycle in there!!

4x4 trips are populair, coming from Uyuni going to the Island we just came from.

Close to the end of the Salar the Uyuni there is this Dakar Rally monument. Here we met @fedeflores94 from Argentina

Inside the building close to the Dakar monument.

Dakar did pass this place in 2016.

Bye big salar.

Getting closer to the town of Uyuni.

At the Casa de Ciclista in Uyuni.

Cleaning bikes and stuffing ourselves up with loads of calories again. Preparing and planning for the last leg of our trip through Argentina, Chili and Patagonia.

August 4, nearly 6000km to go. (Google did a little miscalculation of 1000km) At the time of posting this Bolivia blog we are in San Martin de los Andes already.

Our lovely host Mirjam at the Casa de Ciclista.

Leaving Uyuni. Independence day Bolivia.

Filling our campstove up with gasolina again at the last gasstation for the coming days. Kim is making friends in the meantime with these twins.

Long road ahead to the Argeninan border.

"Buenos dias chicos"

Just 10m away from us while we are having our breakfast.

Lama for breakfast.

Unexpected amazing landscapes on the road south.

Empty towns.

Also lama for lunch? 😀

Snow close the top of one of the mountain passes (4000m something)

"Kim how do you transport 20 eggs on a bicycle?" --- "Just on the back with some soft mattresses underneath! :-)"

Camp close to the highest point of this stretch to the border. 4200m.

Yeah... going down again on this winding road.

Okay Laamaa!

Down we go!

Like cycling in an US national park but without the thousands tourists.

Lunchtime.

Going down means warmer weather. Long shorts out!!

"Hey Kim, what are you doing out there?" 😛

Into Villazon in the late afternoon. Villazon is the border town, we wanna try to get into Argentina this evening.

Yes, the migration office is still open... "Argentina here we come..!"

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Train Graveyard – Uyuni – Bolivia

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Cycling Northern Argentina

2 Comments

  1. Beppie en Rieks

    Wat een zoutvoorraad, graag een kilo voor ons meenemen! die fietsen kun je straks ook beter achterlaten tenzij jullie een abstract kunstwerk willen meenemen.
    Alle achting wat een fantastische tocht ook nu weer na al die verroeste treinen.
    Van het ene in het andere uiterste.
    We begrijpen nu beter waarom deze fantastische reis ?????
    Nog heeeel veeel plezier.

  2. John Mercer

    Enjoy the last days of your journey! Believe it or not, work, bills, and a regular life awaits. But there will be more adventures. One of the things we learned by doing our bike trip was it completely changes what travel and a vacation is. On a bike, it’s all about the journey between A and B. Most travelers are all about A or B and the journey between is something to forget. They might not even move from A to B? It’s a huge difference and we still carry it with us everyday, kind of a guiding light for us. Life is a journey, best enjoyed on a bicycle.

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