Experience the natural wonder the Uyuni Salt Flats and see the largest salt flat on Earth. Marvel at the strange rock formations and the extraordinary landscapes. Observe first-hand the production of salt, and the salt mines. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore another part of the world!
First Aid Kit
Entrance to Isla Incahuasi (30 Bolivianos)
Entrance to Salt Museum (5 Bolivianos)
Departure & Return
SKYLINE TRAVELLER UYUNI, Av Ferroviaria, Uyuni, Bolivia
Returns to original departure point
What To Expect
It’s a cemetery for trains, for locomotives. And it’s so big that it looks as though all of the trains in South America were moved to Uyuni, Bolivia, to chug their last chug. It’s only about 3 km away from the Uyuni train station.
Filled with hollowed out bodies that have completely rusted over and other remains, the “Great Train Graveyard” (also known as Train Cemetery or ‘Cemeterio de Trenes’ in Spanish) can be found on the otherwise deserted outskirts of Uyuni, a small trading region high in the Andean plain.
Uyuni has long been known as an important transportation hub in South America and it connects several major cities. In the early 19th century, big plans were made to build an even bigger network of trains out of Uyuni, but the project was abandoned because of a combination of technical difficulties and tension with neighboring countries. The trains and other equipment were left to rust and fade out of memory. There are no restrictions in approaching the trains, so visitors often climb atop or go inside the train cars for taking pictures.
Most of the trains that can be found in the Graveyard date back to the early 20th century and were imported from Britain. There are over 100 train cars with unique structure and occasional graffitis. In other places in the world, the mighty steel trains would have held up better. The salt winds that blow over Uyuni, which hosts the world’s largest salt plain, have corroded all of the metal. Without guards or even a fence, these pieces were picked over and vandalized long ago.
Just outside the Salar de Uyuni salt flats lies the quaint salt-processing village of Colchani. This tiny village of just over 600 people is home to Bolivia’s largest salt-processing cooperative. Years ago, the inhabitants of Colchani used to exploit salt to exchange with other indigenous communities. Every year packs of llamas would travel incredible distances (up to 560km to Tarija) carrying salt, returning with coca, maize and other goods not produced in the Altiplano. This has since changed with the improvement of transport infrastructure and the salt is now sold by the cooperative in Bolivia and Brazil.
The Salar de Uyuni contains an estimated 10 billion tonnes of salt, with an impressive 25,000 tonnes of it excavated and processed at Colchani annually. During your stop in Colchani you can see handicrafts made of salt, and textile art made of llama and alpaca. This is the perfect opportunity to buy authentic Bolivian souvenirs to bring home.
The tour also includes a visit to a traditional salt factory where a local will teach you the process of extraction and refinement of salt. Despite this tour of the salt factory being free, those who take it are expected to give the local a donation for his time and effort. The tour is highly recommended if you’re interested in learning about how salt ends up on your kitchen table.
A visit to the Salt Museum is also popular among those who stop off at Colchani. This tiny yet picturesque space consists of salt bricks and a multitude of carved sculptures. It isn’t your typical museum as it takes no longer than 5-10 minutes to see all that it has to offer which makes it the perfect quick stop off for those passing through the town.
Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is considered one of the most extreme and remarkable vistas in all of South America, if not Earth. Stretching more than 4,050 square miles of the Altiplano, it is the world’s largest salt flat, left behind by prehistoric lakes evaporated long ago. Here, a thick crust of salt extends to the horizon, covered by quilted, polygonal patterns of salt rising from the ground.
At certain times of the year, nearby lakes overflow and a thin layer of water transforms the flats into a stunning reflection of the sky. This beautiful and otherworldly terrain serves as a lucrative extraction site for salt and lithium—the element responsible for powering laptops, smart phones, and electric cars. In addition to local workers who harvest these minerals, the landscape is home to the world's first salt hotel and populated by road-tripping tourists
The Uyuni Salt Flat, one of the tourist gems of the Andes, for the fifth straight year awaits its stage of the Dakar Rally to show the world one of Bolivia's greatest attractions when the fleet of motorbikes, cars, buggies, quads and trucks comes racing through this Saturday.
Uyuni's salt desert in southwestern Bolivia is the world's largest and highest, at an altitude of some 3,650 meters (12,000 feet) and covering close to 10,600 hectares (26,000 acres).
Since the world's most famous rally set foot on Bolivian territory in 2014, it has kept its appointment with this vast white plain surrounded by mountains every year without fail.
The Dakar Monument created in 2014 has become a symbol of the desert and a must-see for the tourists who arrive each year.
One of the highlights of a Salar de Uyuni tour is a hike around the spectacular Isla Incahuasi, otherwise known as Inkawasi. It's located in the heart of the salar, 80km west of Colchani. This hilly outpost is covered in Trichocereus cactus and surrounded by a flat white sea of hexagonal salt tiles.
It was once a remarkably lonely, otherworldly place but since the advent of salar tours it receives large numbers of visitors every day. Nonetheless, it’s still a beautiful sight if you forget the crowds.
You have to pay an entry fee to climb the hill (B$30), and tour groups clamber over the hiking trails chasing the perfect photo of cacti and salt. It’s a 15-minute walk to the top of the island, with a trail that loops back, but it's worth it. Note that during the wet season when the salar is flooded, the island is inaccessible.