With 10,582 square kilometeres and 3,656 metres above sea level, the Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world. This vast, flat land of pure white salt combines with multi-coloured lagoons, volcanic mountains, tree-like rocks and towering islands of coral to create one of the most unique and bizarre landscapes in the world.
Some of the sights within the Salar include: The Train Cemetery of Uyuni; Incahuasi Island in the Salar; Ojos de Salar; and the Eduardo Avaroa National Park, which contains a number of lagoons of bright red, yellow, green and white water, coloured by virture of their mineral content. Also in the national park are geyser, the Lincacabur volcano and the breeding grounds of 3 of the worlds 6 species of flamingo.
The Uturuncu is a not completely extincted volcano, which is shown by the activity of fumaroles. With its 6.008 metres, it is the highest peak of southern Bolivia and the department of Potosí. Because of its remote location in the Cordillera de Lipez, just few people ascend its peak. But it is probably the most easy to climb mountains of more than 6000 metres in the world.
Uturuncu is the only volcano in the area which reaches the symbolic limit of 6000m altitude. Thanks to an abandoned sulfur mine there is a dirt road which can bring you above 5600m. By the way this is the highest road in the world today. The volcano left head titles in the news when they discovered, thanks to infrared satellite images, that his magma chamber is not only huge, but fills up at rate never measured before (1m3/sec). Super volcanoes are rather rare happenings, and Uturuncu has only rather recently been discovered.
Along the trail you will cross some fumerolles just before you begin with the steeper part. The last 400m +d should not take more than 3 hours. From the summit you will have a view over the whole south Lipez region, including the Salar. Adding an extra day to the classical overland tour in the region, you can summit this volcano. None the less it is better that you got used to altitude before.
We take the night bus from La Paz to Uyuni.
Arrival in Uyuni in the morning. After breakfast we start our trip in our private 4WD. First we will pass the train cemetery and the cooking salt production village of Colchani until we get to the worlds biggest salt flat – the Salar de Uyuni.
In the middle of the Salar we will visit the Incahuasi Island, where we can marval at century old cacti of 12 metres height.
Overnight stay in a basic accommodation in San Juan, a village in the south of the Salar.
Today our trip will leads us through the impressive desert landscape of the Eduardo Avaroa National Park with stunning lagoons where we will see lots of flamingos. At the end of the day we will reach the Laguna Colorada, a fascinating red and blue coloured lagoon.
Overnight stay in a basic accommodation at the Laguna Colorada.
Before sunrise we will leave towards the geyseres of “Sol de Mañana“. Farther on we will visit the thermal springs of “Aguas Termales”, where we can heat up from the badly cold morning hours. Later we will pass the desert of “Salvador Dali“ to get to the Laguna Verde the southern most point of our trip. Overnight stay in a basic accommodation in Quetana Chico.
Again today we have to get up really early, because we want to climb the 6008m high Uturuncu volcano. By 4WD we can get quite close to its peak, so there will be just about 600 meters of altitude left for our ascent to its top. There are no climbing experiences needed, but altitude could be a major problem. From its top we can overlook and enjoy a fascinating view of the South Lipez region.
Back at the car, we have to drive back to Uyuni where we will arrive at the later afternoon.
After dinner, we take the night bus back from Uyuni to La Paz.
In the morning arrival to La Paz.