Day 38: Salar de Uyuni – Crossing The World’s Largest Salt Desert

Friends told me to never ever go alone into the salt desert, it is tooooooooo huge and one gets easily lost. I had a different idea of exploring the world’s largest salt desert than crusing together with other tourists in a 4×4 car…  it should be a unique experience… just me, my motorbike and the endless white horizon made out of salt…

Of course, I first was afraid of the idea to explore the world’s most extreme vistas of the Earth myself. With an area of more than 4’050 square miles it is the world’s largest salt desert which was formed by evaporation of a pre-historic sea a very long time ago.

Riding in the Salar de Uyuni – Surface Structure

I was talking to many people in advance if my motorbike’s tires would be suitable to conquer the desert’s salt surface. It is made out of a thick crust shaped in polygonal forms. I thought it could be slippery as ice but the first couple of meters on the “white gold” were absolutely no issues and I continued my ride. The surface was very solid and I could easily speed up to 70 -80 km/h and did not want to risk more.

Especially at the beginning of the salt flat I had to pay enormous attention to huge holes in the ground which could have easily eaten my whole motorbike including me. Luckily, I got warned in advance by a German couple traveling in a camper van since already 4 years and I happily trusted them, lol.

Some people take amazing shots in the Salar during rainy season. Even though it looks absolutely stunning, I would personally not recommend doing it. The chances of damaging your motorcycle are pretty good. Up to you 🙂

Dakar Memorial and Flag of Nations

Since my salt hotel was just located next to the salar, I could easily made my way into the desert while following the car trails. While I was insecure at the beginning I felt more and more comfortable with the rough location. After 20 minutes of driving I arrived already at the famous Dakar memorial and the Flag of Nations which just gave a brilliant photo opportunities which I gladly welcomed.

That part was rather easy compared to finding the famous isla de incahuasi. Several car trails were leading into different directions and I was not really sure which one to follow and my GPS did not really help much further either.

I was asking one of the many local guides which direction to take and I was trusting the hopefully knowledgable 4×4 driver while blindly following the “golden middle”, road signs certainly did not exist.

After driving carefully an hour through the world’s largest salt desert I felt like a tiny corn of salt. Simply insignificant! While at the beginning I could still easily orientate myself at the geographical mountain ranges which were surrounding the desert, I was all of a sudden surrounded by nothing else but white salt, a crystal blue sky and a merciless burning sun high up in the sky (Don’t forget to put sunscreen on – even when only a short time in the salar).

It felt like being in a bad Western movie where stranded people were crawling thirsty for the search of re-freshening water. Luckily, I had 2 litres of water with me, some power bars and signal rockets just in case I would get lost (at this point of time I had no glue that “spot” exists, lol).

Isla Incahuasi

I had to be careful not to fall asleep during the more than monotonous drive and I was fighting with my thoughts not to get lost somewhere on my way. Luckily after 1,5 hours I saw a small island coming up at the end of the horizon which was luckily my planned destination – Isla Incahuasi.

After some more research I found out that the island was made out of corals which were inhabited by large cactuses the size of big trees. Just surreal…

Of course, I climbed the highest peak of the island which was not very easy due to the altitude of the salt flat at more than approx. 3’650 m where every step feels like an insurmountable obstacle. Out of breath I enjoyed the marvellous views in every direction of the salt flat and was overwhelmed by the tininess of human mankind in contrast of such an extreme landscape.

After drinking a famous coca tea I made my way back again to the hotel while the sun was setting down after a long day in the world’s largest salt desert.

Bolivia Travel South America
Salar de Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni

Live Update From The World's Largest Salt Desert